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Timbers drop U.S. Open Cup appeal after investigation clears LAFC


In the end, it was a miscommunication, and not an intentional breaking of the rules that led to Los Angeles FC fielding a squad that was ineligible by U.S. Open Cup rules.

That was the ultimate determination reached by U.S. Soccer after what it called a “thorough review” of the circumstances that led LAFC to field six non-American players when the tournament rules allow five. The Portland Timbers withdrew their protest of Wednesday’s loss to LAFC in response to U.S. Soccer’s findings.

“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 In recognition of this fact, the Timbers have gracefully withdrawn their protest.”

U.S. Soccer Statement

The controversy centered around LAFC midfielder Mark Anthony Kaye, who is considered a domestic player by MLS rules despite being Canadian and despite not holding an American passport or citizenship. That designation did not apply to the U.S. Open Cup, but LAFC was incorrectly informed that Kaye did qualify as a domestic player for the U.S. Open Cup when an inquiry was made prior to Wednesday’s match.

“We are pleased the situation has been resolved,” LAFC general manager John Thorrington said in a team-issued statement. “From the start, we proactively did our due diligence with U.S. Soccer to ensure our roster was compliant with U.S. Open Cup guidelines. We have stayed within those guidelines throughout the tournament and will continue to do so moving forward. We are excited to turn our attention to taking on the Houston Dynamo in the U.S. Open Cup Semifinals.”

With the controversy settled, the U.S. Open Cup can now go on with LAFC facing the Houston Dynamo in the semifinals, with the Chicago Fire taking on the Philadelphia Union in another semifinal.


  1. In at least a couple times before, teams have been handed forfeits for fielding ineligible players. Until now it’s been a team fielding a player in the tournament who played someplace else in qualifying. This is basically “guilty with an excuse.” I don’t see how it’s different. It’s your risk when you play players you’re trying to squeeze under the rules.

    I still want to know how a Canadian TFC Academy product is LAFC’s HGP. Even if it’s true it’s a loophole that needs to be closed. You can’t be a second (or third, or fourth, since he went down to the minors) team’s HGP. You can only be homegrown at your home. If we can’t HGP Dallas’ players in Houston then US or Canadian teams shouldn’t be able to HGP each other’s players.

    • LAFC played and dressed twice as many US players, the Timbers just had more guys with green cards so not sure how Timbers got screwed. I didn’t watch but I’m fairly certain having seen him play that Kaye was not the difference maker in the match.

    • but but ussoccer admitted that portland is right, lafc’s roster was not
      compliant. maybe they should let lafc submit a compliant roster and reschedule the match? this is the usa open cup, a concacaf champions league berth is at stake (plus obvious money and pride and bragging rights) and portland deserves a fair chance to win that prize.

    • forgive me? but canada can have (and maybe they do have?) their own open cup, but this is the **USA** open cup.

      my two cents: why the limit on the number of foreign players in this tournament? if lafc has 11 foreign players and wants to field them, let them. this is not the olympics or the world cup. this is a club competition. by asking players to show their national id cards for a club tournament, i think ussoccer is acting like they’re a little confused.

      • My guess is it’s a new rule because it makes distinctions among leagues — amateurs can have as many as they want while the pros have another rule. And international slots in MLS have only recently gotten to the point a team might be fielding more than 5 internationals in MLS much less USOC. If MLS didn’t allow 5 internationals then why would a rule only applying to pros allow 5? It only makes sense as a response to the league crossing that threshold, and heading on towards 8 ish now, maybe more eventually.

    • In the NCAA you don’t get to recruit a player being paid money or play someone academically ineligible, win the trophy, then defend it as “but I won it on the field.” The rules of the game begin with roster rules regarding who sees the field. You can’t field a man in women’s soccer. You can’t ignore the salary cap. You can’t ignore international limits. You can’t play the next game in a card suspension. That your team might be dominant whether you were there or not doesn’t excuse it all.


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