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Red Bulls coach Backe unhappy with U.S. Soccer’s Open Cup scheduling

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New York Red Bulls Head Coach Hans Backe is ready to take the US Open Cup seriously; that has been the message since before the start of the season. Now, all he wants is for US Soccer to do the same.

Last year’s disappointing 4-0 U.S. Open Cup loss to the Chicago Fire, which featured almost an entire reserve side and saw Backe skip the match, caused a backlash that has made this year’s tournament a focal point of the season.  With pressure to succeed upon his shoulders, the USSF aren’t making things any easier for the Red Bulls from Backe’s point of view.

“The disappointment is U.S. Soccer,” Backe said.  “Someone has to tell U.S. Soccer, if you want to take this serious, then don’t play on FIFA days.   It’s simple as that. Then you have your whole roster available.”

“We are losing five guys because of that, five starters, so that is the problem.”

The New York Red Bulls will be without starters Rafa Marquez, Dane Richards, Joel Lindpere and Roy Miller.  Victor Palsson, who was called up by Iceland, will be leaving to join his National side after the U.S. Open Cup match against the Charleston Battery this Tuesday.

To compound on these key losses, Thierry Henry may not make the trip either. 

“No, probably not,” Backe said.  “I haven’t decided but if he is not 100%, he will stay home.”  The Red Bulls captain, who played the full 90 against Chivas USA this past Wednesday, is still recovering from a hamstring injury.

Even though the losses are great, Backe feels he has enough players to keep the games competitive. “It’s four guys out, five with Teeemu Tainio for internationals.  We will have a very decent first eleven starting, definitely,” he said. 

Compensating for the loss of Henry may be the team’s greatest obstacle.  Still, the coach feels he has a deep enough roster to ease his loss.  “We have different options, but I will not single out anyone who can play up top with Kenny (Cooper), but we have options.”

On a positive note, Jan Gunnar Solli, Wilman Conde and Stephen Keel, all players who have been fighting back from injury, participated in full training this weekend, and look ready to rejoin the club.

“(Solli) did well today, seems to be fully fit so he will be involved, definitely available,” Backe revealed.  “(Keel), also available. He did a session two days ago as well, but he will be definitely in the roster too.  (Conde) will need his minutes so he will play.”

Even with that bit of good news to boost the club, Backe can’t help but lament the position he is in thanks to the scheduling of U.S. Soccer’s governing body.

“We will definitely take it serious; we want to win the Open Cup,” he said.  “But of course, if you are five, six starters out, everyone has to learn and no roster in the world can handle that.  It’s not American football that has 60 players, perhaps 40 on the same level.”


  1. The USOC is a great tournament with great history, to those that know of the history and significance.

    The problem, it seems to me, with the USOC, is that the rest of the soccer population have very little knowledge of the event. There is little to no promotion/marketing of the event and the scheduling/media coverage is a disaster. All I’ve ever learned about the tourney is through playing as an amateur and online news outlets like SBI. And I bleed US soccer. What about the people just getting into it by watching euro soccer, international soccer and, hopefully, MLS? You can’t even watch the games on TV!

    If there is money and promotion to back the USOC, it would be one of the best sports tournaments around. Right now though, there doesn’t seem to be any and that’s a shame.

  2. how can anyone complain about the USOC?! this would be a great tourny if it was taken seriously on all levels, not just the lower division clubs.

    as for his point, yes, we should not have any games on FIFA dates. i don’t care what the game is for.

  3. They should lose the MLS playoffs and turn the US Open Cup into a postseason cup tournament for all the leagues in the US.

  4. I don’t get people complaining about this tournament. If you don’t care, fine–don’t go to the games. If your team doesn’t care, great–they can send reserves. You and your hack team don’t have my sympathy.

    But if you do care–maybe if you’re a USL team promoted to MLS and you remember being the underdog–by all means send the best team you can. Let the old USL guys still on the team who fought for this cup as their greatest chance for glory teach the young ‘uns how important it is. Reflect on 99 years of history and how vital authenticity is to a league as young as ours. Recall that this cup is the shortest path to the CONCACAF Champions League and a chance for the ultimate prize of the Club World Cup.

    The U.S. Open Cup is special. There’s nothing like it in America. The Seattle Sounders want it. They want it bad. Come try to take it from us.

  5. My biggest complaint with the whole thing is that the final is usually on a Wednesday night at 7PM. If this is important then, please treat it like it is an put the final on a weekend night on a channel with more than ten viewers. Historical or not, essential or not, MLS or not, if it’s important enough it needs to be treated like it’s important instead of an afterthought.

  6. Not for nothing but i agree with backe whole heartedly when it comes to the us open cup, what a aste of time! This tournement is horrendous and i for one couldn’t care less if rbny win this cup or not, and i am a huge rbny fan. Please no injuries!

