Why you should care about U.S. Open Cup

You should care about the U.S. Open Cup because, although it remains far from perfect…..

*On a day when Manchester City and the New York Yankees committed to spend hundreds of millions on MLS, fourth-tier, low-budget, largely amateur and mostly anonymous Reading United, Des Moines Menace, Ocean City Nor’easters and FC Tucson upset pro sides on Tuesday night.

Reading video package:

*As the tournament unfolds, the gulf between some opponents is greater than any other American sporting competition. The structure is comparable to the NCAA basketball tournament, with ambitious programs staring down well-stocked bullies. In the NCAAs, however, every team, big or small, is made up of college students. In the Open Cup, amateurs are often pitted against professionals.

*Before pro teams entered in the modern era, past champions were truly representative of their communities and industries: Fall River Marksmen, Bethlehem Steel, Brooklyn Robins Dry Dock, St. Louis Central Breweries, Philadelphia Ukrainians and Maccabi Los Angeles, among others. (FC Dallas just doesn’t have the same ring.)

*The inaugural Open Cup was decided in 1914 — 53 years before the first Super Bowl and 25 years before the first Final Four. (Long live Brooklyn Field Club.)

*In this centennial year, the U.S. Soccer Federation raised the first-place prize money to $250,000 from $100,000 and the winner is all but assured of again receiving a CONCACAF Champions League berth.

*There’s a guy in Michigan, Josh Hakala, a full-time news website producer/editor, who has poured his heart and soul into independently chronicling and publicizing the Open Cup for 10 years on his own time at TheCup.us. (He does have some help now.)

*Next Tuesday, D.C. United’s third-choice goalkeeper and perhaps its homegrown teenage forward, both of whom are on loan to the third-division Richmond Kickers, will have something to prove to the mothership.

*After burning out of MLS and the national team program at a premature age, Danny Szetela got another chance.

*Last year, former U.S. national team star Eric Wynalda coached an amateur team, Cal FC, to the round of 16.

*Tucson’s independent supporters’ group is called the Cactus Pricks.

*Although an MLS club will almost certainly win the trophy for the 17th time in 18 years, history has taught us that some of the 16 top-division sides will fall in next week’s third round.

*The fourth-tier Laredo Heat went on the road and played a man down for 54 minutes, including extra time, but took the second-division Fort Lauderdale Strikers to the eighth round of penalty kicks.

*Mike Jeffries, a former Dallas Burn boss, won Open Cup titles as a Chicago Fire assistant in 1998 and 2000 and is now guiding Des Moines.

*New Jersey-based Ocean City plays steps from a boardwalk and in the shadows of Gillian’s Wonderland Pier.

Courtesy of Ocean City Nor'easters
Courtesy of Ocean City Nor’easters

*Fort Lauderdale tweeted so often, the club had to suspend updates in the late stages of PKs and wait until midnight to provide the outcome:

 

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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Steven Goff | May 21, 2013