1999 Lamar Hunt U. S. Open Cup Final.

© MCMXCIX-MMXXII: P Q R S, Ltd. | On-Line Soccer Writers' Cooperative. - by Steve “Pudgy” De Rose.

On 14 September 1999, an epochal event in the history of soccer in the United States of America occurred in Columbus, Ohio.
The attendance figure may read only 4,455. But within the upcoming years, many, many people will claim they were present.

In baseball, the New York Yankees do not have to play the Toledo Mud Hens. In basketball, the San Antonio Spurs will not see the Sioux Falls Skyforce on their schedule. In ice hockey, the Dallas Stars will not play a meaningful game versus the Houston Aeros.

Only one team sport has a competition which allows you and at least ten of your friends to enter, which may ultimately involve your team playing against a side about which you actually read and|or view on television. And, it has been contested since 1914. That sport is soccer.

That's right, folks. The competition is the "Lamar Hunt U. S. Open Cup". If all you know about Lamar Hunt is that he owns a gridiron team, and his daughter came up with the snappy name for the N. F. L. championship game, your sports knowledge has a glaring hole which not even the Outland Trophy winner could cover.

"Lamar Hunt is one of the most important figures in soccer and his efforts to support the sport in this country have gone unmatched.", voiced Hank Steinbrecher, the Secretary General of U. S. Soccer.

As the owner of two of the twelve Major League Soccer teams (Columbus CREW & Kansas City WIZARDS), Lamar Hunt stepped to the forefront of American soccer by becoming one of the original founding investors of MLS. He also recently financed the $28½ million, 22,500-seat Columbus CREW Stadium, which was completed and opened on 15 May of this year. It is the first stadium in the U.S.A. built specifically for a major league soccer team.

Lamar Hunt was also a major supporter of MLS' predecessor: the North American Soccer League. In 1967, he became an investor in the Dallas TORNADO franchise. The following year, he purchased the Chicago SPURS from Chicago businessman Al Kaczmarek, and relocated that team to Kansas City. Lamar Hunt was inducted into the United States' National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1982.

On Tuesday night, 14 September 1999, The Rochester Raging RHINOS, an A-League side, defeated the Colorado RAPIDS of Major League Soccer by two goals to nil to win the Dewar Cup (the oldest trophy in United States' team sports). If you are at all familiar with outdoor soccer in the U.S.A., you probably would utter "MLS" [or something close to that]. MLS is the top division of soccer. The A-League is the second division.

The RHINOS defeated four MLS teams to win the Dewar Cup. They eliminated the MLS sides which had previously won the Dewar Cup (Chicago FIRE [1998]; Dallas BURN [1997]) in successive rounds.

Such is the beauty of the competition. Open to all affiliated amateur & professional teams in the U.S.A., the annual Lamar Hunt U. S. Open Cup is an 86-year-old single-elimination tournament. It is very similar to domestic cup competitions popular throughout Europe. If all you remember is the Monty Python sketch titled, "World Forum": where Lenin, Mao, & Che Guevara showed ignorance of [England] F. A. Cup winners, you are at least on the correct track.

The RHINOS' capture of the Dewar Cup is only part of the story. Much should be scribed about the most astonishing display of booster support in the entire history of U. S. soccer.
At least three hundred boosters travelled from Rochester, NY. to Columbus, OH. for this match. On a Tuesday night. On a Tuesday night. Three motor coaches were chartered. Two stayed overnight. Additional numbers of RHINOS' Safari booster club members drove themselves seven hours each way. Four people chartered an airplane. These Safari booster club members captured the stadium. Even the Contractors S.C. gave them a bouquet. Such support renders some other booster clubs' decrying of the low numbers attending their team's matches to "not enough weekend games" to the rubbish bin.

The RHINOS' roster includes numerous players who played this past winter in the N.P.S.L. Scott Schweitzer & Kirk Dietrich (from the Cleveland CRUNCH) won their second championship in four months. Bill Sedgewick and Mike Kirmse were officially credited with the assists on the two goals scored by the RHINOS. Carlos Zavala could have been awarded an assist on the 90th minute goal by Yari Allnutt. Former Canadian National Team Goalkeeper Pat Onstad became the first Canadian GK to win the [U.S.] Cup Final. The ability of the players to switch from indoor soccer to outdoor soccer, with very often not even one week's rest, should imbue upon you that while they may not be the best paid athletes, they are the most skilled to be able to play both disciplines with proficiency.

I do include the statistics of this game beneath. But they pale as to what I feel is the true result of this match. It shows that quality sides can be consisted without entailing a huge future debt. This is a message which should appeal to fans of other sports. By the RHINOS' winning the Dewar Cup, any number of soccer sides may be inspired to enter the Lamar Hunt U. S. Open Cup competition next season. And the better news is that they can. No legislative act is required. No reluctance by the higher-ranked side can prevent the matchup. And the laws under which the tournament is played satisfy the U.S.A. soccer purist.

