We are getting closer and closer to watching the final of the 2017 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup as the New York Red Bulls will travel to the Mid-west to faceoff against Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park, in Kansas City, Kansas.
This will be a big time final for both sides as SKC is gunning for their fourth US Open Cup title as they are three for three in these finals with victories over the Chicago Fire after extra time in 2004, defeating the Seattle Sounders in 2012 & then defeating the Philadelphia Union in 2015
This article is going to be a little bit personal for me as I remember that day of the 2003 US Open Cup Final. The date was Wednesday, October 15th and it was one of the biggest days in my life following the MetroStars as they were getting ready to play their first cup final in US club soccer history.
The feeling I had for this match was the same feelings I had for the US Men’s National Team getting ready to play against Mexico at Columbus Crew Stadium in February of 2001 as I couldn’t sleep being excited for that big World Cup Qualifier.
Well that night I had the same nervous feelings for the Metro in that US Open Cup final, but as I was able to relax and get some sleep, I woke up with a fantastic feeling that this was going to be a day of celebration.
I drove from Teaneck, NJ to Hoboken, NJ and got on the PATH Train into Manhattan to take the N train down to City Hall, there was a celebration party with every single member of the Empire Supporters Club as we were preparing ourselves for the big final.
At this time I wasn’t apart of the NY Soccer Media as I was still a big supporter and I was very excited to get going with the festivities that afternoon, but we were all hanging out at Nathan Hale’s have a couple of laughs, being merry and at the time we had the privilege to share a couple of beers with a celebrity.
Then former MSG Network Analyst and at the time working with ESPN, Tommy Smyth graced us with his presence and joined in the merry time as he gave a speech and wish the Metro good luck as well as all of us who came down to get our pregame party going.
Now at the time I was working with the Sports News Media on a larger scale so I wasn’t able to go to Giants Stadium for the final, I did however had to work the final for NBC & CBS News Affiliates for highlights so in spirit I was at the game.
It was very sad that the lower bowl at Giants Stadium was ninety-seven percent empty for the broadcast, but I knew that Section 101 would be filled to the hilt with the loyal supporters of this club and was very proud to see them make some noise.
Watching the MetroStars taking on the Chicago Fire and seeing this final on Fox Soccer Channel was a fantastic feeling and seeing both sides walking out on the field turf made me believe this was going to be a glorious night.
During the opening forty-five minutes I saw the Metro attacking with will, with desire and with hunger that they wanted to get on the scoreboard first. Amado Guevara found ways to bring the ball up the field and made some fantastic passes to both Clint Mathis & Andrezj Juskowiak.
Sadly either they missed the net or the save was made by Zack Thornton, still it was a great opening half for the club and when the halftime whistle blew, I never felt nervous, I believed the boys were on the front foot and they were going to get that opening goal in the second half.
But sadly no matter how optimistic I felt, the little thought of worry was there. That one moment where it could go wrong and it did. Damani Ralph who was a terror in MLS that season found a way to destroy our hearts and souls.
It was his 68th minute tally that roofed inside the net and cleanly beat Jonny Walker for the only goal of the match, but I was mad and upset screaming at my monitor when I saw Evan Whitfield foul a Metro player before Ralph shattered our hopes and dreams.
Sadly I had to watch that celebration on the field at Giants Stadium, I had to record and write down the gold medal ceremony to see Bob Bradley’s former side and still with his former players that was being managed by Dave Sarachan.
Seeing Ante Razov hugging the old Dewer US Open Cup Trophy, but before that final whistle blew to end that match, a member of US Soccer or of the Soccer Hall of Fame started to drill holes into a section of the wooden plaque.
Drilling two holes, a silver plate with the name and year that said 2003 Chicago Fire and screwing in the bits to add on to the history of this historic tournament. I felt Fox Soccer Channel was trolling me at the time.
After getting all the footage I needed and after the broadcast was over, I moved on to my next game as I fell silent. My former co-workers came over to tell me that they will get back into the final next year.
Well that next year became fourteen years later and now as the New York Red Bulls, they have another chance to try and bring home one of two important cups that needs to be added to their trophy case next to the two supporter shields.
Hopefully that deed will be done on Wednesday, September 20th.