Tuesday’s soccer news starts with the latest on the 2021 US Open Cup. US Soccer’s Open Cup Committee announced that the opening round of the tournament will not go ahead as planned. Instead, the Open Cup will start on May 18 with the round of 16. It should come as no surprise at this point that the committee took the decision due to the pandemic.
“After meeting with the committee and listening to our members and our medical professionals, it became clear that the difficulties of staging the Opening Round given the current environment made the decision to not play the correct one, as we will always prioritize the health and safety of the players and staff first,” US Open Cup Commissioner Paul Marstaller said in a press statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation and hope for more positive news in three weeks as it relates to the Round of 16.”
Major League Soccer announced that its eight participants will advance based on the league standings after the opening three weeks. They’ll join El Paso Locomotive, Louisville City, Phoenix Rising, and the Tampa Bay Rowdies from the USL Championship, Detroit City and Greenville Triumph from NISA, and two teams from the open division drawn randomly.
Though it’s far from the ideal of what the Open Cup represents, it’s also another example of the alterations necessary to get at least some of the games in. Other domestic leagues insisting on playing cup tournaments as normal has led to extreme fixture congestion. With that comes the same basic question for why playing only slightly modified version of these tournaments is so important right now.
It’s worth noting that Atlanta United announced on Monday that the squad had received the first round of vaccinations. Georgia opened up eligibility to all adults in the state, with more states following over the next few weeks. That could quickly change the scope of professional sports, potentially making it safer for players and fans.
Also in the soccer news, the United Soccer League announced a process that would lead to new ownership for the Charlotte Independence. “The United Soccer League announced today that the Charlotte Independence are in the process of selling several ownership stakes in the team, including that of majority owner Dan DiMicco,” the statement read. “The day-to-day management of the club – of which Mr. DiMicco and others are not directly involved – will continue to be overseen by President and Managing Partner Jim McPhilliamy. As such, the Club remains fully committed to all players, staff and community members as we move forward with the 2021 season and beyond.” ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle explains what led to the move. The Athletic’s Jeff Rueter also looks at the situation with the Independence.
Writing for SI, Grant Wahl tells the story of Ronaldo the club owner. The NY Times’ Tariq Panja and Joe Ward work through the potential revamp of the Champions League. Sky Sports reports on the UK government pushing for more fans at soccer games.
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Logo courtesy of the US Open Cup