U.S. needs knockout Cup excitement, says NASL chief

Tue Oct 21, 2014 10:15pm EDT
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By Simon Evans

BRIDGETOWN Barbados (Reuters) - The excitement and surprises provided by a successful knockout cup competition, similar to England's F.A Cup, could help massively boost interest in soccer in the United States, the head of the country's second flight believes.

Bill Peterson, commissioner of the North American Soccer League, which includes teams such as the New York Cosmos and Tampa Bay Rowdies, says the 100 year old U.S. Open Cup could be revamped to play a major role in the growth of the game.

The Cup, which is open to professional and amateur clubs, has been competed for since 1914 but still has a low profile and appears a low priority for clubs form the top tier Major League Soccer (MLS).

"I think that property is the next big (sports) property in this country, it certainly should be," Peterson told Reuters at the Soccerex Americas Forum.

"Here is a chance to get three leagues and the amateurs involved and light up over 70-80 communities at once. Why wouldn't you do that?

"We are working to advance that agenda. We hope we get there at some point because that is an important competition," he added.

Peterson has long been in favour of the introduction of promotion and relegation to the U.S system in the face of opposition from the MLS, a 19-team single entity franchise-based league.

While acknowledging such change is not currently on the agenda, Peterson believes putting greater emphasis on the Open Cup could bring new impetus to smaller clubs which, unlike in most of the world, have no chance of rising to the top of the pyramid.   Continued...