Soccerstoriesbook's Blog


WHAT THE U.S. NATIONAL OPEN CUP COULD BE

Tonight, the Seattle Sounders will play host to the Columbus Crew in the 97th Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final before a sellout crowd of nearly 33,000 at Qwest Field.  Seattle and Columbus outlasted a 40-team field that ranged from dreamers from the U.S. Amateur Soccer Association and fourth-division Premier Development League to eight entries from Major League Soccer.  [October 5].

Comment:  The match will mark another milestone in American soccer history regardless of whether the Sounders become the first club since the 1982-83 New York Pancyprian-Freedoms, a semipro side, to successfully defend the cup.  The turnout at Qwest Field will break the previous attendance record for an open cup final, set in 1929 when 21,583 watched New York Hakoah blank the Madison Kennel Club of St. Louis, 3-0 at Brooklyn’s Dexter Field.  (That year’s final was played on a home and home basis; 15,000 fans were on hand a week earlier at St. Louis’ Sportsman Park to see Hakoah take the first leg, 2-0.)

No surprise that it would be Sounder fans who would be the ones to break this mark, but this green-and-blue-clad throng suggests that the nation’s oldest knockout sports competition has some potential in the modern age after all.  The attendance of 17,329 at RFK Stadium for last year’s final, when Seattle topped DC United, 2-1, was very good.  Thirty-three thousand is great.

It is doubtful that the competition originally known as the U.S. National Challenge Cup will ever approach the fervor of the granddaddy of them all, the English F.A. Cup.  But with better promotion and a more serious approach on the part of MLS clubs, who routinely schedule cup matches at secondary (read: bush league) venues and start second-tier players, perhaps there will be some extra luster to the cup by the time the 100th edition kicks off in 2013.  For soccer fans treated to a less-than-meaningful MLS regular season, a truly high-profile, win-or-go-home competition would be most welcome.

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