Portland Timbers withdraw protest over USOC defeat to LAFC - U.S. Soccer
The U.S. Soccer Federation has announced that the Portland Timbers have withdrawn their protest of Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal defeat to Los Angeles FC, clearing the way for the first-year expansion team to play in the semifinals.
The Timbers had filed the protest shortly after Wednesday's 3-2 loss, alleging that LAFC had used too many foreign players. USOC rules allow professional teams to use no more than five foreign players in the 18-man matchday squad. LAFC used at least seven players who are natives of other countries.
According to the rules, foreign players are those who are not "U.S. Citizens, lawful permanent residents, asylees and refugees." It wasn't immediately clear if at least two of the players had documentation that would allow them to be listed as non-foreign players.
The confusion largely stemmed primarily from LAFC's inclusion of Mark-Anthony Kaye, who does not take up international roster spots in MLS play but could be counted as "foreign" under USOC rules since he is a Canadian citizen and doesn't hold a green card.
However, in a statement released by USSF on Friday, the federation said: "After a thorough review of the Portland Timbers' official protest, it has been determined that the inclusion of additional foreign players was a result of a good faith misunderstanding among the U.S. Soccer, Major League Soccer and Los Angeles Football Club. Each organization involved has agreed to determine an improved process to ensure this will not happen again. In recognition of this fact, the Timbers have gracefully withdrawn their protest."
An LAFC spokesperson told ESPN FC on Thursday that the club's executive vice president of soccer operations John Thorrington asked the USSF via email if Kaye counted as a domestic player in the Open Cup. The USSF confirmed that this was the case. Furthermore, a copy of the matchday roster that is produced by the USSF was obtained by ESPN FC, and shows Kaye listed as a domestic player.
And following the announcement from USSF, LAFC released the following statement on behalf of Thorrington: "We are pleased the situation has been resolved. From the start, we proactively did our due diligence with U.S. Soccer to ensure our roster was compliant with U.S. Open Cup guidelines. We have stayed within those guidelines throughout the tournament and will continue to do so moving forward. We are excited to turn our attention to taking on the Houston Dynamo in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals."
LAFC, playing in the competition for the first time, also used five other players who use international roster slots for its MLS roster -- Mexico's Carlos Vela, Norway's Adama Diomande, Costa Rica's Marco Urena, Belgium's Laurent Ciman and Uruguay's Diego Rossi.
The USOC rules say teams fielding ineligible players are "subject to fines or other penalties, including game forfeiture." But now that Portland has withdrawn its protest, LAFC will go unsanctioned.
Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.