X’s response to Major League Soccer’s withdrawal from the 2024 US Open Cup

Major League Soccer (MLS) has made an unprecedented move by withdrawing its first teams from the 2024 US Open Cup and replacing them with its MLS Next Pro affiliate sides. This decision has sparked diverse reactions online.

Many soccer supporters in the United States were shocked by the decision, as the US Open Cup is the oldest tournament in American soccer history, dating back to 1914. Some view this move as MLS sidelining a prestigious competition due to a sense of outgrowing it, even if it’s just for the 2024 season.

The reasoning behind MLS withdrawing its first teams lies in the revenue generated by the US Open Cup, which is significantly lower compared to that of the CONCACAF Champions Cup and Leagues Cup. This reflects MLS’s priority of maximizing profits, rather than advancing the game of soccer across the country.

An argument can be made that MLS is following in the footsteps of the English FA Cup, which is highly valued compared to the Carabao Cup. However, this move has been met with skepticism, especially considering consumer interest and potential implications for non-MLS teams.

The issue of fixture congestion has been raised by MLS as a contributing factor to their decision. However, a schedule burden that includes Leagues Cup, alongside regular season and postseason games, has been self-inflicted by the league.

Former MLS midfielder Sacha Kljestan expressed disapproval of the decision. Kljestan, who had a distinguished career with over 300 league appearances before retiring with LA Galaxy in 2022, highlighted the rich history of the US Open Cup and the potential impact on non-MLS teams.

Critics argue that the Open Cup provides valuable exposure for non-MLS teams, and denying them that platform could have detrimental financial consequences. The competition has been viewed as a means for non-MLS teams to compete with their professional counterparts.

The sentiment that the US Open Cup has rich history notwithstanding, MLS’s decision has sparked debates about the value of the tournament. The potential for lower-tier or semi-professional teams to upset MLS sides is seen as one of the defining charms of the Cup.

However, there is also a perception that the US Open Cup may have more appeal in theory than in practice. The practicalities of the competition, especially in terms of audience interest and television appeal, have been questioned.

In summary, MLS’s decision to withdraw its first teams from the US Open Cup and replace them with MLS Next Pro affiliate sides has ignited a firestorm of debate. While the move has drawn criticism, it has also provided an opportunity to re-evaluate the dynamics of the US Open Cup in the broader context of American soccer.

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