Connect with us

Lionel Messi

MLS sparks outrage by ditching US Open Cup in ‘Messi Mania’ power play

Major League Soccer (MLS) ignited a firestorm on Friday by announcing its withdrawal from the 2024 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, the country’s oldest national soccer tournament. 

This unprecedented move came as a surprise to everyone. The decision is akin to La Liga or the Premier League skipping their respective cup competitions.

The MLS has cited ‘schedule congestion’ as their reason, but critics see a sinister motive. They believe the MLS wants to stifle competition and control the narrative around Lionel Messi’s arrival in the United States.

The Open Cup boasts a rich history, pre-dating MLS by over 80 years. The competition welcomes teams from all levels, creating a true David-vs-Goliath spectacle. 

MLS’ withdrawal severs this vital link, leaving a gaping hole in the American soccer landscape.

The timing reeks of opportunism. Just after Messi’s electrifying Open Cup run with Inter Miami, MLS pulled the plug, seemingly intent on monopolising ‘Messi Mania’ for its Leagues Cup, a fledgling tournament created in partnership with Liga MX.

This blatant power play extends beyond Messi. MLS has long belittled the Open Cup, questioning its quality and viewership. 

It’s no coincidence that this withdrawal follows the creation of the Leagues Cup, a self-serving tournament broadcast exclusively on Apple TV+.

Supporters are rightfully enraged. The Independent Supporters Council declared MLS’s decision ‘a disservice to fans and the sport itself’, undermining ‘the inclusive nature of American soccer’. 

Boycotts of the Leagues Cup and petitions demanding an MLS reversal are gaining momentum.

The US Soccer Federation (USSF) must now act. Its Pro League Standards mandate MLS participation in ‘all representative US Soccer competitions’. 

Sending MLS Next Pro teams, a Division III league, to the Open Cup is a clear violation.

This saga exposes MLS’s troubling priorities. Instead of nurturing the entire American soccer ecosystem, it seems fixated on self-aggrandisement and controlling the narrative. 

It will be intriguing to see if the MLS will listen to fans, respect the Open Cup’s legacy and stop monopolising the beautiful game.

More in Lionel Messi