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Bethlehem Steel FC can't play in the U.S. Open Cup

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A new U.S. Soccer Federation bylaw will restrict Bethlehem Steel and other MLS-owned USL franchises from competing in the U.S. Open Cup

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most exciting parts of the U.S. Open Cup are the elimination battles between the Davids and Goliaths of the U.S. Soccer pyramid. Starting in 2016 there will be a few less Davids. A recently approved bylaw will restrict entry into the U.S. Open Cup for any lower division teams that are majority owned by a higher division team. Bethlehem Steel FC is one such club.

This is a shame for a new franchise looking to build a fanbase as the potential for an MLS to visit the stadium or to remotely watch their team take on an MLS "giant" would no doubt build excitement for the club. Last year D.C. United traveled to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds stadium for an Open Cup game, and that became a big deal in Pittsburgh.

The concern appears to be that higher division clubs will water down the lower division roster for their own Cup run. This happened last year when New York Red Bulls 2 lost to Jersey Express 1-0 in an early Open Cup run.

Other MLS owned clubs that will not be able to compete are Portland Timbers 2, Seattle Sounders 2, LA Galaxy 2, Orlando City B, Real Monarchs (Real Salt Lake), Swope Park Rangers (Sporting Kansas City), and New York Red Bulls 2.

It's a shame to see the tournament take a step back this year, as the tournament was building momentum and had grown to over 100 participants. It's also a shame that Bethlehem Steel won't be able to experience the tournament. Hopefully they can rectify the issues and come to a better solution in the coming years.