Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis Has Glorious Past in Open Cup Soccer

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis Has Glorious Past in Open Cup Soccer

Article excerpt

Some of the details are a little fuzzy after nearly 27 years, but John Hayes will never forget the goal.

"I remember Dan Muesenfechter with the ball in the left corner and making a near-post run as he played the ball across," Hayes said. "I was able to get to the spot before the defender and direct the ball with my chest into the goal.

"Back then, there was no 'golden goal,' so we still had to hold them off through the rest of overtime. As I recall, they had a couple of pretty decent chances late, but we managed to hold on."

Hayes' overtime goal on June 25, 1988 was the difference as the Busch Seniors knocked off the San Francisco Greek Americans 2-1 to capture the U.S. Open Cup title at St. Louis Soccer Park.

That title is the last of 10 won by St. Louis squads in the tournament, which began in 1914 and ranks among the oldest open cup events in the world.

This year's version of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup resumes locally at 7 p.m. Wednesday when the United Soccer League's St. Louis FC hosts Minnesota United FC of the North American Soccer League in a third-round game at Soccer Park in Fenton.

"I'm very familiar with Minnesota; I actually played 13 games with them in 2013," STLFC forward and NASL veteran Mike Ambersley said. "They're a very deep team and a team that'll give us a challenge. Generally, the NASL teams are a bit older and more experienced, which means they tend to play a little more calm and under control."

Wednesday marks the first Open Cup game this season for Minnesota (3-3-1), which has won its last three NASL matches. In March, Major League Soccer announced Minnesota United as an expansion team set to begin play in 2018.

Coming off a wild 3-3 draw with Louisville City on Sunday, STLFC is 3-3-2 in league play and 1-0 in the Open Cup, thanks to a 2-1 overtime win last week over the visiting Des Moines Menace.

The STLFC-Minnesota United winner will advance to face MLS' Sporting Kansas City in a fourth-round game June 16 at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

With 91 teams, this year's U.S. Open Cup is the largest in history.

Since Major League Soccer's debut in 1996, teams from the country's top professional league have won all but one title. The exception was in 1999 when the second division Rochester (N.Y.) Rhinos knocked off four MLS clubs, including the Colorado Rapids 2- 0 in the title match.

In last year's title match, the Seattle Sounders defeated the Philadelphia Union 3-1 in extra time.

'A VERY GOOD GAME'

Joe Olwig, coach of the Busch Seniors, said the 1988 Open Cup championship match was similar to an NBA contest.

"Each team had its runs, times when it appeared to be in control, but then the other would come right back," said Olwig, who focused on coaching after suffering a broken leg while playing at St. Louis University.

"We'd beaten a very good team from New York in the semifinals and the team from San Francisco was also an excellent team. …

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