Friday, December 24, 2010

The best two teams in US Soccer, a completely unbiased take, and So What Exactly Is The Coffee Pot Cup?

    Christmas may be tomorrow, and sure we've been awaiting our gifts and surprises with great anticipation...But for me, my present comes in March. It comes to me in three parts. Three glorious nights in which to see my two favorite teams battle it out in the preseason and add another page or two in the soccer history books.
    After a season that on one hand was absolutely amazing and again (as in 1996 and 2003) showed the quality of both the organization and the players of the Charleston Battery by winning the USL-2 league in fine fashion. Those of us in the Lowcountry are very lucky to have such a fine stadium and team to support.
    The second season for me, or the other hand, is the one that has been scalded, stomped on, and almost completely chopped off.  With the trouble the my beloved DC United were in over the last two seasons, no one could have imagined the absolute breakdown in competent decision making from the Coaching Staff to the Front Office. With the dismissal of the coach, and what translated (to me) as the complete lack of passion on the field from the became very easy to utilize my DirectKick package from DirecTV and watch another team like, I don't know...LA or NYRB!?!?!  Yes, that's almost blasphemy. But dammit, I had to get my soccer fix somewhere, and DC was not cutting it.  Better to watch the skillful finishing of Edson Buddle and the masterful play of Joel Lindpere, rather than continue to bang my head against the wall.  But...let us focus on where we are now. It all starts right here. It starts now with the offseason moving and shaking we see throughout MLS with the Expansion Draft, the first and second installments of the Re-Entry Draft, and the Superdraft (soon to be here on Jan. 13 @ noon in Baltimore).  The Expansion Draft pickup of Dax McCarty
The signing of Josh Wolff, a hero to USMNT fans;
the Re-Entry Draft aquisition of a veteran striker in Joseph Ngwenya;
the muti-year contract signing of our Homegrown talent, and ROTY, Andy Najar; The addition of a top notch Goalie coach in Pat Onstadt; and most importantly the signing of the man that all other men came to fear in MLS for ten years, #14 in our playbook but #1 in our hearts, the one and only, the man with the Heart of a Lion, the man they called Benny, the soul and strength and leader of DC United...BEN OLSEN as our head coach. (yes, i have a man-crush and i don't care who knows it) 
 Insert Chant Here: WE LOVE YOU OLSEN
[tune: We Love You Conrad (Bye Bye Birdie)]
We love you Olsen
Oh yes we do
We love you Olsen, it's true
When you're not near us, we're blue
Oh Olsen, we love you

We are making the moves to become a strong team that will once again find our way to the MLS Cup.  Sometimes you have got to hit rock bottom to find your way back to the top. Watch out MLS. So when March rolls around, you will find me cheering with The Regiment for the Battery when they play the likes of Chicago and Toronto. But I must warn you. I Bleed Black and Red. And no matter how much I have grown to love my Lowcountry home, my life, my friends, and the Charleston Battery..........Here's One More Chant For You:
[tune: Farmer in the Dell]
United till I die
United till I die
I know I am
I'm sure I am
United till I die

Carolina Challenge Cup, A History:
 (All information pulled from Wikipedia)

The Carolina Challenge Cup is a four-team round robin pre-season competition hosted by the Charleston Battery. It was started in 2004 and features teams from Major League Soccer and the United Soccer Leagues. The Columbus Crew edged out D.C. United on goal differential to win the 2004 competition, while the San Jose Earthquakes won the 2005 competition. San Jose's second iteration (although a separate team), the Houston Dynamo, won the 2006 and 2007 versions. The San Jose Earthquakes again won the tournament on their return to the MLS in 2008 while Real Salt Lake claimed the title in their debut in 2009.
Over the first few years of the tournament, the champion had gone on to win one of the two year-end MLS trophies, the MLS Supporters' Shield or MLS Cup. This streak ended in 2008 as San Jose Earthquakes failed to make the playoffs, consequently missing out on both titles

Coffee Pot Cup
A highlight of the competitions that have been held so far is the Coffee Pot Cup, a game between D.C. United and the host Charleston Battery, making it a rare example of an MLS-USL team rivalry. The history behind this comes from a postgame incident after the Third Round of the 1999 U.S. Open Cup, where Charleston pulled a shocking 4-3 extra time upset at home over D.C. A news report from then:
"D.C. United apparently used the visitors' locker room to vent its frustration over losing to the Charleston Battery in last Wednesday's US Open Cup match at Blackbaud Stadium here. Members of the Major League Soccer team smashed two coffee pots and pulled off some showerheads, according to Battery officials. 'I think a bill will be sent to them,' Battery general manager Buckley Andrews said earlier this week. The US Soccer Federation website's match report on Charleston's 4-3 overtime win over the two-time MLS champion called it 'one of the biggest upsets ever seen in American soccer history ... It will surely go down as an Open Cup classic.'"
After a few years, supporters of both sides in the name of spirited competition decided to have an actual Coffee Pot played for between the sides as a friendly wager. The winner has the other team's supporters fill the Cup with beer for the winning team's supporters to enjoy. Supporters of both sides say that whenever the two sides play, they are playing for the Coffee Pot Cup (the two sides could meet in the U.S. Open Cup if drawn together, or in an arranged friendly). The inaugural winners of the Cup in 2004 were D.C. United after winning 2-1. In 2005 and 2006, the two teams played to a tie (2-2, 1-1), meaning no one had to pay for the beer to fill the Cup, but D.C. maintained possession.
Mainly due to their commitment to play in the CONCACAF Champions' Cup, D.C. United were unable to play in the 2007 and 2008 versions of the tournament.
Most recently the teams competed in the final of the 2008 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, as D.C. United defeated Charleston 2-1 on September 3, 2008 at RFK Stadium.
  • 2004, Carolina Challenge Cup: D.C. United 2, Charleston Battery 1
  • 2005, Carolina Challenge Cup: D.C. United 2, Charleston Battery 2
  • 2006, Carolina Challenge Cup: D.C. United 1, Charleston Battery 1
  • 2006, Cary, NC Friendly: D.C. United 2, Charleston Battery 0
  • 2008, US Open Cup: D.C. United 2, Charleston Battery 1
  • 2009, Carolina Challenge Cup: D.C. United 2, Charleston Battery 0
  • 2010, Carolina Challenge Cup: D.C. United 2, Charleston Battery 0

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