NPSL Mid-Atlantic Conference adds matches to end of regular season to try to make 4 of 5 teams 2020 US Open Cup eligible

Posted by | June 25, 2019
A scene from the first half of the First Round match between West Chester United and FC Baltimore Christos in the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: @finchamphoto

A scene from the first half of the First Round match between West Chester United and FC Baltimore Christos in the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: @finchamphoto

UPDATE: This plan has been scrapped. A single game playoff championship will be held on July 6. All teams from the NPSL Mid-Atlantic Conference will not be eligible for the 2020 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.

Back in May, we reported that the schedule for the NPSL Mid-Atlantic Conference was too short for all five teams in the conference to be 2020 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup eligible. The rules state they must have at least a 10-game regular season. At the time, the NPSL Mid-Atlantic Conference only had an 8-game regular season scheduled. Should they add games to the schedule, those teams that met the 10-match minimum would be eligible for the 2020 US Open Cup.

Originally, a three-team postseason playoff was planned for July 3 and July 6 to decide the conference champion. Instead, the regular season will be extended and the regular season champion will move on to the NPSL Northeast Region playoffs scheduled to start on July 13. Four matches will be played overall, two on July 3 and two on July 6. At the end of the double round robin schedule on June 29, the standings will decide the schedule for the remaining games next week.

The schedule for the extra games:

DATE AWAY TEAM RESULT HOME TEAM
July 3 4th place vs. 1st place
July 3 3rd place vs. 2nd place
July 6 3rd place vs. 1st place
July 6 4th place vs. 2nd place

This will give the top 4 teams all a 10-game regular season schedule. The last place team of the five team conference will NOT have extra games added and will still be ineligible for the 2020 U.S. Open Cup. The current standings of the conference are:

There is no rule against teams having more home games than away games in their schedule. There is also no rule against teams in the conference having more games played than other teams in the conference. As long as these matches next week are still considered regular season matches and they are applied to the standings, it will count.

Some might argue that the additional games essentially amount to a playoff since the participants of these additional games were chosen based on their division standings with only the top four teams in the division involved.

This schedule change, however, does not guarantee that it will make the Mid-Atlantic teams eligible. The US Open Cup committee will have final say as to whether or not the additional games are considered regular season games or not. The US Open Cup handbook states:

Section 202. Team eligibility
(a) To enter the Open Cup, a team must be an outdoor soccer team based in the United States and a regular playing member in good standing competing in an ongoing league competition of an Organization Member of the Federation, with said league competition and Organization Member also in good standing with the Federation. Such league competition must be regularly scheduled (i.e. not infrequent) each year and formatted such that member teams play games against fellow members, with only these results (i.e. league matches) used to determine a set of standings or ranking table. The league competition must consist of at least four (4) teams, with each playing at least ten (10) league matches (excluding any pre-season and/or post-season playoff or cup matches) each calendar year.

With the fifth place team ineligible for the 2020 US Open Cup, the NPSL will only have to pay the entry fee of 90 teams in the league out of the 91 teams. This will slightly change how the allocation of spots for the 2020 U.S. Open Cup goes.

Although the number of spots allocated in still to be determined, that number of spots will be allocated to USL League Two and NPSL combined. USL League Two has 67 eligible teams while NPSL has 90 teams. This means that NPSL will get 57.3% (90 divided by 157) of those yet-to-be-determined spots, and USL League Two will get 42.7% (67 divided by 157) of those entries.

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