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UPDATE: US Open Cup: Why is there no interest?

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UPDATE:

So apparently USSF reads SF because this story just came to print. Here is a quick quote:

MLS and U.S. Soccer officials have had conversations about revamping the bid system and the nearly-as-problematic format that requires certain MLS clubs to qualify for the tournament while giving others, like the Sounders, direct entry into the round-of-16.

A source with knowledge of those discussions told Sporting News that an announcement could be imminent and that the sport's administrators have agreed that the bid system is "shady and unfair."

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Tonight there will be held the longest running US soccer tradition, the US Open Cup Final. Almost 100 years of soccer tradition and almost no one knows about it or even cares. I really started thinking about the US open cup because of the fact that a lot of supporters from our hated rival like to point out that they have won the thing twice now and are in the final tonight. Is it really that big of an accomplishment? Maybe.

The reality is that the US Open Cup is broken and could be used as a means to further the sport in the US, especially with the interest the US has in underdogs. However it is not furthering the sport. There are two major issues that the USOC has, it really isn't an open cup and there is a closed door bidding process to determine who the home team is.

More After the Jump:

The Qualification Process

There are 5 different divisions that compete in the USOC and they are: MLS, USL Pro, Premier Development League, US Adult Soccer Association (amateur) and National Premier Soccer League (amateur). From those divisions here is the breakdown of the 40 participants in the USOC: MLS - 8 teams with 6 automatic qualifiers and 2 from play-ins from the remaining 10 teams. USL- 11 teams, all teams automatically qualify. PDL- 9 teams, the top US based team in each of the PDL divisions qualifies. Adult Soccer Association- 8 teams, the first and second place teams from each of the 4 regional divisions qualifies. NPSL - 4 teams, Determined by the USASA and varies from year to year (usually through regional tournaments)

So the question becomes why does the third division in US soccer get all of their teams automatically qualified and the MLS has to have 10 of their teams play against each other to get 8 teams? In that case a team like Chicago who is in the final will have played 6 games to reach the final, 4 of which are against MLS teams. While a team like Seattle will have played 6 games to reach the final 2 years in a row. How is that an open cup?

Yes I get that Seattle deserves a reward for being the winner but why should they punish the other MLS teams for being in the top flight in the US? While mighty Wilmington Hammerheads get to just waltz right in? The set-up isn't an open cup, it really is a convoluted tournament that needs to be tweaked.

To make it more interesting the USSF should keep three qualification processes for PDL, USASA And the NPSL the same but bump the number of qualifiers up to 37 (add in the 11 and 16 from the USL and MLS and you get 64!). Now take those 37 and group them regionally and then have a blind draw within those regions to play the first round with some of the teams getting byes. The winners play winners or teams that had byes in Round 2 and then in Round 3 you have the USL teams added to the mix. Finally in Round 4 the MLS teams get added and you keep going until you hit the Final.

There you go, a true open cup where the underdog can march all the way to the Final Four! Yeah Butler!

The Bidding Process

When Seattle won their first USOC in 2009 their GM had this to say about the bidding process:

The decision making process for US Soccer is based on the most compelling bid. The change of date did not seem to be an issue, but I am not certain exactly why we did not win vs DC United. Because the bidding is "objective" and "closed"... it is unlikely that we will ever know the reasoning. I can only assume that DC bid more money.

In the 2009 version DC did not play a single away game and Seattle played only 1 away game out the 4 games they had that year (it was against the Timbers). In 2010 Seattle again played only 1 away game and again it was against the Portland Timbers. This year Seattle played 0 away games, so over the span of the last 3 years Seattle has played 3 road games (1 was the Final against DC) out of the 12 games total they have played.

Granted they are using the same system as everyone else and so they aren't cheating they are just using the system to their advantage. However the system is garbage, it isn't a financial bid it is a closed bid that is "objective" and the most "compelling" one wins. What that means is that a team can "donate" their ticket sales to USSF or say they will promote the hell out of the game. Or you could say that they will have the game on TV or streaming over the internet for all to watch. You could even say that someone in the FO will dress up like a maid and clean USSF's headquarters. As long as the Bid is compelling enough that is who gets it.

Get rid of the bidding process and make it a true blind draw to see who hosts the game. Just adding would make it all the more interesting. Until the USSF makes some changes the USOC will always been an afterthought but if they make the necessary changes it can take off and be even more prominent.