When the Philadelphia Union take the field to warm up for the U.S. Open Cup final in Houston later this month, they’ll be paying homage to some Pennsylvania history in one of the oldest soccer competitions in the world.
The Philadelphia Union will be honoring the 1916 Bethlehem Steel team that won the US Open Cup, wearing warm-up kits before the with the logo of the Steel team.
Honoring @opencup tradition. Our warmup includes the logo @BSteelFC wore when they won it all in 1916: https://t.co/2begPRQ7ou— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) September 12, 2018
Pick yours up exclusively in the Union Shop on Saturday - it's the @Fanatics Item of the Match. pic.twitter.com/vZUgGsfsKI
The Bethlehem Steel were one of the most successful soccer teams in the early days of the US Open Cup. The club is honoring the success of the 1916 team, which was the first team to win both the US Open Cup and the American Football Association Cup. The Steel would go on to win both trophies again in 1918 and 1919.
The Steel were sponsored by the Bethlehem Steel company, and they recruited workers who could help the soccer team as well, foreshadowing the eventual professionalism of the game in America. However, as the Great Depression started, the Steel folded. The original Steel played their last game in 1930.
The Philadelphia Union choosing to honor the history of the original Bethlehem Steel is a good nod to the history of soccer in the region. The Steel, five-time winners, are just one of the many area clubs to have lifted the trophy. The Philadelphia Ukrainians won it four times and the Philadelphia-based American Soccer League team Uhrik Truckers captured the trophy in 1936. As a state, Pennsylvania has captured the third most trophies with 14 behind California (15) and New York (26).
The Philadelphia area, along with St Louis and Fall River, Mass, was one of the hotbeds of American soccer before the sport lost popularity, and company sponsorship, during the Great Depression.
The Union also have replica warm-ups available in the Union Club Shop at Talen Energy Stadium, where they will be exclusively sold starting tomorrow before the match against the Montreal Impact. It’s a chance to honor the soccer past and the soccer present and the kits look pretty good as well.