USL clubs will play in 2024 U.S. Open Cup

The USL has informed U.S. Soccer that all 47 of its clubs will participate in the 2024 U.S. Open Cup, sources with knowledge of the situation have told The Athletic. Sources were permitted to speak anonymously given the continued tenuous nature of talks around the tournament.

There are currently 24 teams in the second-division USL Championship and 12 in the third-division USL League One, with another 11 amateur clubs from USL League Two qualifying for the tournament in its preliminary rounds. In December, MLS announced its plan to have its developmental teams from MLS Next Pro participate in place of their first teams. U.S. Soccer initially declined to grant the league authorization to make such a move, but the league and federation have since remained in “near daily” talks all year to find a way for MLS’s involvement to change in 2024.

On Wednesday morning, USL president Paul McDonough told Yahoo Sports that the situation was “very emotional” and that some of the qualifying clubs may choose not to participate “based on principle alone.”

However, sources involved in the situation stated that over the course of Wednesday, USL club owners discussed their plan to participate in the tournament, which is set to kick off on March 19. Although several owners shared concerns over MLS’s intentions, the group ultimately decided it was in the best interest of the sport to stay aligned and partake unanimously as a message of support for the century-old tournament.

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