U.S. Soccer announced on Friday that it has temporarily suspended the 2020 U.S. Open Cup amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, putting the tournament at risk of not being completed for the first time in more than 100 years.
[ MORE: Klopp on PL suspension: “We must protect one another” ]
The first three rounds of this year’s Open Cup were previously scheduled to take place on March 24-25, April 7-9 and April 21-23. No timetable has been given for when the tournament, which has already held its qualifying rounds for the tournament proper, could be resumed.
All major American soccer leagues, including Major League Soccer, USL Championship and USL League One, announced this week an indefinite suspension to their respective league seasons.
From U.S. Soccer’s statement, which can be read in full here:
“The health and safety of players, coaches, staff and fans is our main priority,” said U.S. Open Cup Commissioner Paul Marstaller. “Given the unique nature of the competition, which encompasses clubs from multiple leagues that have suspended their seasons, we are taking this action and will look to determine future dates to allow the 2020 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup to be played.”
The decision comes as participating professional leagues Major League Soccer, USL Championship, USL League One and National Independent Soccer Association have suspended their regular season schedules for a two-week to 30-day minimum, while the amateur National Premier Soccer League has also partially suspended league play until April 4.
It’s taken Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez some time to get used to these United States, but he’s in the sweet spot now.
He’s also a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champion.
Martinez scored six minutes after a Minnesota United own goal as Atlanta United built an early lead and held on through a Leandro Gonzalez Pirez red card at Mercedes Benz Stadium on Tuesday.
It’s Atlanta’s first USOC title, the first won by a team from Georgia, and joins the club’s 2018 MLS Cup in the trophy case
To borrow an adjective from PST’s Joe Prince-Wright, the second half was pulsating.
Atlanta’s first goal came when Leandro Gonzalez Pirez’s cross was partially blocked but took a turn into the goal in the 10th minute.
After failing to record a goal or assist in his first eight MLS contests, Pity Martinez posted three goals and seven assists in his next 18 plus two goals in the Open Cup.
Minnesota pulled one back just after the break to reinvigorate the match.
It was Robin Lod who produced the goal, the Finnish national team hitting a shot that deflected past Brad Guzan.
Pirez made it more tense when he took his second yellow card in the 74th minute.
Ike Opara missed a first half chance, but thought he made up for it in stoppage time. His would-be equalizing assist was popped over the bar by Michael Boxall.
The biggest stars for Portland and Minnesota showed up, but it’s a young man making a name for himself who came up with the winner in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal on Thursday.
Darwin Quintero and Bryan Fernandez traded goals, but Mason Toye’s goal was the difference as Minnesota United clinched a berth against Atlanta United in the final.
[ MORE: PST’s PL preview roundtable ]
Toye, 20, scored his sixth goal in under 1,000 minutes with the Loons this season, a classy bit of finishing behind the back line.
The 7th overall pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, Toye didn’t score in 18 appearances last season.
The Indiana University and New York Red Bulls Academy has been quite good, and has to be on the radar of Gregg Berhalter ahead of January camp (and perhaps clubs overseas as well if he finishes how he’s started the season).
The final will be Aug. 27 at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
A first time winner of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is guaranteed, and on Wednesday we’ll find out whether the trophy is headed to Philadelphia or Houston.
For what it’s worth, teams from Philadelphia have won the cup in previous editions dating back to the mid-1930s and well into the 1960s, but neither the Philadelphia Union nor the Houston Dynamo have snared glory in this particular celebrated tournament.
[ MORE: Man Utd-Derby recap, League Cup wrap ]
The Union have come the closest more often, losing back to back finals in 2014 and 2015, while the Dynamo play host in their first ever USOC final.
“This isn’t like any other game,” said DaMarcus Beasley. “There’s no tomorrow in this. Whatever you put into this game is what you’re going to get out of it, because it’s one and done. That’s what I’ve told all the players. It’s one night. You get 90 minutes… to prove that you’re the best team on that day.”
As for the Union, the memories of finals lost are more motivation than anything. From Philly.com:
“I would like them to write their own history,” Gaddis said. “Every game is a new game, every day is a new day. What’s in the past is in the past, but what we can try to control — we can’t control the future — is trying to win the first trophy for this organization.”
Philly feels the better bet, having fairly firm control of a playoff spot in the East while Houston’s stuck 10th in the West, but don’t forget that the Union traveled a long way from home while Dynamo’s plus-4 goal differential — better than five current playoff teams –shows they aren’t a mess.
The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup draw is not going as planned, as the Portland Timbers protest the roster of victorious LAFC.
[ RECAP: Four USOC semifinalists minted ]
Philadelphia, Chicago, and Houston were the other sides to get a place in the final four teams.
LAFC’s victory had already been marred by Adama Diomande‘s claims of a racial slur hurled his way, and now their victory may be in question altogether as U.S. Soccer issued a press release saying Thursday’s scheduled draw was postponed.
From a U.S. Soccer press release:
The decision comes as a result of a protest filed by the Portland Timbers in relation to the number of foreign players fielded by Los Angeles Football Club during Wednesday night’s Quarterfinal at Banc of America Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif.
The rule says a maximum five players without green cards can be in the 18. Portland started only two Americans, Jeff Attinella and Zarek Valentin, but have green cards for many others and rules are rules.
Will the Timbers take a semifinal berth via protest?