Miami FC Responds To 2018 U.S. Open Cup Snub

Mar 14, 2018

MIAMI (March 14, 2018) – After a sensational run to the Quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2017, The Miami FC was officially denied the opportunity to participate in the 2018 U.S. Open Cup, receiving word from the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) yesterday. 

The memorable journey for the Miami FC through the 2017 tournament, which included early-round victories over the South Florida Surf, Tampa Bay Rowdies and Orlando City SC, introduced the nation to the talented second-year club from Miami.  The highlight of the U.S. Open Cup run came at home on June 28th, in front of a crowd of 9,004 raucous fans at Riccardo Silva Stadium, as Miami FC scored the biggest “cupset” of the tournament and defeated Atlanta United from MLS, 3-2 with an unforgettable goal in the 93rd minute by Kwadwo Poku. 

The 104th edition of the tournament that began with 99 teams and annually crowns the best soccer club in the United States, suddenly saw Miami FC as one of the final six participants.  The Miami FC then hosted FC Cincinnati in the Quarterfinals, eventually losing a defensive battle, 1-0. 

Other remaining NASL clubs were also denied entry to the 2018 U.S. Open Cup, including the New York Cosmos and Jacksonville Armada, despite each having teams entering the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) in 2018.  The NPSL also receives automatic entries into the U.S. Open Cup based on sporting merit (results from the previous season) when the Miami FC 2 did not yet exist.  The Miami FC’s exclusion for the 2018 U.S. Open Cup is only the latest blow to the club and fellow NASL clubs from the USSF. 

On September 1, 2017, the USSF's Board of Directors announced a decision to revoke the North American Soccer League’s (NASL) Division II status, jeopardizing the future of the league and its member clubs.  The NASL then filed an antitrust suit in Federal Court seeking a preliminary injunction to preserve the NASL's Division II status while the court considers the underlying claims.  On November 4, the District Court denied the NASL's motion for a preliminary injunction and on February 23, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision.  On February 27, the NASL announced that it had canceled the 2018 season after failing to receive the injunction preventing the USSF from revoking the NASL's Division II status.  

“It is a sad and troubling day for The Miami FC and its fans,” said Miami CEO Sean Flynn.  “The notion that the USSF would deny this club and other NASL clubs re-entry to the historic U.S. Open Cup is maddening and inexcusable.  The USSF’s efforts to essentially relegate a league into extinction, and then deny those remaining clubs the opportunity to compete in this tournament, clearly shows that the system is broken and is operating outside of FIFA’s rules. Our path to ultimately compete in FIFA’s Club World Cup is now blocked by our own federation, a path that professional clubs in every other FIFA member country around the globe has access to.”

Flynn continued, “While the USSF rewards success through sporting merit to NPSL teams by granting entry into the Open Cup based on the previous year’s performance on the pitch, it continues to ignore the FIFA rule requiring Promotion and Relegation based on sporting merit in league competition. Lower division professional clubs like ours are not rewarded for accomplishments on the field from the previous year.  In this case they are omitted without cause or rationale, and unfortunately this affects our fans and supporters in Miami, and it affects the players who made the magical run in the tournament last season a reality.  It’s a disgrace that they have been denied the opportunity to finish what they started, and it is truly disappointing that a federation would actively suppress the efforts of a club like Miami FC, fully embraced by its community.”

Even after a season in the North American Soccer League that saw the Miami FC win the Spring and Fall Season Championships and set most player and team modern day NASL records, many local soccer fans point to the 2017 U.S. Open Cup as the single greatest achievement in the young history of the club.

The Miami FC 2 begins play this Sunday, March 18th with a preseason match against Weston FC at St. Thomas University.  The match is open to the public and admission is free.  The regular season home opener for Miami FC 2 is Saturday, April 21st versus Miami United FC at St. Thomas University, with kickoff set for 7:00 PM.  Tickets are $10 for adults and all kids 12 and under are free.  Tickets can be purchased at MiamiFC.com.