Update: U.S. Soccer determined the issue was a “good faith misunderstanding” between themselves, MLS and LAFC, and Portland withdrew their protest. LAFC’s win is upheld.
Of the two major stories that emerged from Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup win by Los Angeles Football Club against the Portland Timbers, comes some fascinating developments on one of them courtesy of ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle.
Carlisle tweeted three items related to the Timbers’ official protest of LAFC’s roster, which they claim featured six foreign players, in violation of the Open Cup’s rule of a maximum of five players per matchday roster. Over the course of the day, the scrutiny seems to have focused on one player, LAFC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye, a Canadian who is considered a domestic player by MLS, despite the fact that not all Canadians in fact automatically count as domestic players on American teams’ MLS rosters.
Carlisle noted first that the panel that will ultimately decide the case will meet on Saturday about it:
So we won’t get any resolution of the case before then. I’m honestly not sure if an announcement will be made on Saturday or if the actual discussion will take place only on Saturday and then the committee will just go their separate ways and make a decision at a later date.
Second, according to Carlisle, most remarkably of all, LAFC claims U.S. Soccer approved Kaye’s domestic (and therefore non-foreign) status ahead of time.
2) #LAFC says it specifically asked USSF if Kaye counted as domestic and was told he did. I have a copy of the matchday roster produced by USSF and Kaye is listed as domestic. 3) Yes this is a mess. 2/2— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) July 20, 2018
Here’s the visual proof, per Carlisle:
Here's the copy of the game day roster from the #USOC game between #LAFC and #RCTID which is produced by the USSF. Looks like Kaye is listed as a domestic in far left column. pic.twitter.com/PS9cjM8B6W— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) July 20, 2018
Now, what’s the precedent here? Good question! In cases where teams claim U.S. Soccer approved their roster ahead of time but the result was then contested for a roster violation, recent examples are all over the place!
The Villages’ win over the Charleston Battery was overturned in 2016 because a player on their roster previously played a USOC qualifier in the same cycle for a different team. Even though The Villages claimed U.S. Soccer approved their roster ahead of time, U.S. Soccer ruled the mistake was the team’s fault, ultimately, and they had to forfeit.
Reminds me of The Villages a couple years back. Club had their roster approved by USSF and then had their win over a USL team overturned for an ineligible player anyway. Gotta think LAFC has a bit more clout than The Villages though.— The Mane Land (@TheManeLand) July 20, 2018
But TheCup.us, the definitive independent outlet that covers the U.S. Open Cup, said in 2013 a similar dispute in a qualifying round ended up being decided by replaying the fixture completely.
Flashback to 2013 ... a similar situation during #USOC2013 qualifying where the team submitted their roster and it was approved (with an ineligible player) ... the decision that was made was to replay the game. https://t.co/vysWqHzS42— TheCup.us (@usopencup) July 20, 2018
So yeah, who knows what on earth will be happening here. Again, all signs point to Kaye being the player whose status the entire case hinges on, and considering this is such an unusual situation there isn’t much precedent and where there is, it’s contradictory. That the dispute occurs between two top-flight teams over a quarterfinal round game only ratchets up the pressure for all parties involved, as this isn’t the kind of situation that comes along all the time.
And finally, there’s been a lot of takes on social media on all sides on Thursday, and understandably so, especially considering how confusing it’s all been. Overall, we’re just going to have to sit tight for statements to be released and the eventual decision to be made. But it seems safe to say that a situation where one team claims their roster was approved by the proper authorities ahead of time and the other team claims a roster violation took place, and they could conceivably both be right? Safe to say some changes need to be made in the procedures and how they are carried out for the Open Cup.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!