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How Will The U.S. Open Cup Rules Affect The Union?

We take a look at the rules and what effect they will have on the Union as they look to lift their first trophy.

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

With the 101st iteration of the U.S. Open Cup underway, we thought it might be good to take a look at some of the rules in place for the tournament.

Last year, the Union beat the Harrisburg City Islanders in the Fourth Round of the tournament. There was a bit of controversy as the Union didn't allow any of the players they had sent on loan to play against the club. This won't be an issue this year, as both the rules regarding playing affiliates and playing loan players have changed. First, the only round that can possibly feature a club playing its lower division affiliate will be the Final. Other than that, the tournament will prevent the affiliates and parent clubs playing one another.

Also, loaned players can't play against their original club unless that player is on a loan more than 90 days long from another US club. So if the Union wind up playing against the Colorado Rapids, it's conceivable that Zac MacMath could play against the Union since he's on loan for more than 90 days. But if the Union were to play against the Carolina Railhawks, Dzenan Catic would not be eligible since his loan is less than 90 days (and his team of origin is participating in the tournament). There's also a rule that says if a player plays in any part of a U.S. Open Cup match for a team, he's tied to that team for that year. So if Catic plays for the Railhawks, for instance, he wouldn't be allowed to play for the Union when he returns from his loan.

It's also worth noting that suspensions carry over from previous tournaments for as long as ten years. This means that for instance the red cards issued to New York Cosmos' Alecko Eskandarian and Carlos Llamosa for the fracas at the end of last season's match between the Cosmos and Union will carry over into this tournament.

It appears as though the U.S. Open Cup will be played on natural grass. This would appear to put teams like the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, New England Revolution, and others at a disadvantage. That being said, there is a disclaimer that allows the Cup Commissioner to waive or modify the requirements for "good cause." That can be read as possibly allowing a lower-division team who has a turf field to host a match if there's no alternative, however it's entirely possible this could be used to allow these teams to host a match on the turf. We'll see though.