Update: I should give the Timbers credit here, because they actually withdrew their protest on Friday, and U.S. Soccer upheld LAFC’s win.
The latest twist in the increasingly absurd saga that is the Portland Timbers’ official protest of Los Angeles Football Club’s 3-2 win in the 2018 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal on Wednesday comes from Portland, where Timbers head coach spoke to media on Friday about the situation.
If you haven’t been following along, here’s what happened: The Timbers claim LAFC played more than the allotted five foreign players per the U.S. Open Cup rules, and subsequent internet sleuthing seems to confirm the dispute is that LAFC played six foreign players, with Mark-Anthony Kaye’s situation being the one at the center of this. Kaye is Canadian, he counts as a domestic player on LAFC’s MLS roster (not all Canadians get that status, it is not automatic) but he presumably does not hold U.S. residency status and so should be classified as a foreign player for the Open Cup.
LAFC countered after the protest was filed on Thursday that U.S. Soccer, the body that governs and runs the Open Cup, approved Kaye’s domestic status ahead of time. So maybe the Timbers were right, but LAFC were also led to believe they were in the clear?
That was the latest before Savarese’s comments to the media, which are pretty fascinating. The gist? The Timbers didn’t want to overturn their loss with the protest, they were just asking questions about the rules.
Say what now?
What was that?
Some clarification from Richard Farley, who works for the Timbers:
From those within the club, this - as well as how the rule will be enforced going forward - is part of the reason why the inquiry was made. But also according to people here, answering a direct question on it, there was no request to have the result overturned, set aside, etc. https://t.co/g12x02a3WP— Richard Farley (@richardfarley) July 20, 2018
I have to admit, this looks hilarious. If you’re going to file a protest, why not just own it? You know the logical scenario at play is that a forfeit is in the cards, teams don’t just take moral wins by lodging protests where they might also just happen to result in a forfeit, we swear that wasn’t our intention, honest.
I will say on a serious note, I agree that the rules are a mess and there clearly needs to be better regulations, first and foremost, and more explicit procedures for enforcing the rules. The Open Cup often feels very ad hoc, and while I think we should commend U.S. Soccer for putting more time and effort into running the Open Cup in the past few years, work is still left to be done, especially in this vital matter.
But either Savarese personally doesn’t really want to advance by forfeit and just wants to move on, or there is some weird “Hey, we’re just asking questions!” line of thought happening with the team, and if you really didn’t want to ask for the game to be overturned, maybe just pull aside the person(s) who decides these eligibility calls at the next U.S. Soccer event? I don’t begrudge the Timbers for filing a protest but these latest comments suggest a backtracking, intentional or not, and this saga just keeps getting more strange.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!