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Bethlehem Steel officially ineligible to play in USOC

The Philadelphia Union's USL side is unable to play in the United States Open Cup per new rules.

Bethlehem Steel will never win another one of these now.
Bethlehem Steel will never win another one of these now.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

In a move that makes sense (but probably could have been handled better), Bethlehem Steel FC are one of eight USL clubs that cannot compete in the US Open Cup moving forward. The rule is that if a MLS side owns a USL or NASL club, that club can no longer compete in the US Open Cup. Maybe it's to avoid potential conflict of interests between parent club and affiliate, maybe it's so there's not 16 USL clubs in the quarterfinals. However, isn't it a bit unfair for the players? Luckily there doesn't appear to be any favoritism here.

Alongside Bethlehem Steel, seven other USL clubs owned by MLS sides cannot compete. Real Salt Lake, LA GalaxySporting Kansas City, Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, Orlando City and New York Red Bulls also have had their USL sides declared ineligible to compete. In the interest of keeping the Open Cup a fair contest this sort of makes sense. However, barring eight teams from an "open cup" seems to defeat some of the purpose of the tournament that has given us some pretty crazy runs by lower level teams over the years. Notably the Richmond Kickers won the Open Cup in 1995 followed by a Rochester Rhinos USOC win in 1999 with both teams playing in the USL at the time. Hopefully there is another way around this understandable problem, but until then the Open Cup Commissioner has brought the hammer down on eight clubs.