The soccer social media world was ablaze on Friday when it was announced MLS intends to leave the US Open Cup. Heated reactions to the news came fast and furious, and have continued ever since. Disappointment, head-scratching confusion, and downright anger have been vented by many who follow the sport in the US.

MLS has in the past been dismissive of the Open Cup competition, but this was still a very bold move. Until now, they begrudgingly participated as required in the USSF Pro League Standards for all US-based professional teams.

MLS quits the US Open Cup – and social media lets them have it

The decision by MLS to back out of the nation’s 110-year-old national championship tournament, and send their 3rd division reserve teams in their stead, was met with overwhelming negativity across the American soccer community.

Media members, former players, executives, and supporters alike voiced opinions ranging from concern to calling for boycotts of the league. In short, nobody likes this, MLS.

“…a disservice to the fans but also to the sport itself.”

The Independent Supporters Collective – a collective representing supporters groups across MLS and all leagues in North America – released a statement condemning the move.

In part, the statement reads “MLS’s withdrawal of their first teams from the Cup is not only a disservice to the fans but also to the sport itself. It undermines the inclusive nature of American soccer, where dreams and ambitions are nurtured on the principle of open competition. The decision threatens to erode the very foundations of the sport’s heritage and its connection to communities.”

Individual groups within MLS, nearly universally, panned the decision as well.

Many media members weighed in as well, and the story has even made it to some outlets that usually don’t cover soccer.


Across the soccer landscape, very few defended MLS’s actions. It’s clear that this will go down as one of the most controversial and unpopular maneuvers ever made by an American soccer league.

Sebastian Salazar and Herculez Gomez had some sizzling critiques on the issue. They hammered MLS for the move. They even went so far as to suggest US Soccer remove MLS commissioner Don Garber from its board and revoke MLS’s division one sanctioning.

Sacha Kljestan, who played for years in MLS, had 52 caps with the USMNT, and now works as an analyst for the league’s Apple TV coverage was also critical of the move. However, shortly after, he followed up with a softer stance surely more pleasing to his current employers:

It wasn’t just fans and soccer media who were riled up over the news. Former GM and president of the Chicago Fire Peter Wilt added to the discourse. Wilt, whose Fire won three Cups during his tenure, suggested fans should boycott MLS until they return to the competition.

Exclusivity over inclusivity

Former MLS and USMNT defender, and 2004 Open Cup champion, Jimmy Conrad noted his disappointment with the decision.

Conrad was quick to point out that MLS’s claims of schedule congestion were a flimsy argument. They created Leagues Cup, which added as many, if not more for some teams, to the calendar as the Open Cup.

The silver lining in this dubious situation is that it has united much of the American soccer community.

Both hardcore MLS supporters and critics of the league alike have joined in their disdain for the decision.

But no matter how much we hate it, the league’s intent has been laid out for all to see. Whether the USSF allows it to go through remains to be seen.

Photo: Imago