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Official: U.S. Soccer upholds LAFC’s U.S. Open Cup win over Portland Timbers

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Timbers withdraw protest as USSF proclaims “good faith misunderstanding”

MLS: U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal-Los Angeles FC vs Portland Timbers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It’s official: Los Angeles Football Club will indeed play in the 2018 U.S. Open Cup semifinal.

U.S. Soccer released a statement on Friday confirming the semifinal spot for the expansion team, saying the Portland Timbers, who had filed an official protest to contest LAFC’s 3-2 win on Wednesday over the number of foreign players used in the match, thought to be six in violation of the competition’s regulation of five foreign players, had withdrawn their protest.

Here is the full U.S. Soccer statement on the matter:

Earlier today, the Portland Timbers officially informed the U.S. Open Cup Commissioner it has withdrawn its protest in relation to the number of foreign players fielded by Los Angeles Football Club during Wednesday night’s Quarterfinal match at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif.

Here is a statement from U.S. Soccer on the situation:

“After a thorough review of the Portland Timbers’ official protest, it has been determined that the inclusion of additional foreign players was a result of a good faith misunderstanding among U.S. Soccer, Major League Soccer and Los Angeles Football Club. Each organization involved has agreed to determine an improved process to ensure this will not happen again. In recognition of this fact, the Timbers have gracefully withdrawn their protest.”

Frankly, for a situation that seemed to get more and more absurd with every development, a situation in which LAFC looked like they might be in the wrong about the status of midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye and would likely have to forfeit the match, to a situation in which LAFC claimed they had been given prior approval by U.S. Soccer with Kaye counting as a domestic player (as the Canadian does in MLS), to the Timbers actually withdrawing the protest to end the whole thing, is pretty remarkable.

Honestly, it appeared from the outside to be a case where both teams were right on some level, and U.S. Soccer were perhaps fully culpable for the confusion. The fact that the federation, which runs the U.S. Open Cup, acknowledged changes need to be made is an important step. Too little too late, perhaps, from a Timbers perspective, but hopefully change for the better is implemented ASAP.

And in cases like this, it’s unusual to see a high stakes match — remember, the winner moves to within two wins of lifting one of the trophies on offer in a given season — where there seems to be an impasse and the teams appear to work out a deal at least somewhat amicably. Full credit to the Timbers and LAFC for not going scorched earth on this.

So, it’s official: LAFC are still in the running for the Open Cup, and they will be facing the Houston Dynamo in the semifinal on or around Aug. 8. The final schedule and hosting site will be determined via draw, the date of which will be determined at some point by U.S. Soccer.

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