Staten Island Vipers vs. MetroStars
1999 U.S. Open Cup – 3rd Round
July 13, 1999
United Soccer Leagues Programs
Rare program and press notes (downloads below) from the 1999 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, American’s oldest nationwide soccer competition. Started in 1914 as the National Challenge Cup, ethnically-based amateur and semi-pro clubs dominated the competition for most of the 20th century. As late as 1994, the Cup final was contested by Greek-American A.C. of San Francisco and Bavarian Leinenkugel of Milwaukee.
All that changed in 1995 when professional teams from the A-League entered the competition. Two A-League clubs, the Richmond Kickers and the El Paso Patriots, dispatched the amateur qualifiers and advanced to the final, with Richmond taking home the Cup.
With the formation of Major League Soccer in 1996, American had a proper 1st Division pro league for the first time in twelve years. MLS embraced the U.S. Open Cup (unlike the NASL of the 1960’s – 1980’s, whose clubs never took part). From 1996 to present, Major League Soccer clubs have won every Open Cup tournament, with the exception of 1999, when the 2nd Division Rochester Raging Rhinos won the tournament, upsetting four MLS teams along the way.
This program comes from the 3rd round of that same tournament and this match marked the first of many MLS upsets in the 1999 brackets. Well, maybe not that big an upset in this case. The MetroStars of Major League Soccer were 5-12 in league play at the time and slogging through a horrid season under manager Bora Milutinovic that would ultimately end with a league-worst 7-25 record. Their opponent was the Staten Island Vipers, a two-year old A-League club who were having a terrific campaign in the 2nd Division. The match was technically a home game for the New Jersey-based Metros, but the modest ticket sales for Open Cup matches didn’t justify opening the club’s normal home at 76,000-seat Giants Stadium in East Rutherford. Instead, the MetroStars rented 5,000-seat Yurcak Field in Piscataway. Only 1,077 die hards showed up.
The Vipers seized the initiative early, taking a 1-0 lead in the first half and then earning a man advantage when MetroStars forward Eduardo Hurtado was sent off for a flagrant foul in the 53rd minute. But the MetroStars battled back in the second half, scoring two goals after going a man down to take a 2-1 lead late. Both MetroStars goals came off the foot of midfielder Billy Walsh, a former New Jersey prep star returning to Yurcak Field where he starred as a collegian at Rutgers. But then the MetroStars imploded in typical fashion, conceding a late equalizer to minor league war horse Lee Tschantret to send the match into overtime. Five minutes into the extra period, Staten Island’s Kevin Wilson scored on a breakaway goal to bounce the MetroStars out of the Open Cup.
The Open Cup upset was likely the high point of the short, obscure history of the Staten Island Vipers. They would lose their next Open Cup match – the quarterfinal round – to another 2nd Division club, the Charleston (SC) Battery. At the end of the 1999 season, the Vipers’ owners folded the team after only two seasons of play.
July 13, 1999 MetroStars Game Notes
July 13, 1999 Staten Island Vipers Game Notes
July 13, 1999 U.S. Soccer Open Cup Tournament Notes