The LA Galaxy lost 2-0 to the Carolina Railhawks yesterday in the US Open Cup, without Bruce Arena and with Michael Stephens wearing the captain's armband. LA were one of four west coast teams that had to travel 1,500 miles or more; all four of those clubs lost. No east coast team had to travel across the country, but the Seattle Sounders, San Jose Earthquakes, Colorado Rapids, and Galaxy are all out of the tournament.
Only one lower division side gets to host an MLS club in the fourth round, with Chivas USA traveling out to Carolina to face the Railhawks. The next round will also see the Tampa Bay Rowdies travel all the way to Portland, while the east coast MLS clubs plays in regional rivalries. (ed: this paragraph had to be updated, I wrote this mini-rant after midnight and the press release listed the away teams first).
The NASL will rightly brag about their two teams left in the US Open Cup after upsetting MLS sides, but it's a league that only has no US club west of Texas. USL Pro has two, with a third coming in 2014. There are five west coast MLS clubs, and only one of them was paired with a nearby opponent.
Nothing about this arrangement is going to make west coast MLS clubs happy about participating in the US Open Cup. The Seattle Sounders used the bidding process to secure home games over a remarkable four year run, but no such luck this year.
With the lower divisions being essentially regional (out of necessity) it's hard to see a version of the US Open Cup which is fair to all participants. As such it will remain a tournament where MLS teams send reserve sides until the end of the tournament.
USSF should want better for it's 100 year old tournament. Why not divide into two regional groups, cutting down on travel for all sides involved?
This tournament is a chance to show off the depth of soccer passion in this country. Getting MLS clubs excited to participate should be a priority. In it's 100 years of existence, one of the cup's biggest problems is top level sides not wanting to participate. That trend needs to be curbed.