The soccer news starts with Atlanta United hosting Minnesota United in the 2019 US Open Cup final. We’re past the point in this tournament where at least one of the teams is likely leaning on the questionable importance of their league schedule to justify not using their best lineup. Both Atlanta and Minnesota are all in, with Atlanta trying to add to their Campeones Cup also won at home earlier this month. For Minnesota, this would be their first trophy.
“It’s a huge game for us considering, two and a half years in,” Minnesota coach Adrian Heath said. “We can look forward to it with excitement, that’s what you have to do. Or as I’ve said to the players before, I’ve played in cup finals, won them. I’ve played in cup finals and lost them and people go, we’re going to enjoy it. Trust me, you only enjoy it when you win and that’s what we are going to try and have to do.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Doug Roberson reports that Atlanta is ready to win another cup. The Star Tribune’s Jerry Zgoda has Minnesota stressing how important winning the US Open Cup would be for the team. That’s good news for organizers and fans of the ideal of the tournament. The US Open Cup struggles to get full commitment from MLS teams, the likeliest teams to make it to the later rounds.
A quality final could help push the importance of the entire competition. That’s still an issue where the prize money and the spot in the Concacaf Champions League isn’t doing enough to convince some teams to prioritize the Open Cup. We’ve seen Open Cup teams before. DC United, Seattle, and Sporting KC prioritized it, but that can be a tough sell for fans if that team isn’t competitive in MLS.
Blaming the league schedule for rotating in squad players for Open Cup games picked up this season due to MLS revamping its calendar. There’s certainly a point that more midweek games and added pressure put the league first. Still, unlike the Leagues Cup, there’s no surprise that Open Cup commitments are on the schedule.
MLS teams can point to league games as the only ones that matter, but they have to matter. A struggling club not taking advantage of the Open Cup is shortsighted, even in a league with a playoff safety net. Atlanta at the top of the Eastern Conference and Minnesota in a tight playoff race in the West could send a different message on Tuesday, showing that the Open Cup matters as much to them as the league schedule.
Pro Soccer USA’s Tristan D’Amours explains Montreal’s situation with a new coach and an outside chance at making the playoffs. SBI Soccer’s Larry Henry Jr interviews USMNT and Rotherham United player Matthew Olosunde. American Soccer Now’s Brian Sciaretta talks to Red Bull Leipzig coach Jesse Marsch who is finding success in the Austrian Bundesliga.
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