July 23, 2009

Open Cup Overhaul

Your US Open Cup final will be played in Washington between DC United and the Seattle Sounders. Seattle is mad because it draws well and feels like it should have gotten the final, and seemingly is implying that DC United receives preferential treatment from the USSF. DCU is offended and feels that they made a better financial offer to USSF.

The biggest issue is the fact that teams can buy the rights to host games. For a tournament that is designed to give every team in the US a chance to win, that is blown out of the water from the beginning with the bid process.

The move to make the tournament regional in the early rounds was a great move. It keeps costs down and leads to some great rivalry games, like the Portland-Seattle 3rd round match this year.

I can understand why things were done this way in the past, but if we want to move on and make this tournament more meaningful, it needs to be done as a blind draw to see who hosts. USSF can set the minimum standards for facilities eligible to host as stringent as they choose, however if a team can meet these standards, they shouldn't lose out because their opponents offered to pay USSF more money.

My NPSL team, Atlanta FC, has a budget along the lines of a developmental player in MLS. It isn't possible for us to outbid a pro team to host the game, we don't have the finances. Should we be punished for that in this tournament? It is precisely teams at the lower levels that need the benefit of hosting these games. Chivas USA, Chicago Fire, or the LA Galaxy visiting a PDL or NPSL team is a great story. Can you imagine what it could do to sustain our teams at the grassroots levels?

Atlanta FC proposed that any games we were chosen to host would be fundraisers for our Soccer in the Streets program, School of Life, that gives kids hands on experience in the business of soccer. We were not chosen to host in the 1st round against the Charleston Battery, and we would not have hosted in the 2nd round against either opponent. I guess money talks.

This is supposed to USSF's national championship, let's do it the right way.

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