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South Jersey Soccer:
Barons Cup tie will be a Family Affair

Monday, June 14, 2004

By John Thompson
South Jersey Barons Correspondent

On Tuesday 15th June, 2004 it will be the First time in Lamar Hunt US Open Cup history that two brothers have will play against each other. Two brothers from Cape May, Matt and Anthony Maher will line up for the South Jersey Barons (PDL) and Syracuse Salty Dogs (A-League) respectively in the second round of the famous cup competition. The Maher brothers match up will provide added spice to this already exciting cup match for the Barons. The history of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup is riddled with upsets and shocks. The Barons will look to past conquerors like the Mid- Michigan Bucks (Amateur) who in 2000 knocked out the New England Revolution (MLS) in the second round on a memorable run in the competition. Another attraction to this game is the return of Tim O'Neill to the Barons. Timmy played last season for the Barons in the Premier Development League whist still attending college at St. Johns University, there he helped them to the 2003 NCAA national title game. He now plays an important role in the Syracuse midfield. To top it all, the winner of this second round tie will play MLS giants Columbus Crew in Columbus on June 23rd, 2004.

Dating back to 1914, the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup is the oldest cup competition in United States soccer and is among the oldest in the world. Open to all affiliated amateur and professional teams in the United States, the annual US Open Cup is an 90-year-old single-elimination tournament.

In a nutshell, the US Open Cup is very similar to domestic cup competitions popular throughout Europe, South America and the rest of the world. Cup competitions, which usually run concurrent with a country's league season, are open in the early stages to any club that can qualify, giving local amateur teams a chance to compete against the best teams a country has to offer.

In leagues like the English Premier League, the Serie A in Italy and the Bundesliga in Germany, cup competitions are prestigious tournaments waged between a country's strongest teams like Manchester United, AC Milan and Bayern Munich, and smaller teams like Watford F.C. in England, a small-time club that hit it big in 1984 by making it all the way to the F.A. Cup Final. Just two years ago, unfashionable Chesterfield of the Second Division (the third flight in England) advanced to the semi-finals of the 1997 F.A. Cup in England before finally losing. The Barons are counting on one of those famous upsets

Syracuse play two tiers above the Barons in the United Soccer Leagues Premier Division, the A-League. Just one tier down from the MLS the full time professionals as Syracuse will be on a different level to anything the Barons (6-0-1) have seen so far this season.

Syracuse will be quite a formidable team their fist team includes several international stars such as Ian Woman who played a decade of professional soccer in the English Premier League, Rene Rivas who played pro in the Brazilian top flight, Benito Emblem who played in the Dutch Premier Division for NEC Nicene, and with St. Johnstone & Motherwell of the Scottish Premier League. The Barons line up in comparison is compiled of local collegiate players from Temple, Drexel, Penn State, Philadelphia, Rowan and the University of Hartford. The opportunity has presented itself for these local players to put them selves in the shop window so to speak as their collegiate days draw to an end and there dreams of a professional contract begin. These young players have given the Barons their best start to a season (6-0-1) since their inception Barons are relying on youth and enthusiasm to overcome the professionals.

The Baron's biggest game of the season so far will be at Winslow High School, Tarnsboro, NJ on Tuesday 15th June, 2004 at 6.00pm.

Photos provided by John Thompson

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