The USASA Region I semifinals have been altered after the region determined the Screaming Eagles, the Maryland champions, have been disqualified for using multiple players that were not cleared by the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). As a result, the Eagles 1-0 quarterfinal victory on April 7 over the Aegean Hawks has been overturned and the Hawks will now move on to the semifinals.
The Hawks will travel north to New Jersey to take on Garden State champions Icon FC in a “Win & You’re In” match on April 21. Time and location is still to be determined.
TheCup.us has learned that nine players listed on the Eagles’ gameday roster did not have their international clearance paperwork appoved by the USSF and despite the team being notified prior to the game that those players were not cleared, they were listed on the 18-man roster anyway.
Efforts to contact the Screaming Eagles by email have not yet been returned.
In the week leading up to the match, Hawks manager Jonathan Knight was aware that the Eagles were having difficulties getting players registered, but chose not to protest the result. Instead, as he put it, he allowed the organizers of the tournament to handle the issue.
“While we are obviously pleased that we have the opportunity to continue our run in the 100th edition of the US Open Cup, we are saddened that it has come about with the disqualification of our opponent,” said Knight after learning of the decision. “The Screaming Eagles were a worthy opponent that showcased athleticism and technical ability beyond their years. The fact that they edged us on April 7 is a testament to the fact that they have a quality side.”
When an amateur team takes part in the US Open Cup, each player must be properly registered with the USSF. For players born outside of the United States or who have played professionally in the past, there is additional paperwork that must be submitted.
“The bottom line is the US Open Cup has player eligibility rules that can be quite onerous, particularly from teams comprised of players born overseas,” said Knight. “Over the years we have had countless players ineligible to participate based on these clearance rules, and have always refrained from playing those players until such time as they are cleared.”
When the Hawks take on Icon FC, who defeated West Chester United 4-2 in their quarterfinal match back on April 7, they will be aiming for their second straight Open Cup berth, and the fourth in the last seven years.