In U.S Soccer, each year we cling on to the U.S Open Cup, the only competition in U.S Soccer that gives Semi-Pro/amateur clubs the opportunity to face professional clubs.
Throughout the years there have been great stories from the Brooklyn Italians winning the cup in 1979 and 1991 to Christos FC playing against DC United of Major League Soccer.
With the recent expansion in Professional leagues sanctioned by U.S Soccer, there will be less slots for semi- pro/amauter clubs to participate in the U.S Open Cup. United States Adult Soccer Association President John Paul Motta tweeted recently on this topic: The US Soccer by-laws state that every Professional team MUST enter the U.S Open Cup, thus, it is true that the more Pro teams that enter the less slots will be available for Amateur Teams. I heard that it may happen as early as next year.
"Each year the federation needs to approve all professional Leagues and see that they meet the standards said United States Adult Soccer Association President John Paul Motta. At that time, new professional leagues may apply for professional stats. I was not at the Board meeting on October 20th, so I do not know if they approved any new professional leagues.
If they did, those Professional teams, by the by-laws, Must, participate in the U.S Open Cup. Since the window for games in 2019 are limited, ever professional team decreases the amateur team allotment by so many. Thus we may have as few as 10-12 slots, depending on how many new professional teams are there.
For example in England, they have four professional leagues, that they label the Football League and that consists of 92 clubs. That's just in their four professional leagues, not to mention the non league, hundreds of amateur clubs representing their local communities.
Will there ever be a way we can control the competition so that regardless of the amount of professional teams we can still see lower division clubs participating in the tournament?
"Yes, if we open the dates from March until November said USASA President John Paul Motta. The MLS have asked for this numerous times, and we have pushed back to accommodate the NPSL and the PDL Clubs".
Without semi-pro/amauter clubs participating in the U.S Open Cup, the tournament would become a second MLS competition or a professional league cup. In the name, it clearly states U.S Open Cup, meaning clubs from throughout the pyramid can participate in the tournament.
Lower division clubs should not have to look for an alternative because the U.S Soccer Federation should be making the proper changes to the tournament, so that regardless of how many pro clubs there are, there still should be an opportunity for the lower division clubs.
If one day there are fewer slots for lower division clubs in the U.S Open Cup, they will have to play in the U.S National Amateur Cup. "There is a little bit more pretentiousness playing in the Open Cup and playing against Professional Clubs, but in reality, will an Amateur Club ever win the Open Cup said USASA President John Paul Motta? The Amateur teams have a much better chance of winning the US Amateur Cup than the Open Cup. The Amateur Cup is also one of the oldest Cups out there, and we have upped the winnings, $15,000 prize and an automatic entry into the 1st round of the Open Cup, thus eliminating the qualifying stages". "Last year our National Office took over the Amateur Cup at Region 4 and we got more entries there than the last 10 years. The Regions do a good job promoting it and if we saw that there is much more interest, we could probably do more with it".
The U.S Open Cup gives lower division clubs nationwide media attention which will allow the club to attract more fans in stadium and across the country. Local businesses will start to take notice and might want to sponsor their club.
As you can see the U.S Open Cup gives lower division clubs something to dream about, potentially playing professional clubs and adding their names to the history books.
I had to ask U.S Soccer Board Member John Paul Motta if he can ever see a day when U.S Soccer excludes lower division clubs from the tournament. "I do not see that happening. The Federation knows the value of having amateur teams involved. The others members - MLS, USL - also see a value. The Federation will probably never exclude amateur teams from the Open Cup".
John Paul Motta is no longer the amateur representative on the U.S Open Cup Committee. Shonna Schroedl is currently the represntive on the committee. Hopefully she will fight for the lower division clubs.
The problem is that lower division clubs continue to lack an effective voice in American soccer and this is exacerbated with a new U.S Open Cup committee representative that is disconnected from the game. John Paul Motta lives the game every single day, he's currently President of the United States Adult Soccer Association. When he hears a concern or a problem from a stakeholder of the game he tells the committee but its up to them to make the proper changes.
The truth is that we all love the game and there are stakeholders across the country who dedicate their lives to the game, but there are people at the top that don't care. At the end of the day we might fight for what's right, but they have the final decision and they don't care what we think. That's the sad reality of U.S Soccer.