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WHEN THE NEW YORK YANKEES WON THE OPEN CUP
July 27, 2017
By Charles Cuttone
The name New York Yankees is generally associated with winning championships. The baseball team has won 40 American League pennants and 27 World Series.
But the New York Yankees also won the U.S. Open Cup championship in 1931, although they are not recognized by U.S. Soccer as having done so. That honor officially goes to the Fall River Marksmen, who also won the cup in 1924, 1927 and 1930.
It was indeed the Fall River Marksmen who entered the U.S. Open Cup competition in the fall of 1930, but by the time they were competing in the semifinals and the finals, fallout from a soccer war and financial difficulties due to the depression had forced team owner Sam Mark to merge the team with the New York Soccer Club and move it to New York, where it played as the New York Yankees.
The Yankees advanced to the Open Cup final with a 6-1 rout of the Newark Americans in front of a crowd of 8,000 at New York's Polo Grounds.
Bill McPherson began the Yankees onslaught with a goal inside the first minute and another one seven minutes later. Bert Patenaude made it 3-0 before 15 minutes were up, and James White and Billy Gonsalves made it 5-0 before the half was over.
After two successive corners to open the second half, Johnny Rollo finally pulled one back for Newark, but Patenaude added his second of the game for the final count.
The Yankees, like their baseball namesakes, could have been nicknamed the "Bronx Bombers," but for the fact they played at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan. They continued their goal scoring onslaught into the opening game of the Open Cup final against the Chicago Bricklayers on April 5 in front of a crowd of 12,000.
Patenaude, one of the outstanding players of his era and a star on the 1930 United States World Cup team, had perhaps one of the finest individual performances in the history of American soccer that day, scoring five of the Yanks goals, giving them a 3-0 advantage by halftime.
The Brickies came back in the second half, getting goals from Clem Cuthbert and Johnny Greenlees to close the gap to 3-2, but a disallowed goal by Cuthbert, and two more by Patenaude left the result at 6-2.
Scoring was at more of a premium a week later, on April 12, when the two sides met at Mills Stadium in Chicago and played to a 1-1 draw in front of 9,500 fans.
Five minutes before halftime, Yankees captain Alex McNab sent a cross to Gonsalves who headed it past Brickies' goalkeeper Vic Neate to make it 1-0. Neate made a pair of great saves on Gonsalves to open the second half. Chicago got on the board twelve minutes into the half, when Greelees was fouled and fullback Bob Gregg converted the penalty kick. The score remained tied at 1-1 following a 20 minute added period, setting up a third game the following week.
Playing with ten men, because McNab suffered a broken arm in a game the previous day in Detroit, the Yankees took the lead 15 minutes in on another goal by Patenaude, who ripped a shot just out of the reach of Neate. After Patenaude was fouled just outside the area, Gordon Burness scored from close in.
The 2-0 win gave the former Fall River Marksmen their second straight U.S. Open Cup title. The team moved back to Massachusetts in the fall of 1931 and played as the New Bedford Whalers, winning a third straight U.S. Open Cup title in the spring of 1932.