US Open Cup Committee minutes: Foreign player limit gone; canceled 2020 plans

Posted by | February 6, 2021

The Soccer House in Chicago, the headquarters for the US Soccer Federation.

In 2020, United States Soccer Federation Policy 414-1 Section 4 was amended to state that all meeting minutes of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup committee shall be posted to the USSF website after approval of the committee. US Soccer has recently started to post minutes from the past year of these committee meetings, with all minutes available to view here. Most of the meetings in 2020 had been about the COVID-19 pandemic, but recently the committee has started planning for the 2021 US Open Cup, making a decision on one key policy change.

As the USSF policy amendment was approved at the 2020 US Soccer AGM, all meeting minutes from March 2020 and on will be posted on the website.

March 13, 2020 meeting

Just as all professional sports leagues were shutting down for the COVID-19 pandemic, so too did the Open Cup. In a 15-minute conference call, the committee voted to temporarily suspend the 2020 US Open Cup and with plans to reconvene once decisions on next steps are either required or advantageous to take.

May 25, 2020 meeting

In a meeting that was entirely conducted over email over a period of about two weeks, the committee approved a staff recommended, scaled down US Open Cup for 2020.

1. Tournament will be no more than five rounds involving no more than 32 teams (thus eliminating the first three rounds originally planned)
2. Earliest the tournament would restart is Sept. 22-23 (dates originally held for the Final)
3. At least one slot in the tournament will be reserved for a team from the Open Division with the team(s) determined via random draw from among those 38 qualified clubs who wish to and are able to participate in the Fall
4. Only those teams from the 100 originally qualified are eligible to participate

This measure was approved by four out of the five committee members, with the remaining member, Todd Durbin of MLS, not voting.

MORE:’s proposal to salvage the 2020 US Open Cup

July 31, 2020 meeting

In another meeting over email, the committee unanimously decided to
1. Cancel the 2020 tournament
2. Cancel the 2021 Open Division qualifying tournament
3. Conduct the 2021 tournament as normal, with those Open Division clubs who qualified for 2020 included in the 2021 competition
4. Have U.S. Soccer announce these decisions at the earliest opportunity.

In regard to No. 4, US Soccer would announce these decisions on Aug. 17, 2020.

December 15, 2020 meeting

This meeting was the first one to start planning for the 2021 US Open Cup. One major item was discussed and voted upon.

The committee voted unanimously to change Policy Section 203(a) and eliminate the pro team foreign-player limit for Open Cup competition.

The following part from Open Cup Section 203(a) was removed.

Professional teams may have no more than 5 foreign players listed. Amateur teams are not restricted as to the number of foreign players they may list. Foreign players shall be those players who are not protected individuals as defined in 8 U.S.C. § 1324b. (e.g., U.S. Citizens, lawful permanent residents, asylees and refugees). Any conflicting Outdoor Professional League roster rules shall not apply to the number of foreign players allowed to compete in the Open Cup.

Of note, this does not invalidate or override any roster rules set forth by the professional leagues themselves. Foreign player roster rules for each league are listed below.

Eight player slots per team, and those slots can be traded intraleague in full season increments (with two permanent roster slot trades grandfathered in). All expansion teams receive 8 slots at the start. Homegrown foreign players do not take up a slot.

USL Championship:
Seven player slots per team. Those slots can be traded intraleague and expire at the end of the season. All teams start each league year with 7 player slots.

USL League One:
Seven player slots per team. No trades allowed.

Seven player slots per team. No trades allowed.

Finally, the committee “engaged in an open-ended discussion regarding scheduling and format matters relating to the 2021 Open Cup. No decisions were made.”

The conference call lasted approximately 45 minutes total.

January 5, 2021 meeting

No matters were decided upon in this meeting. In a one hour and 20-minute conference call, the committee had another open-ended discussion regarding scheduling and format matters relating to the 2021 Open Cup with no decisions made.

There was another Open Cup committee meeting on Jan. 12, 2021, but those meeting minutes have not been approved by the committee and posted yet. The most recent minutes approval was on Feb. 2, 2021 where the Jan. 5, 2021 meeting minutes were approved.

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