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.
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.
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.