As we are all awaiting the future of our top professional leagues in MLS & the USL when the 2010 calendar starts this coming January there will be some questions before their respective seasons start. At the same time we are going to also await the future structure of the next edition of the US Open Cup. This past summer you have seen and read hard nosed reporting by Kartik Krishnaiyer & Brian Quarstad of Inside Minnesota Soccer on the situation of the United Soccer Leagues from the start to a rocky finish with the sale by Nike that was suppose to go towards the Traffic group, but got blindsided when friends of Francisco Marcos came out of nowhere to help keep the league remain in Marcos hands.
There is growing concerns that those clubs leaving the USL to create a new breakaway league will become a reality and could force the Open Cup Committee to rearrange the structure of the tournament. What could’ve been a possible eleven to twelve clubs in the USL-1st Division next season( Not Counting Montreal, Puerto Rico & Vancouver) could be split in half and at the same time we don’t know if any of the eight USL-2nd Division sides ( Not Counting the Bermuda Hogges) will be joining this breakaway league.
Maybe it’s time for the Open Cup Committee to give some spots in the first round to that other Semi-Professional League along with the PDL & the USASA. For some people they are known & for some they might be hearing about it for the first time, but I think the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) should get their chances as well. A league with five conferences and a grand total of 27 clubs has enough to fill in certain spots and make this competition better.
My structure would be rounds one thru four with the Quarters, Semis & the Championship Final. The first round would be eight PDL sides with one wild card (two per conference), Eight USASA with one wild card (two per region) & Ten NPSL sides with one wild card (two per conference). Joining them would be the three USL-2nd Division clubs that finished seventh to last in the 2009 standings, pairings would be geographical.
Second Round would have sixteen first round winners face against five USL-2nd Division sides, five of the six USL-1st division sides & the six clubs of the new breakaway league. Pairings would be considered a blind draw as Round 1 winners will be in one bowl & the clubs starting in Round 2 would be in another. One ball picked per bowl would determine the matchups.
Third Round would have sixteen second round winners face against the fifthteen American MLS Sides & the winner of the 2009 USL-1st Division. If one of the clubs that is apart of the possible new league wins the USL-1st title, then they would join the MLS sides in the third round. Matchups remain with the blind draw as described for the second round.
Fourth Round will be the round of sixteen as third round winners will face each other in a blind draw in one bowl. Then the Quarters & semi-finals. US Soccer can continue to keep their bid process for which of the four semi-finalists will host the championship final of the US Open Cup.
While I understand that there are still plenty of matches remaining on the MLS & USL Schedules and the playoffs haven’t arrived yet, sometimes you have to sit back and think outside the box and be aware of the possible changes that are coming in the future of US Club Soccer. There have been reports that the NPSL have submitted a proposal to US Soccer to earn an additional four spots for their clubs to compete in. I think this idea would definitely be in favor of the NPSL.
After this past front office feud between Kevin Paign of DC United & Adrian Hanauer of the Seattle Sounders giving some spice to the tournament, I believe that there is plenty of passion and excitement for the future of the US Open Cup. But now it’s time for US Soccer & the Open Cup Committee to come together and match that same passion and excitement from us supporters who loves this version of England’s FA Cup.
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