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So late Tuesday night after the 2nd round of the US Open Cup was played (full results after the jump) both the Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake reached out to their opponents and made them offers that would allow them to host the 3rd round match at their location. Heck the Portland Timbers did it before their potential oppoents even played their match.
Now in years past the location of matches was decided by a blind bid process and while many didn't like that system it was what we had (I didn't like it, for a number of reasons). So this year US Soccer which runs the tournament made some changes, in part the biggest two changes were inclusion of all MLS teams at the 3rd round level and:
a random selection process for determining home teams from the first round through the quarterfinals among clubs that have applied to host. This change gives each participating team with a venue meeting tournament standards an equal chance at hosting its possible opponent for these rounds.
The first change eliminated the fact that MLS teams had been entering the tournament in the 4th round and that teams had to "qualify" for those spots via play in matches against other MLS teams. The second change appears to have had much more in it than what information was released to the public, including the option for teams to buy the hosting rights from other teams that might have won those rights via the random selection process.
Now there is more than meets the eyes when it comes to hosting a US Open Cup match, but most of those details are only known to the teams taking part in the tournament as they are part of the 2012 US Open Cup handbook( if anyone wants to send me a copy, let me know) but we do know that there are fees involved for hosting the 3rd and 4th rounds as well as the Quarterfinals (which now use the draw). Those fees start at 12K and head to 25K, plus 15% of the gate if it goes over 100K.
So while RSL and Seattle lost their draw they clearly wanted to host the event and were willing to work with the Minnesota Stars and Atlanta Silverbacks (both clubs without deep pockets) to change the venues, it is within the rules so why are some having a problem with it? Will those same people have a problem when the semifinals and final are decided by the bid process and awarded to the highest bidder? Here is a statement from the Silverbacks on how they will use those fund to improve the team and deliver more to the fans.
more thoughts after the jump:
So do people get upset when Portland chose the dimensions of their field? How about in Houston where they have more room but aren't using it? What about teams who choose to host matches at home during typically cold or very hot times of the day or year? Was it wrong when US Soccer makes the Mexican National team play in Columbus in February? Isn't it the responsibility of an organization to give their team the greatest chance of winning within the rules?
So isn't playing a match at home, without the travel issues, in front of your fans, doing your part to help your team win? I am sorry for those who want to respect the "integrity" of the draw process, because as long as there isn't a pure draw for the full tournament, as long as US Soccer leaves options like this on the table, there is no integrity to this portion of the Tournament.
Now next year will mark the 100th US Open Cup tournament, and maybe we are seeing for the first time that people want to make this tournament really matter, maybe US Soccer will look at making more sweeping changes that will solve issues like this, but until they do, I expect that any MLS team taking the US Open Cup seriously would do all they can to host any matches that they are in. I supported it when it was Seattle that did it, I support that Portland tried to do it even before they knew their opponent, and I support that RSL did it.
Later today we will hear the draw of potential 4th round matches, and I expect that this type of thing won't be over with yet.
For those who like to follow up on things, check out some of the names who scored goals last night in US Open Cup action, can you find all 6 former RSL players listed below?
Full results of 2nd round of US Open Cup:
SECOND-ROUND RESULTS - Tuesday, May 22
Michigan Bucks (PDL) 1, Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL PRO) 0: Stew Givens, the 2011 PDL Defender of the Year, came through on the offensive side Tuesday as he tallied the game-winning penalty kick goal in second-half stoppage time to lift Michigan past the Riverhounds at Chartiers Valley Stadium in Bridgeville, Pa.
Harrisburg City Islanders (USL PRO) 2, Long Island Rough Riders (PDL) 0: Yann Ekra and Brian Ombiji each netted second-half goals as host Harrisburg posted a shutout against Long Island at the Skyline Sports Complex in Harrisburg, Pa.
Cal FC (USASA) 4, Wilmington Hammerheads (USL PRO) 0: Danny Barrera scored twice and Artur Aghasyan and Pedro Ferreira also tallied goals as Cal FC upset Wilmington at the Legion Sports Complex in Wilmington, N.C. The USASA side built a 3-0 lead heading into halftime and never looked back.
