Tuesday, October 04, 2011

How I Learned To Love The U.S. Open Cup

(formerly "How I Learned to Love the Bomb" by Television Personalities)

By guest editor Dang.


Oh the joyous and crazy things I have seen at the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup I have seen a home town hero hoist the cup after scoring the winning goal in extra-time.


Kings of the Cup: Chicago Fire US Open Cup Victory, 1998 (video)


I've seen Hristo Stoichkov proudly lift the Dewars Cup.

I have seen refugees from war torn Liberia, playing on a 1st division side, take down not 1 or 2 but 3 MLS teams.

I have seen friends get maced and 40 yard wonder goals blasted through a haze of smokebombs.

I have traveled over 3,000 miles to see Open Cup matches...2,400 of those miles to see 3 of the 4 Fire victories.

Calling in sick to work and hitting the road with a feeling like no other.


By a million billion miles.

MLS Cup playoffs have nothing on the Open Cup.


You might've guessed by now that I am a Chicago Fire supporter. Since game One. It's true. But living in Minnesota has not made it easy to follow this team from the city in which I was born.

After attending the first Fire home game I have continued to make a yearly pilgrimage to see the Fire, and through the many ups and downs.

I have to say that the Open Cup tournament is branded in my brain like food and air. When the Fire shocked everyone and beat the mighty D.C. United for the '98 MLS Cup I knew that the upcoming Open Cup final against Columbus had the potential to be a phenomenal situation... like, you know, winning the double in our 1st year.

I forgot to mention that I knew no one at these games. I would travel down, sing myself hoarse, head out to my ma's place to crash and go home the next day. None of my old Chicago friends were into soccer so I was solo for a long time.

The atmosphere at game time was incredible. Polish Ultras lighting off flares and getting chased by security ... we were all learning and creating the culture and passion of Section 8 as we went along.

When Frankie Klopas put in the winner the explosion of voices was like none other. 20,000 Chicagoans showed up for that match and laid it all on the line, just like our team. I left that match knowing the Open Cup was something very very meaningful. And , despite what some Sounders fans may think, the Kings of The Cup were born !!

These days MLS has established itself enough where some of you might be thinking, "Yeah , so f'in what?!" Back then it was new hat. What's this tourney all about? Some of us weren't aware of the FA Cup or what a Eurosnob was. But the chance to win ANOTHER trophy and celebrate the MLS Cup win was easy enough to get behind.

2 years later it was Stoichkov doing the damage and an own goal from Tyrone Marshall that saw the old Miami Fusion take it on the nose, losing 2 -1. Again , almost 20 thou showed up for the 2000 Final. We did it again in 2003 taking down the hapless NY Metrostarbulls 1-0. Thank you very much Damani Ralph. Somehow NY only managed to get 5 grand out for the Final and we all wondered aloud at whose palms were greased allowing them to host.

2006 was the last year we took home the Open Cup title beating the LA Gals 3-1.

Now, of course, I just wasted my energy dissing the NY fans for not supporting their team in a cup final and guess how many Fire supporters showed up? Not 15 or even 10 thousand but a paltry 8. Before you remark at what a biased jerk I am (you would be correct though) I have to say that those 8 thousand were the maple syrup boiled down from 20 gallons of sap. You know, the sweetest, choicest ones around, who felt exactly as I do about the amazing drama that is the Open Cup.

Over the years seeing players such as Josh Wolff, Jerzy Prodbrozny, Peter Nowak, Lubos Kubik, Chris Armas, CJ Brown, DaMarcus Beasley, Chris Rolfe, Ante Razov, Jesse Marsch, big Zach Thornton, Diego Guttierez, Tony Sanneh and Carlos Bocanegra be as thrilled to touch, lift, kiss, caress and parade with the Dewars Cup trophy as little kids is an experience I look forward to having every year the tournament starts up.

While living in Minneapolis I began to support the Minnesota Thunder of the old A-League. In 2005 they had a fantastic run to the Semi's. At our teeny tiny turfed out high school football field we destroyed RSL 6-4 and then crushed Colorado 4-1. Liberian refugees Melvin Tarley and Johnny the Tiny Ticket (after Kevin Garnett's moniker) Menyonger were pulling the strings, kicking ass and taking names. We had a few thousand turn up for those matches in St. Paul and the underdog vibe had us all in a frenzy. The next game was away at KC, and the Thunder front office with the Dark Clouds supporters organized a bus for 50 or so of us fanatics .

The ride down was barely wasted as we came up with hilariously creative chants. The best of which used the Ooompa Loompa song to call out Preki as an AARP card carrier. At the game we out-sang the Wiz supporters and cracked up the casual fans all around us. They couldn't hate on the Oompa Loompa! After a 3 to 1 whuppin at the hands of the Thunder a couple idiots tried to take a poke at one of us. As the fearless creator of this very blog, El Brucio, tried to intervene he got blasted with mace by some local yokel rentacops. He was in pretty bad shape and our 7 hour midnight ride home home had an odor reminiscent of our unfriendly Minneapolis PD. Mace was everywhere. Alas the Thunder fell to the LA Gals 5-2 in the semifinals, but man oh man what an incredible run it was .

So now in 2011 we have witnessed Jalil Anibaba's screamer from 40 yards out under the cover of Section 8 smoke to send Colorado home early, and the much discussed no-show by Hans Bakke and the NY Red Bulls first team that added to the fun and drama of this years Chicago games.

Credit where credit is due. The Seattle Sounders have won the last 2 Open Cup titles and their fanbase and front office both take it as seriously as any Fire fanatic.

This leads us up to Tuesday's epic Open Cup Final between the old school Chicago Fire (vying for their record tying 5th Cup win) and the new kids on the block Seattle Sounders (going for a record 3 Cups in a row). 30,000 plus wearers of green will be there as will 150 or so Fire diehards. We both want this game BAD. Tune in and check out just why the LAMAR HUNT U.S. OPEN CUP is the best goddamned tournament we have going.

DANG !!!!


2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final
-Tue Oct 4
Seattle Sounder FC v Chicago Fire SC - 9:00pm Central Time on Fox Soccer
Venue: CenturyLink Field


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