The U.S. Open Cup has never been kind to the New York Red Bulls, and depending on the tournament schedule this year, that trend may continue.
MLS teams are set to enter the competition sometime between June 10th to the 18th. The Red Bulls conclude competition on the 8th before taking on a 20-day layoff in observance of the World Cup.
Red Bulls’ boss Mike Petke hopes the fourth round starts sooner rather than later — and he is not alone with that sentiment.
“I believe there was a league vote and there was a majority of owners and GMs and coaches [that] voted for the 11th,” Petke told reporters. “I am hoping that is the case. That would give us ample time and it would give us significant time to rest.”
If that isn’t the case, Petke says the tournament would be “counterproductive” to his team — and the league.
“It’s very tough,” he explains. “I am looking at the calendar right now. I believe the dates possible are the 11th, 14th or 18th.
“Our last game is on June 8th and we don’t play until the 28th. If that game is put on the 14th or the 18th — actually the 14th would be catastrophic because you can’t get anytime before or after that — but I am hoping for the 11th, personally.”
MLS matches actually run straight through the 11th, with Montreal hosting DC United and Portland playing at home against FC Dallas. Brazil opens the World Cup on the 12th, hosting Croatia.
Clearly, these three teams (Montreal participates in the Canadian Cup) would be out of the running for a start on the 11th. That can be bad news for the rest of the league. Traditionally, each round of the U.S. Open Cup is played in one day or back-to-back days. A deviation from the established norm would be necessary if Petke and the rest of the league wish for a start on the 11th. If the other sides get their wish, Portland, DC and Dallas will be facing a stark reality; back-to-back days of competition.
MLS teams were not accommodated with any special scheduling during the last World Cup. Whether they will be now remains to be seen.
Until then, Petke hopes the 11th is a reality. New York’s league schedule has already been hard enough to start the season. The U.S. Open Cup would only exasperate the team in an already hectic 2014 campaign.
“We have had a very front loaded schedule,” he says. “We played two more games then most teams. We played nine out of 15 on the road. Obviously, our guys need a rest and it’s the World Cup break.
“To have a competition like this during that is interesting to me.”