US Open Cup Interleague Play: How do they Fare Head to Head?

by on 31 May 2016

This coming Wednesday,  June 1st, we’ll reach the third round of the 104th Lamar Hunt US Open Cup – the round where we see the first interleague clashes of the upper professional divisions of US Soccer.  While slowly growing in awareness and importance, the tournament still lags far behind England’s FA Cup and other domestic cup competetions.  In the ever-shifting soccer landscape in the United States where the top three divisions (MLS, NASL, USL) are jostling for fans, markets, sponsors, and attention, the Open Cup gives us the one chance to pit those clubs and leagues up against each other for bragging rights in real competition.

On its own, US Open Cup is not the best judge of league quality.  Much like the March Madness as a barometer to compare basketball conference supremacy, no single-elimination tournament can be a test of quality.  Our domestic leagues change each season, particularly in the lower divisions, so that even comparing them against themselves year-over-year is a sometimes difficult task.  Each individual club takes this tournament with varying degrees of seriousness – some trotting out “B” squads until later rounds while others circle the dates on the calendar as their top club priority.

But with that said, interleague rivalry, giant killing and cross town non-league derbies are part of what makes US Open Cup so much fun.  We love to trash talk about it, we root for the minnows and we want to see how we stack up against everyone else.  So, here’s something to add to the conversation.

Infographic: Interleague Play in US Open Cup

Infographic: Interleague Play in US Open Cup

Notes and Highlights:

For those of us who follow the Open Cup closely, we love it because of all the romance, history and unpredictability that comes with it.  Drink it in, because the action restarts this Wednesday.

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  • Brian Quarstad

    I think this is a case of the history being so short that I’m not sure we can make too many assumptions here. As you so well pointed out Mike, it all depends on many things including how serious the teams or leagues take the competition. Case in point, the NASL stunk up the joint last year in the round when they entered and played USL. So they only have a 25% win rate. But then you look at the numbers that NASL have against MLS teams and it’s a .414 which seems about right. Then you look at USL vs MLS and you only have a .209.

    I think the NASL were pretty embarrassed last year after loosing so badly to USL teams. With the very competitive NASL Spring Season, they were focused on that instead and did not put their best teams forward when playing USL. I think the NASL learned their lesson that these USL teams are pretty good and you are going to have to put your first team on the field for results. Wednesday night should be interesting.