2015 U.S. Open Cup needs an upgrade. It’s time to take this 100-year-old tournament and give it its proper respect.
Changes to the 2015 U.S. Open Cup were announced on Wednesday February 4, but I think they forgot one big change; the money. This year a record 91 teams will compete for the 102nd Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup starting in April and finishing with the championship game in late September. On the line is $325,000 in prize money, their name engraved on the Dewar Challenge Trophy and a berth in the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League.
More from MLS
- Coming to America – a game-changer by the name of Lionel Messi
- Lionel Messi set to join MLS side Inter Miami
- Canadian MLS clubs split points in Matchweek 5
- Herrera aims to erase memories of injury-prone debut season
- Matchday 4 Canadian MLS recap
The winner will walk away with $250,000 and a berth in the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions’ League and have its name engraved on the Dewar Challenge Trophy, one of the oldest nationally contested trophies in American team sports. The runner-up will take home $60,000, while the team that advances the furthest from each lower division will earn a $15,000 cash prize.
I can’t believe with USSF bringing in all sorts of new revenue streams, that this year’s version has the same payout in prize money. The last World Cup saw fans everywhere donning USMNT jerseys as they participated in outdoor viewing parties to the likes of which we’ve never seen here for soccer. Bars across the country were packed with new fans and people noticed. Now is the time to spend some of this new-found wealth. MLS and the USMNT just signed a record media rights deal that goes into effect this year and runs till 2022. Although it hasn’t been announced what the breakdown was, you can be sure the USSF is getting paid more for this cycle of the contract than it ever has.
The U.S. Open Cup is run by the USSF and I hate to say it, but they don’t do much to promote it. Now is the time for the USSF to build the fan base and expose them to all the lower divisions that are involved with the sport here in the USA. Sadly I just don’t think they know how and are now asking the fans themselves. In fact they have this poll on their site that asks how they can improve the Cup. If you hit vote, it will take you to the page and the poll is at the bottom.
What should be the top priority to improve the US Open Cup?
- Other (1%, 23 Votes)
- Format consistency (3%, 48 Votes)
- Scheduling consistency (3%, 41 Votes)
- More prize money (5%, 80 Votes)
- Radio/TV availability (47%, 739 Votes)
- Fan awareness (marketing) (38%, 604 Votes)
- Quality on the field (3%, 54 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,589
To me this is a very sad poll for an organization to have out for a tournament that has been around for over 100 years. You would think by now they could figure out how to promote it. Sadly it gets hardly any mention anywhere, until the later rounds when the pro teams start to enter into the tournament.
I think it wouldn’t be too hard to give this tournament a little upgrade. First is prize money and let’s face it $325,000 for a field of 91 teams is peanuts. I think the USSF could very easily bump that up to $2,000,000. With the winner walking away with $1,250,000 and the runner-up getting $500,000. I would take the $50,000 and give that to the team that advances the furthest from the lower division. With the remaining $200,000 I would give $10,000 to every team that got out of round one and into round two. This is where the money could do the most good. Teams from divisions below USL Pro could use the money the most and this is a good way to reward them.
Second fans should have some way to view the games. In the early rounds USSF should have a few games shown on YouTube or their own website. It would be a good way to promote soccer and have fans learn about lover division teams. With ten teams winning prize money, it might turn into a spectacle as teams win games to advance into the second round. After that round, they should get as many games up on YouTube as they can until the later rounds. The final this year will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 or Fox Sports 2, with a possibility of more games possible as they move over from GolTV.
The last thing is this should really be marketed much better than it is. Seattle last year won the Cup and the Supporters’ Shield and talked about trying to be the first team to accomplish the treble, as they tried to add the MLS Cup. Many teams in NASL are trying to win as they want to prove they are just as good as MLS and want the coveted CONCACAF birth that goes to the winner. Also it would be great to find a sponsor and go out and promote games in the cities the teams are from. With more teams participating than ever before, I just think it’s time to give this great tournament an upgrade.