St. Louis returns to the U.S. Open Cup after a five-year absence when first-year St. Louis FC meets the fourth-division Des Moines Menace at World Wide Technology Soccer Park at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Although St. Louis hasn’t been represented in the tournament since the long-defunct AC St. Louis reached the third round in 2010, the city has strong historical connections to the 101-year-old event, one of the oldest open soccer tournaments in the world. Starting with the Ben Millers in 1920, St. Louis teams have reached the Open Cup final 17 times and won 10 times. Busch Soccer Club — which would merge with Scott Gallagher to form today’s St. Louis Scott Gallagher — last brought the cup home to St. Louis in 1988. Pictured above are the 1986 US Open Cup Champions, Kutis SC who defeated the San Pedro Yugoslavs from Long Beach, CA by the score of 1 -0 at the St. Louis Soccer Park (now home of STLFC).
Note: There will be a Paul Dueker Legacy Game played Sunday at the Park (Facebook Event). Dueker, who I met and bonded with first as a referee and later over beers at Amsterdam Tavern, died last year during a bike training ride in advance of the Fall season. His friends and family invite you to come remember him by playing. Dueker was the goalie for the Kutis SC Cup Champions pictured above.
Wednesday’s second-round match — St. Louis FC and its fellow USL teams drew first-round byes — features several sub-plots:
• St. Louis FC forward Mike Ambersley played in the 2010 Open Cup with AC St. Louis and scored the only goal in a 1-0 second-round victory over the NSC Minnesota Stars. AC St. Louis lost 2-0 in the third round to the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer.
• The Menace, who play in the Premier Development League, include Vince Cicciarelli of St. Louis University, who scored in Des Moines’ first-round 2-1 win over the Madison Fire. SIU-Edwardsville defender Brett Lane and St. Louis native Nick Jones, a midfielder at Wisconsin, also are on Des Moines’ roster. Both Cicciarelli and Jones are products of SLSG SC.
• Des Moines coach Mike Matkovich hired current St. Louis FC general manager Jeremy Alumbaugh to work for him when Matkovich coached PDL teams in Chicago that included Brad Guzan. Matkovich also ran the Chicago Magic, one of the top programs in the country at the time with Alumbaugh his #2.
• Should St. Louis FC avoid an upset Wednesday night, they would host their U.S. Open third-round match against the NASL’s Minnestoa United on May 27.
The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is the country’s oldest cup competition. It is open to all affiliated amateur and professional teams in the United States and this year marks the 102nd running of the Open Cup.
YouTube video – A guide to the first 100 US Open Soccer Cups
This story contributed by Dave Lange, author of Soccer Made in St. Louis: A History of the Game in America’s First Soccer Capital, published in August 2011 by Reedy Press.
Previous contributions to this site include stories from the USWNT visit in April, including “Perfection #STLsoccerCity” along with Lori, Becky and their JB Marine Club Coach Mike Gauvain.