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No U.S. Open Cup for Sacramento Republic in 2021

Sike! Just league play this year, then.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Los Angeles FC vs Sacramento Republic FC Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Bad news on Monday if you were looking forward to Sacramento Republic FC play in the 2021 U.S. Open Cup, as the tournament field has been slashed in half and that means Sac Republic won’t be participating after all.

Sac Republic had been credibly reported to be one of the USL’s slots in previously mooted USOC field, with them taking the place as their 2020 group winner of Reno 1868 FC, who went out of business in the offseason. But on Monday, U.S. Soccer announced the four USL Championship slots would go to the final four teams in the playoffs last season — Phoenix Rising, El Paso Locomotive, Tampa Bay Rowdies and Louisville City FC.

So that leaves Sac Republic out in the cold, now that it’s a 16-team tournament. That handball goal against Phoenix Rising in the playoffs looms even larger now!

It’s unfortunate but I kind of get it. In contrast, MLS is doing something that may be more fair but also much more of a mess — using points per game in the first three matchdays of the 2021 season to determine the eight MLS entrants. Like I said, it may be more fair but a mere three matchdays is a teeny-tiny sample size, and there could be some deep tiebreakers used, we’ll see.

So, that means the U.S. Open Cup is pushed out to 2022 for Sac Republic, and this season all they’ll have to worry about is the USL Championship season. No distractions, right?

What do you think? Leave a comment below.