We are already underway in the month of September as we have reached the very first day of the month. That means the countdown to the 2017 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final has begun, so why not get underway with some stories from the past as we take a trip down memory lane.
This series we will look at some of the games and players that have made this side entertaining to fight for the National Championship of US Soccer, to be honest when I was starting to follow the sport again after the 1994 World Cup I never knew about the US Open Cup.
It was in a merchandize catalog of Major League Soccer back in 1997 when I saw a big silver trophy that was celebrated in 1996 by DC United and right away I knew it wasn’t the first Alan I. Rothernberg cup with that golden soccer ball on top of a wooden plaque.
Before the internet was born I asked people who followed the game a lot closer and longer before I did if they knew what trophy it was and finally I was told it was the US Open Cup, the big soccer ball globe on top of four silver pillars and then the big wooden base that had the names of the past winners on it.
So let’s start this series off right with the first one discussing the MetroStars first nemesis in the US Open Cup as they have faced off against the Columbus Crew four times.
There was always something special playing against the black and yellow from the capital of the State of Ohio, every time these two sides met on the pitch it was like showing a scowl against you're little brother. One thing was for sure was that these games in the Open Cup were very entertaining.
The first match came in the 1998 Semi-Finals as US Soccer decided to play almost every game in a neutral venue to showcase the cup and tried to get people to learn about this tournament.
Well the first matchup was at a minor league baseball stadium as it was played at the home of Pacific Coast League’s New Orleans Zephyrs at Zephyrs Field. This was the second Semi-Final Appearance for the Metros after defeating the Hampton Roads Mariners of Virginia in the 3rd Round.
Then the Tampa Bay Mutiny in the Quarterfinals with a four goal clean sheet victory down at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga, Tennessee and now another huge Semi-Final match against their Eastern Conference opponents.
Sadly for the Metro this one ended before it began as a 5th minute goal by Ricardo Iribarren bounced over the outstretched arms of Tony Meola as the only quality shot on frame was the winner. But a closer look showed that the fill in grass along the first base line was too hard and that’s why that ball bounced a little higher than normal.
In the 2000 season these two sides met up once again at Crew Stadium as their Quarterfinal match ended with a Penalty kick Shootout. After Tab Ramos and Brian McBride traded goals in regulation and went through extra time, the shootout provided the winner advancement to the Semi-Finals.
Both sides traded goals till the fifth round where both keepers stopped the shots from Tab Ramos of the Metro and then Jason Farrell was stopped. Both sides continued to convert in extra kicks till Mike Lapper shot the ball wide right of the far post.
Another Quarterfinal match up out in Long Island at the Mitchell Athletic Sports Complex provided some revenge for the Crew as they defeated the Metro 2-1 in 2002. It was a Rodrigo Faria penalty that was converted and pulled one back after Brian McBride and Kyle Martino gave their side a two goal lead.
The final time was a wild one back at Crew Stadium in the fourth round of 2003 as the Metro were down quickly two goals to nil by Edson Buddle. Out of nowhere Brian Maisonneuve puts the ball into his own net, but made up for it by scoring the third goal near halftime.
But this is where defenders become goal scorers and showed that they weren’t going to lie down against there rivals. Steve Jolley pulled one back to put fear into the home side, but it was the US International Defender Eddie Pope who scored the equalizer and the winner to continue that run to the final.
So it’s been a long time since the Metro/Red Bulls have played against the Columbus Crew, but as we saw in the 2017 Semi-Finals this was their third trip to the State of Ohio and defeated FC Cincinnati to get to this years Championship Final.