- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On July 10, 2009
- 12 Comments
- 2009 US Open Cup, Geoff Reid
Editor’s Note: Geoff Reid appears on WVHooligan each week. Today he talks about the US Open Cup and how important it should be. Feel free to leave Geoff your comments below.
Growing up the other side of the pond, the FA Cup was a way of life where at some point we all could have taken part in the tournament at some stage. I had mates who competed in the very early parts at the local level. But more then anything else, every kid playing the game dreamed about playing in the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium and walking up those steps to lift the famous trophy. In the last few years some will argue that the old competition has lost some of itís romance with the bigger Premiership clubs not taking it seriously like they used to. Of course the Champions League and UEFA Cup (now Europa League) where clubs take part means more games plus international friendlies more then ever before, all of this still doesnít disguise the fact that my old local side Chard Town could have the chance to play the billionaires from Manchester City. You canít write scripts for this sort of thing, itís what makes the tournament so fascinating.
Back over this side of the water, our version is the US Open Cup and this is a topic that has been bugging me for a while. This seasonís tournament has both shown us the very best it can offer and the very worst at the same time.
If we start with the best, my local side the Ocean City Barons of the Northeast Division in the USL Player Development League went on a magical run to the last 16 where they eventually fell to DC United after previously beating Real Maryland amongst other clubs in higher divisions. Then another club not too far from myself, the Harrisburg City Islanders of USL-2 going as far as the quarter finals before, once again, DC United finishing off their fairy tale story. They knocked out the New England Revolution in the previous round.
All the way across the other side of the country, we got a preview of what MLS in 2011 will look like when the Portland Timbers hosted the Seattle Sounders. It might not have been the most attractive football played, but the atmosphere from what I could gather watching was electric. Everything from the sight of Timber Jim with his chainsaw taking down the Seattle Space Needle in the fantastic simulation at PGE Park was amazing. Not only was it a real cup atmosphere, but a derby in that sense and what is possibly the most intense rivalry in North American football (I know folks will argue Chivas USA vs LA Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes vs the Galaxy, RSL vs Colorado Rapids and DC United vs Chicago Fire) and you can add the Vancouver Whitecaps into Drew Careyís ďtriangle of death.Ē
The problems with all these stories? No publicity, not even from US Soccer.
You can understand why MLS wouldnít go out of their way to promote these matches and these teams because itís got nothing to do with them. However, US Soccer has no excuses. These are the story lines the tournament should be promoted around. Ocean City was the last PDL team in this seasons tournament, and it got good local press with coverage being excellent. Having worked in the PDL before for a club that took the tournament very seriously, I know what it means to players on those teams to go head to head against the so-called elite. Then thereís the talk of MLS teams not taking it seriously enough and you canít really argue that fact when so many teams got knocked out at the same time when putting out second string sides and underestimating the opponent. You would think that the incentive is there with the winner getting the chance to compete in the CCL the following season.
We all know that these cup competitions in other nations are no big deal to clubs and itís usually a good chance for clubs to field reserves, certainly thatís how the Copa Italia and Copa Del Rey are viewed in Italy and Spain respectively. Now the FA Cup is in trouble possibly going down this path. The one argument that can be said in defense of MLS compared to Europe is that MLS has only been around for 14 years and you simply canít complete with all the history, tradition and culture of over 100 years. In regards to the Open Cup, this is not a problem, because the Open Cup has been around since 1914. This tournament has history, tradition and culture to a lot of small, amateur clubs. All this tournament deserves is respect and itís not getting any from the top brass at US Soccer. Thatís all I ask. Why have MLS clubs play these games at smaller venues? Why not have the final on a neutral venue each season in as close proximity to the clubs involved as possible? The tournament deserves better.