As the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup prepared to kick off its fourth round of action, Don Garber was explaining why Major League Soccer has a lighter footprint in the historic competition. With competition commitments being added left and right, top MLS teams were now playing in about 50 matches last season, spawning changes to participation in the U.S. Open Cup. Only eight teams will enter the competition in the round of 32 which begins on Tuesday as Concacaf Champions Cup qualifiers and other teams were exempt from the oldest competition in U.S. Soccer and according to league commissioner Don Garber, some of these changes could be here to stay.

Speaking at the Associated Press Sports Editor Commissioners Meeting in New York City, Garber addressed the future of the Open Cup.

"The question really is, are rosters big enough and are we developed enough to have our teams play in 50 games a season? I believe we need to get to the point where we do but I also don't think we should be playing in tournaments that are not driving value for our players, for our teams, and for our fans. It was part of the very controversial decision that we made about limiting our participation in the U.S. Open Cup," Garber said.

"Less about who controls it, but unless you have a tournament that rises to the level where fans care about it and partners care about it and it's got a real end game," he continued to say. "The end game of the Concacaf Champions Cup spot and a spot in the Club World Cup where you're competing against Real Madrid and competing against Manchester United, forcing us to see what we need to do to get our teams to compete. When our competition group looks at all the different competitions we, like all pro leagues, need to make some tough decisions and we need to prioritize those decisions."

Garber mentions that other leagues like Mexico have dropped their version of the U.S. Open Cup because of load management concerns for their players, but like Major League Soccer, some of those concerns are due to the expansion of Leagues Cup which takes place between MLS and Liga MX sides, while growing in stature as a premier cup competition in the United States.

To expand on what this means moving forward, Garber went into how he sees the priorities of the league moving forward.

"So we need to prioritize the league schedule, prioritize the Champions Cup, prioritize the Leagues Cup and where we can, we will support the U.S. Open Cup and we are believers in it. Our founder's name is on it, we'll continue to participate, we just have to be thoughtful about how we do that."

There is nothing yet on how that future for MLS teams will look and Garber emphasized that he'd still like MLS Next Pro teams to compete as it's a great opportunity for player development, but these are all things that are still in discussion. Garber did say, "Our federation should be mindful and supportive of that," referencing the tension over the Open Cup's format that exists between U.S. Soccer and Garber's league.

Players and teams all through American soccer have been outspoken on their enjoyment of the cup and the need to preserve a strong piece of soccer history but after the cup has already changed as we know it, it could undergo more changes ahead of next season.

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