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US Open Cup Stories: When Backe Didn’t Care

A strange time as Hans Backe wasn’t on the bench, nor traveled for the road US Open Cup Games

New York Red Bulls v New England Revolution
Hans Backe in 2011 decided not to be on the bench at home or on the road for the US Open Cup
Photo by Gail Oskin/Getty Images

And once again another interesting story of this clubs in their past in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup as the Red Bulls are going to travel to the Mid-West to face Sporting Kansas City in the Championship Final on Wednesday, September 20th.

So as I discuss the stories about games, players, years and coaches, there will be some positives and some negatives that must be discussed and while the negatives do leave a bad taste in our mouths, it has to be talked about.

Every single season the Metro/RBNY have played in the US Open Cup, most of the coaches running the club have cared or demanded their players to go after this tournament where playing a certain amount of games to get to the final and win a trophy for entrance to International Cup Competition.

We go to the 2011 season of the Red Bulls where they were stopped in the Quarterfinals of the US Open Cup, but something strange happened when a certain person was suppose to be in his technical area.

From his three year stint Swedish Head Coach Hans Backe who was hired by Norwegian Sporting Director Erik Soler was tasked to run the Red Bulls and get to the promise land of which was and always has been the MLS Cup Final.

But just like in Europe you have a league season and an FA Cup Season to try to face against opponents within your own division and those in different divisions within the country when going one and done.

Their first opponent in their US Open Cup run was against a side called FC New York that played their home games at Belson Stadium on the campus of St. John’s University in Jamaica, Queens.

But this would be the first Match proper in the US Open Cup for the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena and after a scoreless first half, there were some questions stirring if this match might go to extra time.

Well after conceding the opening goal, the B-side showed some moxie and went out to score two unanswered goals and defeated the upstarts by a final of two goals to one. A solid come from behind victory for the Red Bulls and while it was a solid match there was a strange thing I noticed in the press box behind the Red Bulls Bench.

There was no sign of Hans Backe inside his technical area. At first I thought to myself that he might have been sick or come down with something and was a late scratch himself to manage this important Cup tie.

When the media went to the press conference room, Backe came over to speak to the media and was very happy to see how the club was performing in the US Open Cup, but when he was asked why he wasn’t in his technical area, he said he wanted a higher view to watch.

Now as strange as that sounds I do remember a time during the UEFA Champions League many years ago, a manager of Glasgow Rangers did sit in the owners box during matches and when he needed to make a change or give out instructions, would go down to the bench area and passed along his thoughts to his assistant.

But when the next match in the US Open Cup was at the Chicago Fire in the Quarterfinals, you thought that it was a huge moment to get a chance to face a Chicago side that could’ve been ripe for the taking and moving on.

Well on the web cast from the Fire the man who would be running the club was assistant Mike Petke and while we know what he did for the two years running the Red Bulls in 2013 & 2014, he wasn’t ready at that time.

It was a four goal destruction and Hans Backe never made the trip to Bridgeview. When the fans in the South Ward heard this, there was a planned protest to remain silent in the first forty-five minutes in the next league match against FC Dallas.

Even though Juan Agudelo scored the opening goal for the Red Bulls, they eventually drew that match as Thierry Henry saved a point from the visitors. But the truth is that I think Soler wasn’t happy at all the Backe took a step back from the Open Cup as the fans weren’t happy about it either.

So thankfully he took it seriously again in 2012 and everything was right once again. But as we have seen in seasons past, a trophy no matter which way you try to get it is still a trophy and now in 2017 the Red Bulls have that chance.