The ultimate outcome of this match may well be what transpires next August. The RHINOS' Safari booster club in 1998 bid for and received the 2000 United Soccer Boosters Convention. This annual convention of soccer boosters has been around since 1982, but has not yet been able to attract many boosters of MLS sides. A RHINOS' A-League home match is being pencilled in during the Convention weekend. I suspect that many supporters of MLS sides shall now want to visit Rochester, and this may be the weekend when they do. And they will learn that the boosters of other non-MLS sides have similar hopes, desires, & experiences to what they aspire. North America's soccer boosters may truly become united.

With the victory, the RHINOS qualify for the 1999 CONCACAF Cup Winners' Cup, a tournament against other North American & Caribbean countries' cup winners.

Game Summary 1 2 F Colorado 0 0 = 0 Rochester 0 2 = 2 Attendance = 4455 Scoring Summary: Rochester - Doug Miller (Bill Sedgewick) 66' Rochester - Yari Allnutt (Mike Kirmse) 90' Colorado RAPIDS: Ian Feuer; David Vaudreuil, Marcelo Balboa, Peter Vermes [Cpt.], Tim Martin (Wolde Harris 81'); Kevin Anderson (Joey DiGiamarino 58'), Matt McKeon, Ross Paule, Darren Sawatzky (Jason Bent 76'), Paul Bravo; Jorge Dely Valdes. Rochester Raging RHINOS: Pat Onstad; Andrew Restrepo, Craig Demmin (Mike Kirmse 51'), Scott Schweitzer, Tim Hardy, Mali Walton; Bill Sedgewick, Nate Daligcon (Carlos Zavala 83'), Yari Allnutt [Cpt.], Mauro Biello; Darren Tilley (Doug Miller 62'). Colorado Rochester Total shots [10+5] 15 [3+7] 10 Shots on goal [1+2] 3 [0+4] 4 Saves [0+2] 2 [1+2] 3 Fouls [7+11] 18 [9+6] 15 Offside [3+0] 3 [0+2] 2 Corner kicks [1+2] 3 [3+1] 4 Discipline: Colorado: Tim Martin (professional foul) 79' Rochester: Darren Tilley (foul tackle) 38' Doug Miller (ungentlemanly conduct) 67' Nate Daligcon (dangerous play) 69' Ejections: None Referee: Tim Weyland Assistant 1: Craig Lowry Assistant 2: Nathan Clement 4th Official: Brian Darling Game kicked off @ 2007 hours, concluded @ 2158 hours. [Times are ET.]

As for the match's play, it was truly an earned victory for the RHINOS. The first thirty minutes were predominantly played in their half. Keenly, the RHINOS' first six fouls were all committed by their sole forward, Darren Tilley. (They were offensive. In the attacking meaning of the word.) D. Tilley committed eight of the fifteen total fouls for which the RHINOS were whistled. He only played sixty-two minutes. [He was substituted by Doug Miller, who, for his twenty-eight minutes of play, was selected the match's most valuable player.]

The RHINOS modified their plan of attack after the first half-hour. They switched from an air-oriented to a ground-oriented method. The RAPIDS' inability to hit the net when they had the opportunity cost them dearly. Ross Paulé had an excellent chance in the 41st minute. RHINOS' GK Pat Onstad hesitated off his line and allowed R. Paulé to get to the ball before him - only 12 yards from the goal on the right wing. R. Paulé's shot got by P. Onstad; but it also went by the right goalpost.

In the second half, the RHINOS, buoyed by their boosters, began getting chances in the RAPIDS' half. The breakthrough in the 66th minute came after a Doug Miller cross from the left wing was blocked by a RAPIDS' defender, but bounded over to the left wing corner kick spot, where Bill Sedgewick got to it as it died. He made a swift, low cross which found D. Miller at the left edge of the six-yard box. He forayed a shot which beat RAPIDS' GK Ian Feuer low, and to the near post.

Thereafter, you could sense the growing confidence of the RHINOS and the ensuing desperation of the RAPIDS. The RHINOS' tactics were not an "eleven men inside the box" move. There were numbers back there, yes. But when possession was regained, the springing pass to a forward (usually D. Miller) was executed. One of these salvos resulted in the RAPIDS' Tim Martin having to commit a professional foul against D. Miller, for which he was duly cautioned.

The second RHINOS' goal came in the actual 90th minute {89:43 by my watch}. Carlos Zavala got to the ball over by the left wing corner kick spot. RAPIDS' defender Peter Vermes did not block his cross, not wanting to concede a corner kick which would result in more time (three minutes of stoppage time had been announced) being drained off the clock.
The ball sailed over the heads of several RAPIDS' defenders and managed to glance off the RHINOS' Mike Kirmse's head, continuing over to the right. Yari Allnutt settled the ball, and with I. Feuer coming out at him, hit it low and to his left for the cincher.

Here, I thank Mr. Bryan Chenault; Public Relations Manager for U. S. Soccer; for his assistance & courtesy enabling me to cover this historic match.