Reading United has declined what would have been their 12th straight U.S. Open Cup appearance, citing the difficulties of the new schedule unveiled by U.S. Soccer last week.
The USL League Two club, which finished runners up in each of the last two seasons, issued a statement on Tuesday announcing the decision. Where the tournament previously began in May, the 2020 edition begins in late March when most active college players are not available.
“This abhorrent scheduling decision forces the top USL League Two and NPSL teams, who afford an Open Cup playing opportunity to NCAA and U23 players in the USA, to completely modify how they structure a team, or worse, forces them to relinquish their deserved spot to a lower ranked team,” the statement signed by club president Troy Snyder and vice president Arthur Auchenbach III reads.
“The lack of consideration for such a large player pool is astonishing,” the statement adds. “We are very concerned this is another example of the public perception of the ‘tone deafness’ that exists within US Soccer. We truly do not understand why US Soccer would essentially eliminate the playing opportunity for what is truly the best soccer player pool, outside of the professional ranks, in the United States.”
According to NCAA rules, college players are not permitted to participate in outside competition before May 1 with one exception being during their college’s spring break.
“Historically, the success of those amateur soccer teams who have enjoyed the most success in ‘David vs. Goliath’ situations of the U.S. Open Cup have been those teams who are comprised of the top college talent,” the statement reads. “US Soccer’s scheduling decision ELIMINATES this opportunity for ANY NCAA soccer athlete.”