Welcome to Partially Obstructed View. We are each restrained by the limits of our own perspective, but when we meet to share information a clearer picture of the truth can be revealed. Comments & criticisms are welcome.

Thursday 30 June 2011

First Person View – The US Open Cup

    For the life of me, I cannot figure out why this tournament gets no respect.

    The third round kicked-off Tuesday night pitting eight MLS clubs against the eight remaining contenders after the first two rounds whittled down the competition.

    The sole upset saw Columbus fall 1-2 to the third division Richmond Kickers a momentous act of giant killing assisted by a Danny O’Rourke red card. All the scores were pretty close – other than the Sporting Chicago Fire Premier result - considering the disparities in budgets between some of the clubs. And isn’t that the beauty of soccer, it’s such a tight game with the result hinged on a single goal or decision, that despite gaps of talent upsets are possible.

    While more David’s beating Goliath’s would have been intriguing, I think the regional nature of many of these matches was a brilliant idea. Headlined by New York (Red Bulls vs. FC) and Los Angeles (Galaxy vs. Blues) derbies, as well as the Washington State duel (Sounders vs. Kitsap Pumas) this round of action had real potential to capture the attention of both local and nationwide audiences.

    Though the tournament has long struggled for recognition it was forward progress that all of these matches were made available via live streaming at club websites. Maybe as the profile of the sport grows more than just the final will be available on television.

    There were some great stories on display for those who looked hard enough. The Scott Brothers battling in the Pumas-Sounders match – as well as the coaching relationship between the two clubs. The former MLS players, trialists, and draft picks in action; players hoping to get a chance on the big stage and those reveling in their one shot to visit some of the finest pitches in the nation.

    I would like to see the MLS clubs enter at an earlier stage, increasing the chance for cup upsets, but that is likely avoided to limit the amount of potential embarrassment. The extended rosters of young players who get limited competition in reserve and academy matches would benefit greatly by the chance for them to get proper experience in matches that matter to the club.

    There would be risks to such a venture other than the professional humiliation such as that of bodily harm that can be done when less-skilled players resort to physicality.

    One positive in the current set-up is that the winner does get automatic passage to the CONCACAF Champions League, a now respected prize. It is often mused that to revitalize the FA Cup England should give the winner a UEFA Champions League place.

    Until the entire pyramid of soccer becomes more developed this tournament will remain a curio, but it is still nice to watch.  As the competition near its centenary I think it’s finally resurfacing after years of being pushed to the side.

    Maybe someday soon as MLS matures and the lower divisions get their act in order they will recognize the beauty of an open competition such as this and the US Open Cup will take its place as the centrepiece of the American soccer calendar. 

For more information be sure to check out the unofficial website.