This 103rd eddition of the US Open Cup continues with round 4 on Wednesday. It is a tournament that puts all American teams on an equal playing field regardless of division or payroll in an attempt to present one champion with $250,000 and piece of soccer history. The Indy Eleven will travel to Illinois on Wednesday to continue their quest and to face the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park.
There is another much newer cup up for grabs, and it is poured from even more tradition than the Lamar Hunt Trophy. It is younger prize that honors the past but represents the future of American supporter culture. It is the unintended creation and simultaneous celebration of one man on a mission to carve this great country's soccer landscape with sheer will and determination.
It is known as the The Schlabst Cup.
Its roots can be traced back to a Midwestern town with German ancestry and a proud brewing heritage. Milwaukee is the birthplace of two fine beers that have served America well over the last sesquicentennial. Schlitz and Pabst are libations with beginnings that can be traced back to a time long before the American Civil War and as early as 1844. Those aforementioned beverages combine together to make something greater than the sum of their two equal parts...
The Milwaukee Black and Tan is also affectionately and colloquially known as Schlabst for it's two sole ingredients. An empty is glass is filled halfway with Schlitz and then topped by PBR, but never the other way lest your resulting concoction be called a Pitz...and nobody wants to drink a Pitz.
Peter Wilt was there at the beginning and I don't just mean that one fateful day at the Highbury Pub when the first Schlabst was poured. Peter was also there at the inception of both the Chicago Fire and the Indy Eleven. He was the founding president of each club. Worlds and beers are now colliding and we find ourselves in the midst of another creation point. It's our own Peter Wilt Big Bang Theory. Wednesday marks the first time that these two clubs will face each other in meaningful competition and the US Open Cup will provide the spark.
Truthfully, this will not be the first contest between the two clubs. That meeting was a preseason friendly on neutral territory in 2014 and the Fire came away victorious. Their supporters are currently in possession of the actual Schlabst Cup and the two teams have not met again since. The Indy Eleven and the Brickyard Battalion have been waiting for this moment and for this rivalry since Peter Wilt first came to town and when the team was announced in 2013. The US Open Cup is the only way they two teams can meet in this fashion and the matchup will be a highlight in this round of the tournament.
More than 200 Indy faithful are reported to be making the trip on Wednesday. They will be cheering the boys in blue as they did two weeks ago when the Eleven defeated Louisville City in round three. In a testament to the good spirit between the fans of the teams, the Cup is once again up for grabs as well as a donation to charity. The winning supporters will be awarded the Schlabst Cup as well as the proceeds from the first ever Schlabst Cup T-Shirt sales. These teams now have a lot more to play for than just a 100 year old tournament. They will play for pride and for bragging rights of their supporters as well as whatever awaits them in the following rounds. This game belongs to the fans. The re-configured hockey trophy belongs to the winners.
The Brickyard Battalion will be donating to Playworks Indiana in conjunction with the #EamonZayedRule and Section 8 will be donating to the Lampstrong Foundation. Peter Wilt has no official connection to either club, but he will be seen sharing the competition with both of his "children" in Bridgeview. American soccer is the winner on the day. A lot of history is to be made.