The Kentucky State Open Cup preliminary stages kick off in Owensboro this weekend and they feature many southern Indiana players.
However, probably the biggest story surrounding this year’s competition has occurred before the upcoming action even takes place.
Six-time state champions Javanon ’94 — featuring southern Indiana trio Jordan Vejar, Matt Kelecy and Nick Blackwell — have been ejected from the U18 tournament for fielding a suspended player last week in a preliminary game against United 1996 International.
The game, which took place at Collegiate Fields in Louisville last Thursday to avoid a conflict with May 26 graduation ceremonies, saw Javanon thrash their opponents 11-1.
However, Kentucky Youth Soccer Association later informed Javanon ’94 of their disqualification for fielding a player — Kentucky’s 2011 Mr. Soccer John Manga — who they said was ineligible due to a suspension picked up at last year’s U.S. Youth Soccer Region II championship.
His red card against Grand Rapids Crew of Michigan in their 2-1 semifinal defeat carried through to the first game of this year’s state tournament.
Since that carding, Javanon’ 94 has been involved in the US Youth Soccer National League, with Manga missing the first four games.
Sources at the club said Monday that Javanon is appealing the ejection and expects a decision imminently. KYSA had not provided a comment on the issue at the time of publication.
Note: The US Youth Soccer National Championships Policy states, under Rule 225 (Team and Player Breaches of Rules), Section 3: “A player who is sent-off from any championship game is prohibited from participating in the next immediately following championship game played by the player’s team.”
And Section 2: “Any team found guilty of using an ineligible player is not eligible to compete further in the National Championships competitions in the current seasonal year.”