USL is eying a possible July start to their seasons, which could mean a potential withdrawal from the U.S. Open Cup.
USL president Jake Edwards told Sports Illustrated the congested fixture schedule needed to complete the season in time for a fall postseason would make it difficult to also compete in the Open Cup, the oldest continuously contested competition in the country.
“The compression of the schedule when we return to play this year is going to be significant, and that presents huge challenges for our league,” Edwards told SI. “And our league, as we’ve said, is match-day revenue dependent. We need to focus on the league matches, the regular season and postseason, as the priority for the health and long-term well-being of our clubs.”
Complicating matters is the fact USL League Two wold have to conclude by the middle of August for college players to return to school, while the Championship and League One are looking to maximize that critical match-day revenue. The Athletic reports the USL may split conferences for a shortened season.
How the divisions+schedule may look — and why the format could lead to interleague play in the future. https://t.co/kaR97wC156
— Jeff Rueter (@jeffrueter) April 15, 2020
“We’ve expressed our concern [to the U.S. Soccer Federation] that we won’t be able to accommodate participating in the competition,” Edwards said. “You’re looking at a lot of Tuesday-Saturday games for the vast majority of the season. So where would you fit in Open Cup games? And the additional travel and burden on the players to do that would be significant.”
The Athletic first reported the possibility of USL, which has 42 teams entered, pulling out of the competition. That would also complicate things for U.S. Soccer, which would have to decide on a truncated competition or canceling the 107th edition altogether.
“At this time we are hoping we can figure out a way to still play the 2020 Open Cup, but we’re in the same wait-and-see situation as everyone else in the sports world,” U.S. Soccer said in a statement to SI. “We won’t know what’s possible until there’s clarity on when the professional leagues are coming back and they’ve determined their schedule.”