Thursday, October 17, 2013

17 October 1948 - US Open Cup Victory Comes At A Cost

On 17 October 1948, Simpkins-Ford won the US Open Cup against Brookhattan in a final that featured several players who went on to star for the US in the 1950 World Cup.

Simpkins had converted from amateur status only the previous year when they joined the semi-professional St. Louis Major Soccer League. They struggled in that first season, which ran from 1947 to 1948, finishing third out of four teams, but fared better in the National Challenge Cup, which had just be rechristened as the US Open Cup, advancing to the final.

There, they faced the American Soccer League's Brookhattan Galicia, winners of a league and National Challenge Cup double in 1945.

Playing at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, the teams were level at 2-2 late in the match with goals from Bill Bertani and Frank Wallace (pictured) for Simpkins and from Joe Gaetjens and Rodolfo Llana for Brookhattan. Then, in the 89th minute, Simpkins got the game-winner from Henry Merlo to take the Cup.

It didn't all end well for Simpkins, though. After the game, Brookhattan submitted a claim to the USFA asking that Simpkins reimburse them for their travel expenses to the final. Simpkins had offered to pay their way by train, but Brookhattan took a plane instead and wanted Simpkins to cover the $1,500 cost. The dispute led all St. Louis clubs to boycott the 1949 tournament, but they reconciled for 1950, when Simpkins again won the Cup.

In addition to Gaetjens, who scored the famous winner against England in the 1950 World Cup, and Wallace, who also played in that game, four other Simpkins players from the 1948 US Open Cup final were part of that US team--Robert Annis, Gino Pariani, Charlie Colombo, and Frank Borghi.

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