Ocean City Nor'easters

Protest: Ocean City wants US Soccer to change site of USOC 3rd rounder against Union

UPDATE: Union spokes person tells PSP, “According to documents that we received from US Soccer this morning, the game against Ocean City is still going to be played at PPL Park on Tuesday night as planned.”

Shortly after the Ocean City Nor’easters produced a stunning 1–0 upset over USL PRO side Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the second round of the US Open Cup on Tuesday evening, they produced another stunner.

The PDL side filed an official protest with US Soccer over the site of the third round cup tie against Philadelphia Union. (Click here for a PDF version of the protest.)

When US Soccer released the third round draw on May 15, Ocean City was scheduled to play the Union at PPL Park if the amateur club was able to defeat Pittsburgh. According to Ocean City director of communications Steve Thurlby, “When the draw was made for the third round the Ocean City Nor’easters were drawn as the home team.”

Thurlby explained, “However, due to a clerical error three months ago, US Soccer believed that the dimensions of our field did not meet the requirements. Once we discovered this error we increased the size of our field to the US Open Cup standards. However, we hosted the first and second round games with US Soccer believing that our field was not meeting their requirements. We were told that they waived these rules in these first two rounds. They are telling us that we do not matter. MLS teams matter to them.”

The Nor’easters play at Carey Field, which they share with Ocean City High School’s football, soccer, and lacrosse teams and has a capacity of 3,500.

Ocean City’s protest was drafted by, Jim Sturman, a London-based barrister who owns a vacation home in Ocean City. Thurlby said of Thurman, “He is a remarkable man who has worked with some of the top clubs and players in European soccer as well as being directly involved with UEFA  and FIFA.”

The protest says that the dimensions of Ocean City’s pitch is in fact compliant with the dimensions set forth in the US Open Cup handbook, “Even if the Committee were to have found that the dimensions were not in fact compliant, it has the authority, in it’s discretion – such discretion obviously to be exercised reasonably and in accordance with sporting principles of fairness and equity as well as ‘for the good of the game’ – to rule that the club’s ground is still appropriate to host the tie.”

The protest notes the “unfair disadvantage that a revocation of the right to host would have on Ocean City,” and adds, “To refuse Ocean City the right to play at home is wrong in principle and contrary to the good of the game.”

The protest concludes, “Obviously for the good of the game (and in accordance with FIFA’s Statutes and Regulations) we accept entirely that this dispute should be dealt with within the rules of Football, however we wish to strongly urge the Committee to bear in mind the interests of the people of Ocean City who will be given an enormous boost by having the fixture played just before the summer season gets underway after a terrible and devastating winter.”

Thurlby said, “The commissioner of US Soccer could have easily reversed this decision but they have bowed to the pressure of MLS and given in to BIG soccer. For soccer to grow and establish itself in American life there needs to be a strong amateur community. By allowing this game to go to Pennsylvania they are threatening the future of our club and setting a precedent that threatens the future of soccer in the country.”

We will have further developments as they become available.


  1. Probably a bit too late for the protest to do any good, But I think the Home Game would do them more good than the Union.

  2. The Duke says:

    It’s not a clerical error if your field was actually too small. That’s a real physical error.

  3. frankswild says:

    Its probably too late, but I hope they get it. Too many weeknight games so close to each other

  4. Shouldn’t they have filed the protest on May 16th?

  5. I think it would be fun to see the U play in OC. If the U needs home field advantage to beat OC, then that is a whole other issue….. I hope OC wins the protest and I have an excuse to go to the shore for the night!

  6. Jeremy Lane says:

    I absolutely hope they win their appeal. It would be great to have the game in OC, and like Dan says above, if the U needs homefield to beat them, then that’s the Union’s issue, not theirs.

  7. I think you would probably get more people to come to the game if it was in OC then at PPL. A lot of people have houses at the shore, if the game was in OC I would make a trip of it and watch the game.

  8. What does a “terrible and devastating winter” have to do with anything? Was it Hurricane Sandy that made their field small? Maybe someone should have thought about this before the 21st of May.

  9. I felt bad for them until they played the Sandy pity card. Cape May County didn’t see the damage as the northern part of the state. Not something a soccer game would fix anyhow.

  10. neck label says:

    ha ha. its ok to play 2 tournament games on this field but not 3. something feels wrong about this. its stinks i tell ya!

  11. If they win the appeal who cares, the Union are a better away team anyway lol

  12. Barely anybody would show up to this game at PPL anyway. The U would probably lose money hosting it. Play in OC. That’s what the open cup is about anyway.

    • I was thinking about that. My theory goes it might be more cost effective to have this game for the extras matches for season ticket holders. As opposed to bringing in a foreign team for a friendly. But this is a WILD ASS GUESS.

      • Jim Presti says:

        they already announced the the Open Cup match is the second free ticket for season ticket holders. My guess is that it will be played at PPL

    • It also costs money to ship a team & staff 2 hours each way btw. I’m not saying its an enormous cost, but neither is powering PPL park for an evening

    • Bleed Blue and Gold sopped up with Bimbo Bread says:

      Completely agree. Fill the OC stadium rather than speckles of fans through out PPL.

