U.S. Soccer announced on Friday that LA Wolves FC had indeed filed an official protest following their 2-1 first round 2016 U.S. Open Cup loss on Wednesday to the Ventura County Fusion, and that they would uphold the protest, disqualifying the Fusion and reinstating the Wolves in the competition.
The Wolves argued that Ventura County fielded an ineligible player, Gabriel Gonzalez, who played in Cal FC's 2016 USOC qualifiers last year, and is therefore cup-tied in the competition. U.S. Soccer agreed, saying in their statement:
Gonzalez's inclusion on the Ventura County Fusion roster violated Section 203(c) of the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Handbook which states, "Any player who plays in any part of an Open Cup match for a team, including any match in any Open Division qualifying round, may not be included in the Open Cup roster or play for any other team in the Open Cup competition for that competition year."
But the Fusion say they will fight the ruling.
A spokesperson for the Ventura County Fusion told The Goat Parade on Friday following the announcement, "VC Fusion will appeal this morning's U.S. Soccer ruling. All of our players were cleared and eligible to play the match against LA Wolves by U.S. Soccer, including Mr. Gabriel Gonzalez."
The disqualification of the Fusion and reinstatement of LA Wolves means the latter club, in the Open Cup for the first time this year, are now set to face the Orange County Blues in the second round of the tournament on Wednesday. The location of that game has yet to be announced.
We will keep you posted on the story, which sounds like it might be ongoing.
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