Sucka Free Soccer: Hey New York – The US Open Cup Is Already Here

BY MIKE VALLO
Staff Writer

lamarhuntusopencupThe US Open Cup is celebrating its 100th edition this year. The tournament, which is open to all US based teams, regardless of their level in the disjointed American soccer pyramid, has outlived the ASL, the NASL, the first NPSL, the A-League and many other short-lived soccer competitions. It survived a 40-year World Cup drought and an even longer period of indifference and even animosity towards the world’s game.

While the tournament has never gotten the attention it deserves, there have always been small teams representing their city, factory, or ethnic enclave fighting for one of the oldest trophies in American sports.

The tournament is deeply entrenched in the soccer history of the New York metropolitan area. The soccer and even social history of our area can be traced through the Open Cup champions gone by. New York Hakoah, Brooklyn Hispano, New York German-Hungarians, and Greek American AA are just a sampling of the many New York based teams who have lifted the trophy over a century of competition.

One of only two finals the Red Bulls/Metros have ever played in was the 2003 US Open Cup. The Metrostars came closest to winning a trophy in a 1-0 loss to Chicago at Giants Stadium.

In more recent times, the Open Cup has been source of frustration for Red Bulls fans. Whether due to Hans Backe’s disgraceful throwing of the competition–which I apparently will never get over– or the teams inability to get past teams whose whole roster make less than Thierry Henry‘s weekly paycheck.

Time will tell if the Red Bulls will take the competition seriously this time around. With Mike Petke so in tune with the fans, it seems likely they’ll make the most of an opportunity for a first trophy.

But you don’t have to wait for the Red Bulls’ inevitable loss to the Harrisburg City Islanders to catch some Open Cup action. Next week there are two opportunities to see local teams take part in the storied competition.

Brooklyn Italians v. Icon FC

You’d be hard-pressed to find a team with a more impressive Open Cup history than the Brooklyn Italians, especially when you consider they play in the NPSL. The Brooklyn side was founded in 1949 and is a two-time champion having defeated the Richardson Rockets in 1991 and winning the 1979 edition as the Brooklyn Dodgers SC. They’ve made the final on two other occasions. More recently, they’ve qualified for the competition for four years straight, reaching the second round in last year’s edition.

Icon FC, who ply their trade in USASA, are making their Open Cup debut against the Italians. MLS fans will find a familiar face in Danny Szetela, the New Jersey Native with three caps who used to play for the Crew among other clubs. The team also features Argjent Duka, brother to former Red Bulls youth player Dilly Duka.

Where and When: May 14th, 8pm, at the Aviator Sports Complex in Brooklyn, NY

Ocean City Nor’easters v. New York Red Bulls U-23

While the Brooklyn Italians may have the most impressive Open Cup resume, the Nor’easters have had plenty of success of their own. Founded as the South Jersey Barons in 1996, the Nor’easters have qualified for the tournament four times, progressing past the first round every time and reaching the third round twice.

The game also offers an opportunity for Red Bull fans to see the Academy side in action. The U-23 squad plays in the NPSL, winning the Atlantic conference title last season. A committed cadre of fans are making the trip down the shore to see the Baby Bulls in hopes of witnessing the next Juan Agudelo or Connor Lade – both of whom spent time with the NPSL side.

Where and When: May 14th, 7:30pm, at Carey Stadium in Ocean City, NJ

While the USSF doesn’t seem to realize that a knockout tournament littered with David vs. Goliath matchups is a perfect fit for the American sports fan, or that a century old tournament adds loads of legitimacy to a sport struggling for attention in a crowded market, for many American soccer fanatics, the Open Cup is one of their favorite occasions on the soccer calendar. Since the tournament usually matches up teams based on their region, one of these four teams could face the Red Bulls when they enter the competition in the third round.

So take advantage of the opportunity to see some live soccer this week and be part of the oldest tradition in American soccer. Nothing could be better to soothe your soccer soul.

  • Hey NY!The US Open Cup Is Here! @MikeV88 puts the SFS spotlight on @bklynitalians, Icon FC and more http://t.co/QFZxlODXFp #USOC #RBNY #MLS

  • jerichowhiskey

    I will be one of those people going down there. Psst, if you need an incentive, Atlantic City is along the way. Unless you have a gambling problem. lol

    Funny thing is, it’ll probably take the same amount of time for me to get to Aviator field by public transportation as going down to Ocean City by car.