      If the field was ok for the first two games it should be ok for an MLS team. What’s the difference? There is none in this tournament. OC got the draw and should be the home team in their home stadium.

  13. Soccer MaN says:

    If union play B team they will win 1-0. If u play A team 3-0. At PPL Park they will CRUSH OC. In OC field is horrible maybe 1-0.

    Though OC has a MUCH better goalie than Union does.

  14. Isn’t there some sort of revenue share for these games? Surely OC would make more money if the game is at PPL? I can’t imagine THAT many people making the trip on a Tuesday night downashore but plenty would go to PPL (especially as it is ‘bonus’ game no. 2 for full season ticket holders).

    Sounds like posturing to me.

  15. lastguyoffthebench says:

    Ocean City has improved over the years. They lost to a mediocre DC United team 2-0 in the 2009 Open Cup and made a run in the PDL last year. Saying that the Union will smoke this team is not a certainty. Granted, OC will probably sit in, play some long balls and occasionally counter with the pace that they have.

    I can’t imagine Union bringing in that many non season ticket holders for this one, but I’m going to show up for it.

    I believe revenue is not shared during these games, so OC will lose the opportunity to net 30-40k or so (if they hosted, given their capacity).

  16. Sean Doyle says:

    Before I get on the bus to go to Red Bull Arena with Reading United, I’m going to call this what it is, a money grab!

    1. Why would you risk alienating/pissing off potential customers. Ocean City is a talented team on the field. When they show well against the Union, perhaps some Philadelphia fans decide to make a short trip down to the shore and take in one of Ocean City’s PDL matches. Acting out like this is no way to win over fans.

    2. It’s not wise to upset a Wookie. In this case, the Wookie is US Soccer. Taking pot shots at US Soccer and MLS over the draw is short-sighted. Someday, they may need help from the US Soccer and well, I think you get where I’m going.

    3. Why deny your players the opportunity to play an MLS side in one of nation’s premier soccer stadiums? They’ve earned that privilege. Our players are buzzing at the chance to play the Red Bulls in Red Bull Arena. They earned the chance to play against one of the top teams in North America (stop laughing) in a game that, for many on our team, will be the biggest match they’ve ever played. Let the boys on OCFC experience walking out of the tunnel at PPL Park, with the River End in full voice. The stadium won’t be full, but let them have that stage to show what they can do.

    Off to the North Jersey Bedpan, wish us luck!

    • I totally agree with this. I go down to the shore just about every weekend in the Summer and I always try to catch a few Ocean City games. My kids always have alot of fun and its a nice place to watch a game. However, OC’s current stance in regard to this Open Cup game is pretty horrible. If they did have a “clerical issue” then it should have been handled as soon as the draw was originally announced last week. Also, why take the unneccessary shot at US Soccer, MLS, and “BIG soccer.” I’ll probably still go to a few OC games this summer but that will be mainly for my kids to enjoy and not because I want to support the team.

      • erik,
        see my reply .
        you are totally wrong just like ussoccer. they had plenty of time to correct their wrong decision and opeted out of it.the little guy looses again. you think we just decided on a whim to file a protest ? ocean city franchise has been around a lot longer than most mls franchises .hey you can stop by next game and i will explain to your personally what happened.

    • neck label says:

      maybe OC just wants to win and they feel they have the advantage on the OC field.

    • sean,

      i appreciate your support.
      my boys are raring to go vs the union regardless where the game will be played,
      but oc is getting robbed the chance to host pure and simple.
      what us soccer is ever done for my franchise ?
      yes we do need the xtra income . we have earned the right to host on the field and at the coin toss.

      anyhow good luck with red bull!!

  17. They’d probably draw more fans than Philly will. That’s enough of a reason to have in at their place IMO.

  18. hello
    the field size was changed to 110 yards to 71 yards prior to red bull game . then we played riverhounds on the same pitch.
    the protest was officially filed after the win vs reiverhounds but we had been talking to guys in charge of ussoccer a week before .
    they had all the time to make the correct call and decided not to.
    it is unamerican what us soccer is doing .it is simple we won the bid and the field is up to regulation.

  19. Ryan Heins says:

    Absolute Shame. Sean sure as a player you’re right: you’d like to be able to pretend you’re an MLS player for a day. At the end of the day, you’re thinking about you. The PDL club is thinking about their survival and their ability to generate funds to continue to operate. It’s in the best interest of OC to host this game for a number of reasons: generate funds, potential to generate community interest, and home field advantage…who doesn’t want that. Obviously the Union and Don Garber want it bad enough to stick with PPL Park.

    I’ve been to a number of MLS parks and have had the ability to beat a handful MLS teams in the Open Cup and even reach the semi-finals in 2011. The stadiums are great, but the atmosphere is pathetic. The adversity that lower division teams face against MLS teams is harsh: It seems that everyone surrounding the game has pressure to favor MLS teams!

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