'A very poor reflection' - U.S. soccer has an Open Cup problem, claims MLS commissioner Don Garber
- Open Cup has existed since 1914
- Criticised for accessibility and pitch quality
- MLS commissioner Garber urges USSF to "get better"
WHAT HAPPENED? The single-elimination tournament features both professional and amateur sides and has been running since 1914, taking place every year bar the COVID-19-affected editions of 2020 and 2021. However, the Open Cup has come under fire in recent years for its general lack of fan awareness and subpar playing surfaces. As a result, many clubs have tended to see it as lower in priority and have thus fielded weakened teams.
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WHAT THEY SAID: Garber raised these issues in a session held among the Federation's board of directors on Friday, stating: "I would say that they're not games that we would want our product to be shown to a large audience. So frankly, I'm not all that disappointed that the audience is small. So I appreciate the enthusiasm about it, but we need to get better with the U.S. Open Cup. It's just not the proper reflection of what soccer in America at the professional level needs to be."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: USSF chief commercial officer David Wright, who has previously said that the Federation was being "really bullish" about the tournament, echoed Garbers thoughts. He added: "I think we concur. We understand that the Open Cup is not where we all want it to be, and we're committed to getting there. It also takes resources and something that we're spending a lot of time thinking about. I think it is a natural opportunity to take a step back now, particularly that we've got renewed interest from media partners, which I think is a critical component to this. But you're right to call out. There's other areas of the property that we've got to continue to hone in and refine as we think to the future."
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WHAT NEXT? This year's Open Cup is currently at the last-32 stage, as two of the 26 MLS sides have already been eliminated. The final will take place on September 27, with a place in the 2024 CONCACAF Champions League up for grabs for the victors.
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