Minnesota Stars Will NOT Host 3rd Round USOC Game Against Real Salt Lake
In the US Soccer press release tonight that announced the results of the 2nd round US Open Cup matches and the 3rd round pairings, it was revealed that the Minnesota Stars of the NASL, who had won the right to host Real Salt Lake, have now sold their rights to the MLS team and therefore will no longer host the game in Blaine, Minnesota next Tuesday, May 29th.
The statement also said that Atlanta have sold their rights as well and will now travel to Seattle to play the Sounders rather than hosting them in Silverbacks Park.
The press release reads:
Three third-round scheduling changes were made following Tuesday’s second-round play. MLS’s Real Salt Lake, which would have gone on the road to face the NASL’s Minnesota Stars in Blaine, Minn., is now hosting the third-round matchup. RSL and Minnesota will play each other at 7 p.m. MT on Tuesday, May 29, at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.
The Seattle Sounders also will host their third-round match, which originally would have been played in Atlanta, Ga., against the NASL’s Atlanta Silverbacks. Seattle will host Atlanta at 7 p.m. PT on Wednesday, May 30, at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash.
The Chivas USA-Ventura County Fusion game will take place at Ventura College in Ventura, Calif., kicking off at 7 p.m. PT on Tuesday, May 29.
Michael Lewis of the Salt Lake Tribune wrote in an article late Tuesday night. The team worked out a late-night deal to play the May 29 game at home, instead, presumably giving it a better chance of advancing in the nation’s oldest tournament and maybe even make some money. The deal was struck in the hours after the second-division Stars beat fourth-tier Des Moines 2-0, despite playing the final 50 minutes a man down.
Indeed, Stars CEO Djorn Buchholz was seen on the phone after the game tonight in Des Moines. IMS contacted Buchholz in the early hours on Wednesday morning and he stated, “We are very excited to advance to the third round of the U.S. Open Cup after a valiant effort by our team in Des Moines last night. I want to thank all of the fans that traveled to Des Moines to help us advance. Their presence was heard loud and clear.”
“We were presented with a business opportunity to change the venue of this match to Rio Tinto Stadium that we could not pass up,” said Buchholz in regard to the venue change. ”As we continue working to ensure the long-term viability of the Minnesota Stars FC, sometimes difficult decisions must be made, and this was one of them. But history has shown that Minnesota pro soccer teams have what it takes to go on the road and get a result, and we believe this team has just that.”
The format of this year’s Open Cup allowed a coin flip to see who hosted the 1st – 3rd round matches as long as they had stadiums that met the USOC standards. The 50/50 chance allowed smaller clubs a better chance of hosting in the first 3 rounds. But as happens in other countries domestic tournaments, it also allows for larger teams to buy out the smaller team which can often be a windfall for cash-strapped lower level teams.
Buchholz and the Stars would have had to pay the USSF $12,000 to host the 3rd round match and had less than a week to market the event on a weeknight. It’s quite possible that the Stars not only saved money by not needing to pay the Federation, but they most likely are getting either a percentage or gate percentage from sales from Real Salt Lake or an agreed on sum.