Reading United AC, the 2019 USL League Two runner-up, has declined an invitation to participate as a USL League Two representative in the 2020 U.S. Open Cup.
The move follows the decision
of U.S. Soccer's Open Cup committee to revise the 2020 schedule, playing the first three rounds in March and April. In recent years, the tournament's first round has been held in May.
early start prevents teams like Reading United from using college players in the first three rounds. The NCAA prohibits college players from taking part in outside ball before May 1.
Reading United, which attracts some of the top college players each summer, holds the modern-era amateur record of 12 straight years of qualifying for the U.S. Open. In 2019, it advanced to the second
round, where it fell to USL champion Louisville City, 3-0.
Reading United's alumni include such players as C.J. Sapong
, Alex Bono
, Matt Hedges
and Ben Sweat
all U.S. internationals. It's also had players taken as first-round picks in the MLS SuperDraft the last nine seasons.
"This abhorrent scheduling decision forces the top USL League Two
and NPSL teams, who afford an Open Cup playing opportunity to NCAA
and U-23 players in the USA, to completely modify how they structure a team," Reading United said in a statement, "or worse,
forces them to relinquish their deserved spot to a lower-ranked team."
The shift in schedule allows more time between rounds for teams to promote games and arrange travel and for ESPN+
broadcasts to be set up. It also allows MLS teams to begin play earlier in the season.
In 2019, the Open Cup first round was held May 7-8.