Carolina RailHawks (NASL) 6, PSA Elite (USASA) 0: Brian Shriver scored four goals as the RailHawks breezed past PSA Elite at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. Three of Shriver's goals came in the first half as Carolina built a 5-0 advantage through the first 45 minutes. Amir Lowery and Zack Schilawski also had goals for the RailHawks.
Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) 7, Fresno Fuego (PDL) 2: Fort Lauderdale overcame a slow start and piled on six second-half goals to defeat Fresno at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Aly Hassan scored three goals, two in the second half, to lead the scoring charge. Mark Anderson, Walter Restrepo and Leopoldo Morales also found the scoring column for Fort Lauderdale.
Orlando City Soccer Club (USL PRO) 7, K.C. Athletics (USASA) 0: Max Griffin and John Rooney each had two goals and Orlando City benefited from an early own goal during its win against Kansas City at the Seminole Soccer Complex in Sanford, Fla. Orlando's Jamie Watson and Matt Luzunaris also chipped in with a goal.
Charleston Battery (USL PRO) 2, Reading United AC (PDL) 1: Nicki Paterson's 79th-minute goal completed a second-half comeback for Charleston against Reading at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C. Reading's Olutolani Ibikunle gave his side a 1-0 lead in the 64th minute, but Charleston responded with a Dane Kelly goal in the 69th minute and Paterson's winner about 10 minutes later.
Rochester Rhinos (USL PRO) 3, Brooklyn Italians (NPSL) 0: Thomas McManus, Conor Chinn and JC Banks each found the net and Rochester blanked Brooklyn at Sahlen's Stadium in Rochester, N.Y. Brooklyn defender Kirk Scarlet was sent off in the 59th minute for a hard challenge against McManus.
Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) 3, Jacksonville United (NPSL) 0: Mike Ambersley's second-minute goal was the early difference and Dan Antoniuk and Keith Savage added goals during Tampa Bay's victory at Patton Park in Jacksonville, Fla. The match was delayed for one hour because of lightning.
Richmond Kickers (USL PRO) 4, Dulles Sportsplex Aegean Hawks FC (USASA) 0: Gerson dos Santos had two goals and Christopher Agorsor and Nozomi Hiroyama each had a goal as Richmond made quick work of the Aegean Hawks at Maryland SoccerPlex Stadium in Boyds, Md.
Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL) 1, at Georgia Revolution (NPSL) 0: Raphael Cox scored the game's lone goal in the 61st minute as Atlanta held on for the one-goal victory at RYSA Soccerplex in Conyers, Ga.
San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) 2, Laredo Heat (PDL) 0: In a match that featured three red cards, San Antonio prevailed on the strength of goals from Pablo Campos and Kevin Harmse at the Blossom Athletic Center in San Antonio, Texas. San Antonio played a portion of the first half shorthanded following Walter Ramirez's 25th-minute red card.
Dayton Dutch Lions (USL PRO) 2, Chicago Fire PDL (PDL) 1: Dayton's Dan Holowaty found the game-winner several minutes into second-half stoppage time for the win at the Toyota Park Practice Field in Bridgeview, Ill. The Fire PDL's Brendan King tied the score at 1-1 in the 90th minute. But Holowaty quickly got that goal back during a scramble in the box shortly after a Dayton corner kick.
Minnesota Stars FC (NASL) 2, Des Moines Menace (PDL) 0: Despite playing more than half of the match shorthanded, Minnesota blanked host Des Moines at Valley Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa. Simone Bracalello scored a goal in the 19th minute and Miguel Ibarra added an insurance tally in the 84th minute.
Charlotte Eagles (USL PRO) at El Paso Patriots (PDL): Nate Thornton broke the stalemate with a 72nd-minute goal as the Eagles defeated El Paso at Patriots Stadium in El Paso, Texas.
Ventura County Fusion (PDL) 3, Los Angeles Blues (USL PRO) 1 (OT): Frankie Lopez scored two goals, including the go-ahead goal in the 107th minute, to lead Ventura County at Fullert
So what do you think about the US Open Cup, what do you think of teams buying the rights to host matches this year?
OFF MY SOAPBOX