With USSF’s simultaneous announcement of the NASL’s sanctioning as the D2 pyramid level, as well as their exclusion from the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in 2011 (covered by our own Daniel Feuerstein), red flags started being raised. USSF President Sunil Gulati’s assertion that it was “too late” for the NASL’s 5 American teams to be included in the format seemed questionable at best, given that in 2010 the format was published on May 5th.

Today, the USSF miraculously finalized and published the full format of the 2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, nearly 3 months ahead of their 2010 pace. I think the USSF should be commended for their diligence in getting the structure and dates set in such a timely, almost unbelievably quick fashion compared to previous years.

It’s tough to tell what changed, if there was any impetus to push this through so early. Maybe they wanted to give loyal supporters plenty of opportunity to purchase tickets. Maybe they wanted to help venues plan ahead for the dates. Maybe the US Open Cup Fairy appeared out of thin air, sprinkled her pixie dust, and magically aligned the dates and said, “Voila! Here’s your schedule!”

I would remark that the timing is very fortunate. Or unfortunate, depending on your point of view. I mean, if it weren’t for the expeditious planning for this tournament by nearly three months, they might have still been able to find a way to incorporate those filthy D2 level teams. But as it was, obviously this proves that Mr. Gulati was speaking the truth. I mean, it’s been all of three days since his announcement, and there it is! If only he had thought to mention that in three days there would be a big announcement about the USSF’s marquee tournament, it would have settled our hearts and minds about the veracity of his statement. But as it happened, it ended up looking as if the outrage needed to be quelled, so a long distance call to US Open Cup Fairyland was necessary, and, “Voila!”

All I can say is, Major League Soccer should consider hiring the scheduler for their own purposes. Heck, a hire like that could get their schedule out before Christmas. Lord knows that I’d love Philadelphia Union tickets next Christmas. Guess it’s time to get my letter to Santa started…

Good day!