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MLS Execs Spar About Open Cup

The U.S. Open Cup got a little testier this week with club executives exchanged barbs. It began when Seattle's Adrian Hanauer expressed disappointment that the U.S. Soccer Federation chose RFK Stadium as the site for the Sept. 2 championship game between the Seattle Sounders and D.C. United. He also questioned the legitimacy of bid process and whether United would draw 10,000 fans, suggesting D.C. would lose money on the game. Seattle made a lucrative financial bid to stage the match at Qwest Field, he said, but because of logistical stadium issues, the only realistic time slot for the soccer game was 1 p.m. (local) on Sept. 1 (Tuesday).

United President Kevin Payne has now come back at Hanauer in defense of the bidding process, United's fans, and money issues. "I was surprised and disappointed and offended," Payne said of Hanauer's comments. "Adrian uses the word 'skepticism' to describe the process, which seems to be implying that it wasn't on the up-and-up. Which is really an outrageous implication. He is implying that we somehow are receiving favorable treatment. We bid aggressively at every level this year and last year. We did so because we didn't want to travel if we could possibly avoid it, given the demands of our schedule [Champions League]. Seattle doesn't have those same demands because this is their first year. Adrian has no knowledge of what we bid or didn't bid; my guess is that we bid more aggressively than they did." When asked whether the bidding process should have more transparency Payne responded: "Not if the critieria is going to be financial. If the USSF wants to come up with a new criteria, then it could be more transparent."

If defense of United's fans Payne told the Post's Steven Goff: "I appreciate that Seattle's fans are great. Our fans have been great for 14 seasons. It's really unseemly for Seattle to suddenly show up in MLS and everything should be handed to them. Their crowds are wonderful, we had a great time out there in Seattle [last month], but our crowds are pretty good too and we expect this year we will get far more people in the building than we did last year [8,200]. Last year we played a USL team in the final and, the way our team was going in general at that point, our fans were disappointed and disillusioned. That's not the case this year." Payne said he expects the club to make money on the game. To complete his defense, Payne also praised RFK Stadium's grass field compared to Seattle's artificial turf.

 

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