U.S. Open Cup
While recent reports show that MLS is getting higher attendance numbers than the NHL and NBA, it should come as little surprise given soccer's long history in the United States.
Last weekend, my wife dragged me out to a massive—and I mean MASSIVE—antique show in North Portland. Two full expo center halls plus and outdoor soccer pitch’s worth of tents filled with sellers of all manner of knick-knacks, furniture, vintage toys, prints and the like.
While I was on the hunt for nothing in particular, I found myself drawn to tables with old postcards and photographs. It was here that I began to uncover fun little elements of soccer history.
At one table, the merchant had three-ring binders of old photos. In one overflowing tome simply labeled, “Sports,” were random photos of soccer clubs from Prague in the 1930s.
I was particularly drawn to a collection of six photos labeled, “Sparta ABA vs. Heidelberg SC, National Cup, 1936.” Underneath each club is “Chicago” for Sparta and “Pitsburg, PA” (sic) for Heidelberg. A few Google clicks later revealed that Sparta ABA stood for Sparta Athletic and Benevolent Association. Wikipedia tells us that Sparta ABA, aka Chicago Sparta was founded by Czech immigrants in 1917.
The National Cup referred to in the photos is, in fact, the now more commonly known Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Wikipedia gets a bit vague here, but best I can make out, the pictures are from the Western Division National Cup semi-finals which Heidelberg won 2-1. Wikipedia lists a Sparta Garden City of Chicago playing Heidelberg but given the photo, I’m inclined to believe Wikipedia meant Sparta ABA.
My score of the day, however, came just as the whole show was finishing up. Tucked behind some old Muppets pint classes and other plastic toys was an early-year MLS soccer ball from at least 1997. Adorned with numerous now defunct logos of Miami Fusion FC, San Jose Clash, Tampa Bay Mutiny, and old skool New York/New Jersey MetroStars, I talked the guy down to $10.
While I expected to find old baseball mitts, balls and bats—and I did—it’s clear there’s a rich historical soccer memorabilia world out there. eBay is full of vintage goodies. For Father’s Day, my family got me an NASL Portland Timbers pennant off of eBay. Surprisingly when I opened it, however, it turned out the seller made a switcheroo mistake. I opened a triangular shaped box to find a pennant for the Edmonton Drillers. Presumably, there was an equally confused father opening his present in Alberta.
Want to find other random bits of soccer lore? Soccer blog KCKRS.com has a whole feature dedicated to it called “Treasures of eBay.” From Pink Floyd soccer kits, to a signed 1979 Minnesota Kicks ball, to a team autographed USWNT baseball, it’s all here.
What random bit of soccer history do you cherish? Let us know in the comments below or email us a pic at thebackcut(at)portlandtimbers.com.
With yesterday's announcement that the Timbers would be hosting either Cal FC or Wilmington Hammerheads in a third round match of the U.S. Open Cup on May 30, it's a good time to read up on just what is and why the U.S. Open Cup matters. We'll be having more in the lead-up to next week's match--we've got Valencia tomorrow in a friendly and a Cascadia Cup clash with Vancouver on Saturday--but Steven Goff of the Washington Post wrote a great love letter on Monday to just why he likes this unique soccer event:
I have a confession. I like the U.S. Open Cup. There, I said it.
[The] Open Cup offers the small clubs a long-shot dream of bumping off high-caliber opponents and advancing to international competition (the CONCACAF Champions League).
Best of all, the Open Cup creates David vs. Goliath matchups unseen in American sports outside the NCAA basketball tournament. One particularly dreamy pairing is close to coming to fruition. On Tuesday night, the Aegean Hawks, an amateur outfit from the D.C. area, will play the third-division Richmond Kickers at Maryland SoccerPlex in Montgomery County.
Take a few moments and read the whole thing--the U.S. Open Cup has a tremendously rich history. While the Timbers lean more towards the Goliath in their upcoming match next week, it certainly doesn't discount the interesting clash of teams across American soccer. This year's tournament is the 99th edition of the competition. Who says there's no soccer history in the U.S.?
Starting at $10, tickets go on sale to the general public Wednesday at 10 a.m. through the JELD-WEN Field box office, area Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phoning (800) 745-3000.