Update: ESPN’s Jeffrey Carlisle is reporting on Twitter that the U.S. Open Cup Adjudication panel will meet on Saturday to review the Timbers’ protest. According to Carlisle, the crux of the LAFC argument is that U.S. Soccer was specifically asked before the match if Kaye counted as a domestic player and were told that he did.
Carlisle also tweeted out a photo of the LAFC team sheet from Wednesday night’s match, on which Kaye is not listed as an international player.
The Portland Timbers today filed a formal protest in regards to Wednesday’s US Open Cup match at Los Angeles Football Club. The Timbers are claiming that LAFC used more than the limit of five foreign players in their 18-man roster. The official USOC statement is as follows:
U.S. Soccer has announced the Draw to determine hosts for the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinals and hosting priority for the Final has been postponed.
The decision comes as a result of a protest filed by the Portland Timbers in relation to the number of foreign players fielded by Los Angeles Football Club during Wednesday night’s Quarterfinal at Banc of America Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif.
The U.S. Open Cup Adjudication and Discipline Panel will review the matter as soon as possible. The timing for the Draw will be determined in the near future.
The rule in question is section 203 of the official US Open Cup rulebook (note that link goes straight to the PDF file, so it might download), which states: “A team may list up to 18 players on its game day roster. Professional teams may have no more than 5 foreign players listed. Amateur teams are not restricted as to the number of foreign players they may list. Foreign players shall be those players who are not protected individuals as defined in 8 U.S.C. § 1324b (e.g. U.S. Citizens, lawful permanent residents, asylees and refugees).”
LAFC fielded at least five foreign players on Wednesday night: Laurent Ciman, Carlos Vela, Marco Urena, Adama Diomande, and Diego Rossi. The potential sixth foreign player is Mark-Anthony Kaye, who is not listed as an international player on LAFC’s MLS roster, but Stumptown Footy has been told that he does not have a green card and, thus, would count as a foreign player as far as the USOC is concerned. When asked for comment last night, an LAFC spokesman said, “Kaye is not an international player,” but has not yet responded to a follow-up question specifically about his green card status.
Soccer writer Charles Boehm has also reported that Kaye does not have a green card.
I'm now hearing from another source with a high degree of confidence that Kaye does NOT have a green card, so let's see where this thing goes https://t.co/lQJCwpXRBc— Charles Boehm (@cboehm) July 19, 2018
It’s possible that Kaye’s MLS domestic eligibility comes from the “International Homegrown Player” rule, which states:
Any player who meets the requirements to qualify as a Homegrown Player as a member of an MLS club academy, either in the U.S. or Canada, or has met similar requirements as a member of a Canadian Approved Youth Club+, will count as a domestic player (i.e., he will not occupy an international spot) on both U.S. and Canadian club rosters provided that:
The player became a member of an MLS club academy, either in the U.S. or Canada, or a Canadian Approved Youth Club in the year prior to the year in which he turns 16;
AND the player signs his first professional contract with MLS or an MLS club’s USL affiliate.
Kaye did indeed sign his first professional contract with the Toronto FC academy, but his playing history before he turned 16 is currently unknown to Stumptown Footy.
At this point, it’s impossible to know for sure what’s going to happen. Even if the USOC investigation does determine LAFC broke the rules, the punishment could range from a fine to disqualification as stated in the official rules: “If any team plays an ineligible player in an Open Cup match, that team is subject to fines or other penalties, including game forfeiture, as determined by the Adjudication and Discipline Panel.”