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U.S. Soccer makes stunning move and denies MLS’ request to use reserve teams in U.S. Open Cup

Major League Soccer's (MLS) request to send their reserve teams to participate in the U.S. Open Cup, the country's oldest tournament, was denied by U.S. Soccer on Wednesday.

MLS clubs voted to send teams from MLS Next Pro, a lower division developmental league formed two years ago comprising of their reserve players, as the U.S. Open Cup was not a priority and because they wanted to reduce fixture congestion.

Founded in 1914, the U.S. Open Cup features professional and amateur teams but MLS commissioner Don Garber had criticised the knockout tournament, saying it was a "very poor reflection" of what they were trying to achieve in the sport.

"Major League Soccer has requested to allow MLS Next PRO teams to represent MLS in the 2024 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup," U.S. Soccer said in a statement.

"After thoughtful consideration, we have informed MLS that the U.S. Soccer staff recommendation, which was adopted by the Pro League Taskforce, is that the request be denied."

U.S. Soccer denies MLS

The tournament does not have all its games broadcast while Garber said some games are played on poor pitches that are not up to professional standards.

"As we move forward, we will continue our review of the Open Cup to ensure it aligns with the U.S. Soccer strategic pillars," U.S. Soccer added.

"We remain committed to addressing the needs and concerns of all of our members, including MLS, and other stakeholders to enhance and improve the U.S. Open Cup."

MLS had said on Saturday that the move to not send their first teams would free up six midweek match dates, but that they remain "committed to working with U.S. Soccer to evolve and elevate the Open Cup".

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru;Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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