In a development that would’ve been totally unexpected even two weeks ago, The Miami FC Open Cup possibilities are still alive. The Miami FC 2 has been granted admission into the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. New York Cosmos B and Jacksonville Armada has also been granted admission.
In a statement, the Open Cup Committee said:
“The Committee carefully considered the teams’ exceptional situation which involved all three moving from Professional Division II status in 2017 to solely Open Division league participation earlier this year. Since the move occurred after the Open Division league’s 2018 Open Cup entry deadline in mid-2017, the Committee decided to allow the three teams the opportunity to compete in the 2018 edition of the U.S. Open Cup.”
The teams will have until 4 p.m. on April 2 to confirm that they are participating. Once they have been confirmed, the three teams will enter the competition via a “Play-In Round” scheduled for the weekend of May 5-6. The winners of the play-in round will advance to the First Round of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on May 9.
It would appear the solution is similar to the “First Round” the NCAA uses for its men’s basketball tournament, where some teams who make the tournament need to actually qualify to reach the Round of 64.
The teams that the three new invitees will play will be one team drawn from the NPSL and two from the Premier Development League (PDL) who have already qualified for the competition. Per the federation’s release, the teams drawn will be “in close geographical proximity”. The teams drawn to play will be given first option to host games.
Based on the criteria laid out in the statement, the two teams most likely to play Miami FC 2 would be NPSL rival Miami United FC or FC Miami City of the Premier Development League. That means the play-in game could be at Ted Hendricks Stadium (Miami United’s home venue) or Tropical Park (FC Miami City’s home venue). An alternate location could be worked out as well.
“It’s exciting. We were hoping for that,” Miami FC 2 centerback Mason Trafford said after his team’s preseason game on April 8. “It’s a chance for us to show what we can do on a bigger stage and it was a lot of fun for us last year, obviously, making that run to the quarterfinals. We want to do something similar again this year.”
Left in the cold
Both Miami FC and New York Cosmos were part of the North American Soccer League in 2017. Because the NASL was Division 2 soccer, both clubs received automatic qualification into the tournament. Because the NASL was not sanctioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation for the 2018 season, both clubs appeared to be left out in the cold.
This is a breaking story that will be updated as events develop.