The United States Soccer Federation announced it has ruled against allowing Major League Soccer (MLS) to remove its first teams from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and replace them with teams from its developmental league, MLS Next Pro.
“Major League Soccer has requested to allow MLS Next Pro teams to represent MLS in the 2024 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. After thoughtful consideration, we have informed MLS that the U.S. Soccer staff recommendation, which was adopted by the Pro League Taskforce, is that the request be denied,” USSF said in a statement.
“As we move forward, we will continue our review of the Open Cup to ensure it aligns with the U.S. Soccer strategic pillars. We remain committed to addressing the needs and concerns of all of our members, including MLS, and other stakeholders to enhance and improve the U.S. Open Cup.”
MLS announced its plan Friday afternoon, before it had informed U.S. Soccer.
The USSF professional league standards state, “U.S.-based teams must participate in all representative U.S. Soccer and CONCACAF competitions for which they are eligible.”
The Open Cup, which began in 1914 and is the nation’s longest-running soccer competition, meets the criteria, as it is governed by U.S. Soccer.
“MLS took that step [to remove its first teams] because it believes that there are several essential goals and concerns that must be addressed in connection with the tournament, including developing young professional players and providing them with greater opportunity to play before fans in meaningful competition in a tournament setting, prioritizing player health and safety, reducing schedule congestion for MLS clubs, and enhanced investment from U.S. Soccer,” MLS said in a statement said.