May 27, 2014
After red card, RSL president watched Italians' Open Cup triumph from the hood of his car in 1991
By Michael Lewis
Not many players can say they watched a good portion of a U.S. Open Cup final while sitting on the hood of their gray Mustang convertible.
After defender Bill Manning was given his marching orders in the first half of the Brooklyn Italians' 1-0 triumph over the Richardson Rockets at Brooklyn College on Aug. 10, 1991, the Real Salt Lake president left the Brooklyn College field and stadium and walked into the parking lot.
"I brought my car around," Manning said. "I wound up sitting on the hood of my car watching the game with my girlfriend who is actually my wife now."
After some nervous moments in a tight game, Manning returned to the stadium afterward on that hot summer afternoon to celebrate with his teammates. It was the Italians' second Open Cup title and last one in club history.
"I was happy," he said. "We lost in the finals the year before. We were pretty dominant. We had set our minds to win that thing. Happy from that standpoint, a little bittersweet because I was unable to be on the field for the whole game. We did go up 1-0 when I was in the game, so that was a good thing."
The bad thing was that Manning was red carded by referee Steve Olson in the 23rd minute with Brooklyn leading, 1-0. According to published reports, the foul appeared to be an obstruction, certainly not a red-card offense.
"I still remember the ref, Steve Olson. I still remember the player. It was Alan Pamprin, who wound up playing in MLS," Manning said. "The ball got shot through and we both chased for it. We were jostling. It was around when they [FIFA] came out with impeding the breakaway. I remember a straight red. That was brutal."
As it turned out, Olson became executive of Minnesota Youth Soccer, Manning the president and general manager of the Minnesota Thunder.
He held no grudges.
"We developed a friendship," Manning said. "He said, 'Yeah, I was a little too quick on that one.' "
At 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Italians will be in back the spotlight again when they battle the New York Cosmos in the third round of the competition, since renamed the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup, at Belson Stadium on the campus of St. John's University in Jamaica, Queens.
Manning, a native of Massapequa, N.Y., won't be able to attend the match due to his responsibilities with RSL, but his heart will be with Brooklyn.
"I had some of my best soccer memories with that team, the Brooklyn Italians," he said. "It was a really good group of guys. We played really good soccer, had some dynamic players, had some players who played at some really high levels. ... That was a fun team."
This current Brooklyn side has acquitted itself well this spring, having won four games, three in the National Premier Soccer League and one in the Open Cup.
Manning said not to count out the Italians.
"The magic thing about the U.S. Open Cup is that anyone can beat anyone," he said. "At Real Salt Lake we lost to a minor league team [from] Minnesota, 3-1 at home. You never know. I'm a big fan of the U.S. Open Cup because it gives the Cinderella stories a chance to thrive.
"Brooklyn, do they have a chance? Of course they have a chance. If you played it over 10 games, you're probably looking at the Cosmos winning eight, losing one and tying one, something like that. In a one-off, you never know. It's one of those games where if Brooklyn can hang in the game long enough and steal a goal or something, all of sudden they win the thing 1-0. That's what's so special about the U.S. Open Cup."