  7. I disagree. It’s an historical tournament and completely different from anything else in America. We’ll never see NBA, MLB or NFL teams playing lower division teams in their respective sports. The USOC sets soccer apart from the Big 4 and shares a common lineage/pedigree with other footballing nations.

    If US Soccer actually made an effort to promote the tournament (TV coverage, local advertising, coordination with MLS teams to promote the tourney, etc), then it’d gain some gravitas and fans would pay attention.

  8. Your rush to dismiss this tourney so readily because it fills up the schedule puzzles me. First, why wouldn’t you want to see your team involved in more competitive fixtures.

    Second, it shows that you have probably never played the sport at a competitive level or looked into this history of the game in our country.

    I played in the early rounds of the Open Cup for my amateur club team when I was in my 20s (pre-MLS) and it had meaning for us because of what it represented, the roots of the game.

    No, it is not important because England has the FA cup, it is however, important for the same reason that the FA Cup is important to English fans though, the history.

    For just as the FA cup predates the Premier League, the US Open Cup predates the MLS and NASL. Without Bethlehem Steel and Fall River Marksmen where would US soccer be, it was the creation of the American Cup competition that revived our national team in the early 20th century. Perhaps in your mind the MLS season is more important than that as well.

    I am not going to try and change your mind or that of any team (ie: 2011 Red Bulls) who want to focus elsewhere. But to discount the importance of the tourney is a shame and needed to be addressed in my mind.

  9. The US open cup is a worthless tournament. Nobody really except Sunil cares for it. It has no visibility or exposure. More people watched a single superliga game than the whole history of US open cup. MLS teams do the right thing by simply sending reserves. Heck they should just grab people off the street, give them a bus ticket, a t-shirt, and $100 bucks.

  10. If it was anyone else talking I would listen but its Hans Backe, an old European hag that even criticizes a sunny day in mid winter. Hans two words for you, that’s why you develop players and build two squads at least to play multiple tournaments. As for those that criticize this tournament, Jesus its for criticism like this that the US is and will continue to be a 30 something ranked ‘soccer’ nation.

  11. Ohhhhh ya bro since England has a FA cup we have to have one too right? I forgot a pointless midseason tournament against amateur teams is so exciting. F*ck the playoffs this is the greatest thing on earth

  12. And, it’s by far the oldest soccer competition in the US, around for – forever.

    Now with MLS and other competitions with CONACAF against Mexican and Latin American squads, it’s fallen down the prestige/pecking order. But no way should we get rid of it.

  13. RBNY during the 5-game winning streak were also missing a lot of people. The drop-off isn’t that great, especially for Marguez and Miller.

    The Battery is dead!

  14. Too bad, so sad…Stop recruiting players good enough for their respective National teams; problem solved ! 🙂

    I agree none of the MLS clubs should have to play on FIFA dates (whether they be league games, USOpen cup, whatever).

  15. Dude, its our version of the FA cup and similar cups around the world. You are a moron for even suggesting such a proposition. The USOC needs some revisions to help it gain more prestige, but dumping it is a ridiculous idea.

    USSF simply needs to move some dates and not allow teams to buy hosting rights from one another, that will go a long way towards gaining a new level of respect.

  16. I am getting tired of Backe’s excuses. Hans, it is better if you had the whole roster available, of course. However, all of the MLS teams are losing players, like the nyrb (some more, some fewer), due to the international dates. So, the New York Red Bulls are in the same situation as all of the other MLS teams.

    It is very hypocritical to complain about not having five players available for a USOC match when he had a (near) complete roster available last season and chose not to use none of the starters! Remember the game in Chicago!

    Mr. Backe, let’s give hypocrisy a rest, ‘I might say’!

  17. Too bad, its better than when they play league matches on FIFA days. Plus the whole idea is to test depth vs lower division teams. Hopefully the Battery knock out Backe

  18. Yeah, it is really unfair to New York that Charleston doesn’t have any guys good enough to play for a national team. Why they don’t even have to worry about the MLS schedule as none of their players are good enough for MLS either. Lucky Battery.

  19. Except the NYRB are the squad with the most internationals per minute than any other MLS team.

    You set up the team this way, you can expect these results. No MLS team will have that many USMNT or Canadian players to cause such a disruption.

    He does have a point, but look to the source.

  20. Backe is just upset hecause the Open Cup matches weren’t scheduled to coincicide with his summer vacation plans.

  21. U.S. Soccer definitely doesn’t take the Open Cup seriously or push it. That’s why I had no problem with the Red Bulls playing reserves in it last year. I highly doubt the casual fans have any idea it even exists.

  22. Kind of an odd complaint given his decision last year to completely blow it off. Valid all around, but still it seems a little disingenuous.

  23. I dont see why MLS teams play in this tourney. It adds unnecessary travel and congestion to the season. Scrap this tourney and invest in a proper reserve league and quit playing on FIFA dates


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