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A Tale of Two Cities: Kansas City and Orlando

To play or not to play? That is the question. USL PRO Team Orlando City Lions and MLS affiliate team Sporting Kansas City are set to play each other in the 4th round of the US Open Cup on Wednesday, June 12th at Sporting Park. However, everyone is not so excited about the match-up. Since Orlando City and Sporting Kansas are affiliates, there are four players loaned to Orlando that will not be allowed to partake in the match. Let’s break this down into the business standpoint and the competition standpoint to better understand the problem at hand.

Business Standpoint

Sporting Kansas is paying the salaries of four loaned players to Orlando City. These players include USL PRO scoring leader forward Dominic Dwyer, goalkeeper Joe Kempin, midfielder Christian Duke, and defender Yann Songo’o. Granted, there was an agreement upon the loan that the players would not play against their club, and this agreement is normal in the EPL and other leagues around the world. Sporting Kansas coach Peter Vermes has stated “They’re not there to compete against us; they’re there to get better, so that at some point we can bring them back to us when they’ve gotten good experience. But that doesn’t mean that would be against us in a competition.” The US Open Cup is a title that Sporting Kansas won last year and from the sound of it would like to capture the title again because it would give them an automatic bid into the in the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League, in addition to the winners’ prize of $250,000.

Competition Standpoint

Supporters of both clubs see the match up in an entirely different light. Many feel that the loaned players who have been with Orlando City all season should have an opportunity to play. They should have an opportunity to show their home club all they have accomplished with Orlando. Supporters in Orlando feel like Sporting Kansas should want to play the best, which includes their loaned players in Orlando. Comments from around the supporters groups include “Whatever happened to sportsmanship?”, “SKC is holding their players development back!”, and “It’s obvious they are keeping them from playing to protect their financial assets.” Even Sporting Kansas City fans were looking forward to the opportunity to see their players come back and play. The disappointment is very apparent on both sides of the coin.

The entire situation could have been avoided had the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), the administrators for the USOC built a clause stating that affiliate clubs wouldn’t have to play each other. Instead, by some miraculous “random” draw the New England Revolution & Rochester Rhinos, DC United & Richmond Kickers, and Sporting KC & Orlando City were all drawn to face each other even though they are partner clubs. The New England Revolution opted not to let their loaned players participate while DC United opted to let them participate. It’s quite obvious that Sporting Kansas City would like to continue to the next round of the US Open Cup so the decision to not play their loaned players is a no-brainer. Whether the decision comes from a business standpoint or a competitive standpoint the entire situation could have been avoided through policies and procedures. Either way, the entire situation for all parties involved is rather unfortunate.

Thanks to Kim Sisneros for provided a balanced perspective on the situation surrounding the decision to hold the SKC loanees out of the upcoming USOC fourth-round match. Kim will be providing occasional coverage on Orlando City for Reckless Challenge on Orlando City throughout the remainder of the season.

Chad Hollingsworth
Chad has supported USL since its incarnation as USL PRO in 2011. He is dedicated to the growth of soccer in the United States. In addition to writing and podcasting for Reckless Challenge, he started a supporters group for Dayton Dutch Lions FC and obtained a USSF coaching license to help local youth.

8 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Cities: Kansas City and Orlando

  1. First, it’s Sporting Kansas CITY, not Sporting Kansas. You made that mistake 5 times in this article.

    Second, it’s common the world over for loaned players not to play against their parent club. See Tim Howard’s loan from Everton to Manchester United in 06-07, or Lukaku’s loan from Chelsea to West Bromich Albion this past season. Lukaku scored 17 goals in the Premiership, but wasn’t allowed to play against Chelsea and have the chance to knock them out of the Champion’s League. This is a complete non-issue. The only reason it’s big news is because the typical American soccer fan is ignorant of the way loan agreements normally work.

    1. I’m going to respond on Kim’s behalf, but the opinions are my own.
      First, apologies for getting the name wrong.
      Second, we are not ignorant of how loans normally work in the rest of the world. In fact, Kim pointed to this in the piece. Just because others do things a certain way, that doesn’t mean it’s only way to do it. I like footy in the rest of the world, but I’m really only concerned about how it is operated in this part.
      This is big news because the full terms of the agreement weren’t obvious from the get go. This is big news because Orlando City has a legit shot at upsetting multiple MLS sides. This is big news because SKC are the defending champions.
      The timing of the news makes SKC look scared.

    2. Ok. So Sporting Kansas City. Next time we’ll just abbreviate it SKC. I did talk about the fact that this is how it happens in the rest of the world, but the US is known for doing things their own way. As such, MLS and the USSF have shown this numerous times. This is just another example. My other big point here is that the “random draw” doesn’t seem so random since three affiliate clubs were put together to play each other. Not one, but three. This doesn’t seem so random anymore. That’s my main point here and Chad is right, timing is everything and this timing makes SKC look scared to play the Orlando City Lions. Just an opinion.

        1. Maybe you should re-read the article. Pooling groups and all the trouble they went through to have a random draw is outlined. The comment about teams not playing their PDL squads should have been extended to not playing their affiliated minor league club. It would have been very easy. The Cu[p even states they want geographic ties whenever possible for travel costs. Hmmm, Dallas and Houston are much closer to both Orlando and Kansas, yeah look it up they play in Kansas. A Dallas to Kansas and an Orlando to Houston set up would have put closest team to closest team. Your reference to the third round draw article is pointless.

    3. The author omitted the word “city” on occasion so that the article would not sound redundant. But you already knew that… you just wanted to be a troll.

      The guys have a possibility to put a US Open Cup victory on their resumes and they deserve the chance to do that. At least the decision to play should be their own. It does make SKC (oops.. Sporting Kansas CITY) look scared.

      P.S. All this bashing of American soccer fans because we might be newer to the game is LAME. It makes you look like a total elitist.

      1. “City” is not redundant. The club belongs to the city. It does not belong to the state. The city is called Kansas City. It’s a name. You can’t chop letters off your friends name for “redundancy.”

        This is particularly important in this case because Kansas City exists in two separate states simultaneously. Half of the city is in Kansas. Half of the city is in Missouri. By removing “City,” you are not removing redundancy. You are literally removing 200,000 people.

        1. I think the OP meant to remove redundancy in the post rather than the name of the team, but your point is heard and understood.

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