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MLS-owned USL teams kicked from US Open Cup

Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

After an amendment to the US Open Cup bylaws was passed by U.S. Soccer, MLS-owned USL teams won't be allowed in the tournament.

That amendment:

"Any Outdoor Professional League Team that is majority owned by a higher-level Outdoor Professional League Team shall be ineligible to participate in the Open Cup. The Open Cup Committee shall review and determine team eligibility annually pursuant to this provision and report its decisions to the National Board of Directors."

That change was reported yesterday by, inarguably the best source for US Open Cup news. They cite concerns about USL teams fielding weakened squads as one of the potential reasons for the change.

Frankly, this stinks a little bit — watching Real Monarchs in the US Open Cup was fun (if a little tedious), and watching Real Salt Lake struggle against Seattle Sounders 2 was probably fun in Seattle.

It also undermines the fact that these are separate clubs in a separate league, not in a distinct reserves league. If the goal is to eliminate teams fielding weakened squads with their USL sides, shouldn't the goal be more to eliminate the influence of loaned players than to oust those teams?

Still, if we're to be a little devious about it, though, one might connect a few dots:

  • MLS teams are owned by the league and run by operator-investors
  • Who owns USL teams associated with MLS franchises? Is it the operator-investor, or is it MLS?
  • If an operator-investor owns the USL team, and MLS owns the MLS team, does that skirt this rule?