Rhinos Knock Off Fourth MLS Team, Drop Rapids 2-0 to Win 1999 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final in Columbus
CHICAGO (Tuesday, September 14, 1999) - The A-League's Rochester Raging Rhinos completed their dramatic run to the Open Cup title by downing the Colorado Rapids, 2-0, to win the 1999 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title in front of a pro-Rochester crowd of 4,455 in Columbus. The improbable victory marked the first time in the tournament's last four years that a non-MLS team has won the tournament. The impressive win was the Rhinos' fourth consecutive against a Major League Soccer team and helped the Rhinos avenge their 3-0 loss to D.C. United in the 1996 U.S. Open Cup Final.
Rhinos reserve forward Doug Miller, who entered the game in the 62nd minute, scored the crucial game-winning goal just four minutes later to stun the Rapids. The play began when Rochester midfielder Bill Sedgewick tracked down a deflected clearance near the left corner. He then fed a square pass to Miller, who turned and calmly slotted the ball under the legs of lunging Colorado goalkeeper Ian Feuer from point-blank range. Miller, who was the A-League's leading scorer and Most Valuable Player in 1997 but has been relegated to coming off the bench during the last two seasons, was named the game 's Most Valuable Player.
The Rhinos held on for the remainder of the match and scored the clinching goal in the opening seconds of stoppage time. Second-half sub Carlos Zavala fired a cross from the same corner of the field to reserve midfielder Mike Kirmse, who headed the ball backwards to the feet of captain Yari Allnutt, who found himself unmarked directly in front of the box. Allnutt made a single touch on the ball before putting it past Feuer to begin the celebration for the Rochester players and fans.
The Rapids, who entered the match as the #1-ranked team of the 32 that qualified, controlled much of the play in the first half, outshooting the Rhinos 7-0 with less than 30 minutes played. But the Rhinos came charging back and registered three decent chances before going into the half tied at zero.
Tonight's match was the first A-League vs. MLS final since 1996, ironically when the first-year Rhinos made their only other U.S. Open Cup final appearance. MLS teams have dominated the tournament since they entered the competition and also won the '97 and '98 titles, but the A-League has owned this year, finishing this year's Open Cup competition with a 6-4 record.
Having advanced to the second round of the playoffs with a 2-1 win over Lehigh Valley this weekend, the Rhinos could become the fourth team in the last five years to win the "double" (winning league and Open Cup titles) if they win the A-League Championship on October 16. The Richmond Kickers of United Soccer League's Premier League were the first to accomplish the feat in 1995, with D.C. United and the Chicago Fire following suit in 1996 and 1998, respectively.
After the game, the Rhinos were presented the prestigious Dewar Cup trophy, which stands as the official U.S. Open Cup trophy. Dating back to 1914, the Dewar Cup is the oldest trophy in American sports and is on display at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y.
ROCHESTER RAGING RHINOS
Pat Ercoli, Head Coach:
"You saw two great teams tonight. It was a very competitive match .. fought well from both sides. I knew it would come down to a situation to whoever finished their opportunities would win."
"Obviously we're a quality team and a quality organization. We've got a great following and hopefully MLS will listen and realize that the community of Rochester, if we get a stadium, deserves a team."
"We've preached 'Defense wins championships,' and it's been evident in the last two years."
"Winning the Open Cup is obviously an indication that we're one of the best teams out there. But we would be defeating ourselves if we didn't win the A-League. If we want to win the double (with the A-League and the Open Cup titles), it's important for us to do that."
Doug Miller, forward:
"It was a great win for Rochester. I'm just happy to be a part of it. The guys have been working hard all summer. It's a big step for us."
"It took us four (MLS) teams to come here, and we showed a lot of the teams that we're a good caliber team."
"For the franchise to have fans like these, it just goes to show that when a community gets behind a team, how far it can drive a team. They've driven us for four years and you've seen our success."
"I think a lot of people doubted Rochester coming into this, but the guys in the locker room and the owners and the coaches, we never doubted it for a second. This has been part of our goal from the get-go. We've obtained half of our goal, and the other half is the A-League Championship. We've got some work to do, but for now, it's time to celebrate."
"I think we're the best team of the century right now."
Glenn "Mooch" Myernick, Head Coach:
"It's the same feeling. You get a chance to play for a national championship, and you lose. It's very disappointing. But congratulations to Rochester. I think they're a team of destiny. To beat four teams in our league, they deserve to be the champions."
On the importance and stature of the Open Cup:
"I hope that with each year it will grow and grow. I hope that for those other teams that haven't had the inclination to enter for whatever reason, it gives them cause to join.
1999 LAMAR HUNT OPEN CUP FINAL GAME REPORT
|Participants:||Colorado Rapids (MLS) vs. Rochester Raging Rhinos (A-League)|
|Competition:||1999 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final|
|Venue:||Columbus Crew Stadium (Columbus, Ohio)|
|Date:||Tuesday, Sept. 14, 1999|
|Weather:||65 degrees - Clear, Cool|
RCH - Doug Miller, (Bill Sedgewick), 66,
RCH - Yari Allnutt, (Michael Kirmse), 90.
COL - 24-Ian Feuer, 6-Peter Vermes (Capt.), 17-Marcelo Balboa, 8-Tim Martin (13-Wolde Harris, 81), 7-David Vaudreil, 2-Matt McKeon, 20-Ross Paule, 23-Kevin Anderson (22-Joey DiGimarino, 58), 16-Darren Sawatzky (5-Jason Bent, 76), 9-Paul Bravo, 11-Jorge Dely Valdes.
RCH - 25-Pat Onstad, 27-Tim Hardy, 3-Craig Demmin (12-Michael Kirmse, 51), 4-Scott Schweitzer, 2-Andrew Restrepo, 6-Mali Walton, 11-Bill Sedgewick, 20-Mauro Biello, 10-Yari Allnutt, 7-Nate Daligcon (58-Carlos Zavala, 83), 26-Darren Tilley (19-Doug Miller, 62).