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USA Today via Reuters

Soccer enthusiasts in the United States are on cloud nine for the 2024 domestic campaign. Anticipation brews for the impending MLS and the Leagues Cup. While supporters can’t seem to contain their excitement for the action-packed season, a cloud of disappointment looms. Reports suggest that the much-anticipated 2024 US Open Cup is on the verge of being canceled. 

As per writer Michael Battista, U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer are yet to come to the same page regarding the format of the 2024 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Unfortunately, the situation is not good between the two parties. In fact, various reports indicate that the Division 1 league has been ‘held hostage‘ as MLS first teams are abstaining from participation in the Open Cup. This might lead to the cancellation of the tournament. Notably, this comes after the MLS expressed their desire to not compete in the oldest national soccer tournament in December 2023. 

They urged US Soccer to sanction their request to allow the participation of the MLS NEXT Pro teams instead, which are basically the reserve teams of the MLS clubs. However, days later, the US Federation released an official statement, stating that the league’s request had been denied. Notably, Athletic writer Jeff Reuter earlier reported that U.S. Soccer would permit the nine US-based MLS franchises qualified for the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup to opt out of participating in the U.S. Open Cup. This would help to alleviate scheduling congestion for those teams.

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Another suggestion gave MLS teams a choice to either field their first team or developmental squad in the tournament. Additionally, there was a proposal for clubs to increase their rosters, potentially doubling the current MLS maximum squad size of 30 players. Yet, what’s the reason behind MLS’ exit from the US Open Cup?

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Why does the MLS want to break ties with the US Open Cup?

Michael Battista reports that the MLS appears uninterested in finding a genuine solution to the issues surrounding the US Open Cup. Though the league and its player association point to player tiredness and schedule congestion as their main issues, they are unwilling to change roster requirements to make room for additional players. Furthermore, it is decided that the tournament’s suggested modifications are too drastic to be practical.

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It appears that the league would rather see the competition scrapped entirely or reduced to obscurity—i.e., by using reserve teams. The MLS is thought to benefit from this, allowing it to give younger players development opportunities against professional teams. Also, there’s always the chance that a reserve squad to make an impression. Whatever the case may be, a final decision must be made between the MLS and US Soccer for the US Open Cup. 

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