The Ocean City Nor’easters are a club that has won its first two fights on the pitch by winning their U.S. Open Cup games 2-0 over U23 New York Red Bulls (May 14) and 1-0 over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (Tues. May 21). Their next fight will be off the field with U.S. Soccer, as the team prepares to face MLS side Philadelphia Union.
All reports are that the game will take place Tuesday May 28th at PPL Park, the home of the Union in Chester, PA. However it really should be at Carey Stadium in Ocean City, NJ. The winner of the Pitt/OC game won the right to host the next game. Everyone was told if Pittsburgh won then Philadelphia would travel west to face Riverhounds on the road. And if Ocean City won then they would have to travel to Philadelphia. The Union even publicly announced this.
The truth is U.S. Soccer took this game from Ocean City, they originally won the rights to this next game. The reason it was taken was Ocean City’s field was not the correct width for U.S. Open Cup matches. I spoke with team officials about this. I was told they knew they would at least host the one game, others were pending on if they won.
Ocean City went about their business and started to prepare for their season in the PDL of the USL, as they’ve always done. The club spent extra time getting the pitch ready this season as it was damaged during Super Storm Sandy, along with their offices. The pitch was all ready to go and they sent their paper work into to U.S. Soccer but it was rejected since it didn’t fit the required width. Ocean City was never informed that needed to widen the field and didn’t get their U.S. Cup Handbook from U.S. Soccer until three weeks after the original paper work was filed. So how was Ocean City to know it was wrong size when it’s the same measurements they had used for years in PDL play.
Ocean City did fix the field before their first U.S. Open Cup game against U23 Red Bulls, and U.S. Soccer let them host their next match against Pittsburgh. The next match which they won the home draw was against the Philadelphia Union but they were told that fixing the field didn’t matter because U.S. Soccer looked over this for the first two matches and decided to give the game to Philadelphia.
Ocean City after beating Pittsburgh Riverhounds 1-0 on Tuesday May, 22 have filed a case with U.S. Soccer for wrongfully taking the game from them. They have top football representation out of London, England with Jim Sturman QC. Sturman has taken on and won cases over FIFA, so this is no small matter for him. Ocean City also shared this information with FIFA and will them over look the matter.
Whether Ocean City wins their case or not it’s not right to push around a smaller club just because they draw the big crowds, have a roster full pros and aren’t on national TV. This club would benefit from hosting this game far more than Philadelphia. And let’s face it Philadelphia last year had to beg people attend these game. The Union made the game free to season ticket holders and offered free parking. They still only drew a few thousand. Ocean City front office members told me Tuesday night that revenue they would produce from hosting Philly would keep them going for years to come. Let’s keep in mind Ocean City is a true amateur club, where players are living in dorm style apartments and sleeping bump bed. One of their set ups is 10 players in a two bed apartment.
Most likely U.S. Soccer will side with Philadelphia and have the game at PPL Park, but the fight in the Nor’easters will continue and it is side that needed to be shared.
With the permission of the Ocean City Nor’ easters here is a link to the protest letter CLICK HERE