During the Second Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, The Villages SC upset the Charleston Battery 2-2 (4-2 PKs). Yesterday, the result was overturned in favor of the Battery as The Villages SC used an ineligible, "Cup Tied" player. This is the second occurrence in the tournament of clubs using ineligible players, as Ventura County Fusion were also disqualified for breaking this rule during their first round match. After repeated violations, it would be in every club's best interest to fully understand this rule.
The "Cup Tied" rule is used by almost all domestic knockout competitions in the world. This rule is in place to prevent clubs that have made deep tournament runs from buying players that made appearance in earlier rounds. The FA Cup is one of the biggest proponents of enforcing this rule, with its most recent use coming during the 2008 final, where Portsmouth were unable to use striker Jermaine Defoe because he competed in earlier rounds of the tournament for Tottenham Hotspur.
The "Cup Tied" rule is mentioned in Section 203 of the US Open Cup Rules Handbook, specifically in subsection (c):
"Any player who plays in part of an Open Cup match for a team, including any Open Division qualifying round, may not be included in the Open Cup roster or play for another team in the Open Cup competition for that competition year."
Penalties for violating this rule have been doled out in accordance to subsection (d):
"If any team plays an ineligible player in an Open Cup match, that team is subject to fines or other penalties, including game forfeiture, as determined by the Adjudication and Discipline Panel"
What Went Wrong
Ventura County Fusion forfeited their Opening Round match vs LA Wolves FC after playing Gabriel Gonzalez who appeared in two Open Division qualifying matches for Cal FC. The LA Wolves protested the match result and US Soccer found in their favor.
The Villages SC were also disqualified from the Open Cup after Paulo Vaz started the match vs Charleston, as Vaz had made an appearance for Boca Raton FC during their qualifying match against Uruguay Kendall FC. Vaz also came on as a substitute during The Villages' recent First Round win over Kraze United.
What Happens Now
The LA Wolves FC took advantage of Ventura County's forfeiture by upsetting the USL's Orange County Blues in the Second Round, and now sit only one win away from facing the LA Galaxy in the Fourth Round.
Charleston will now take on the NASL's Jacksonville Armada FC, on June 1st. A win would have the Battery facing Orlando City SC for the second consecutive year.
What every club needs to take away from this is that the qualifying rounds are still a part of the 2016 tournament, despite being played in 2015. Thus, if any player appeared for a club then, they cannot play for another club now.