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Sporting KC to Compete in 2024 US Open Cup



US Soccer announced the 2024 US Open Cup format today, and Sporting Kansas City will be competing in the tournament. Sporting is one of only eight MLS teams to be competing in this year’s competition, joining Atlanta United, FC Dallas, Los Angeles FC, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders, and defending champions, Houston Dynamo.

Much has been made over the last couple months as back in December MLS had announced their intention to enter their MLS Next Pro teams in the competition instead of their first teams. This was under the premise of reducing schedule congestion on players and getting players in MLSNP a higher level of competition. US Soccer’s initial response to MLS was to deny the league’s request to use MLSNP teams, as USSF’s professional league standards require teams to compete in all representative US Soccer and CONCACAF competitions that they are eligible for. Since that time, MLS and US Soccer have been negotiating on how the league would compete in the competition but still meet MLS’s desire to reduce fixture congestion.

The decision that was reached is that the top seven teams in MLS’s Supporter Shield standings in 2023 that didn’t qualify for the CONCACAF Champions Cup, along with the defending champion Dynamo would make up MLS’s representatives in the tournament. The teams that qualified for the CONCACAF Champions Cup will not be competing in the tournament at all this year. Nine of the other MLS teams will be entering their MLS Next Pro team into the tournament in their place. The only other US based MLS team not competing in the US Open Cup this year is DC United, who still have their partnership with USL Championship side Loudoun United and no MLS Next Pro team.

The first round of the tournament will start between March 19th and 21st, with MLS Next Pro teams entering along with all other Division III (USL1, NISA) and Open Division (Open Division local qualifiers, NPSL, USL2) teams. Sporting, along with the other MLS teams, will enter the tournament in the round of 32, taking place May 7th or 8th.

Between the eight MLS teams are thirteen US Open Cup championships, led but Sporting and the Sounders, each with four. Those two teams will look to become the first team in the MLS era to win five US Open Cups, joining Bethlehem Steel and Maccabee Los Angeles.

The decision has met it’s fair share of complaints from fans, players, coaches, and other front office staff, both since word came out in December and today with the format announced. It has been pointed out that on average the number of games added by the US Open Cup last year to MLS teams’ schedules was fewer than the games added to the schedule by the revamped Leagues Cup.

In their announcement on this year’s format, US Soccer CEO JT Baston made sure to point out that this format was specifically for the 2024 edition of the tournament. Meaning that this may not be the format going forward for the competition. The announcement also makes clear that US Soccer is making it’s ‘largest-ever investment’ in the tournament in 2024.

Maybe with an expansion of MLS rosters in the near future, or an adjustment of loans from MLSNP teams to MLS rosters the tournament will get back to seeing all US based MLS teams competing in the tournament.

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