By Michael Lewis
MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. — Of the 26 first-round games of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, perhaps no confrontation was more wild or crazy that the Long Island Rough Riders-Kingston Stockade FC match-up.
Nine goals, five scored in extratime.
A two-goal comeback in the second half.
Four yellow cards and two reds, leaving both sides with 10 men at John J. Burns Park.
The Rough Riders survived the physical encounter, recording a 6-3 victory that was played in a mist that bordered on a fog by the time the game ended around 10:30 p.m.
“Wild is correct,” Rough Riders head coach Stephen Roche said. “It was a great game, I’m sure very good for the neutrals to watch. Not so much from the coaches’ point of view.”
Definitely not very good for Stockade FC, which had enjoyed a two-goal lead early in the second half before Long Island rallied to force extratime. Kingston was hurt when Bernardo Mattos was awarded his second yellow card of the match in the 90th minute, forcing the National Premier Soccer League side to start the first extratime period with 10 players.
That did not help head coach David Lindholm, who already had lost two starters to injury during the match.
“I told our guys we had 105 minutes in us, we didn’t have 120,” Lindholm said, referring to the first scoreless extra period. “Giving up four goals in the last 15 minutes you could see we were totally out of gas.
“It was a game where we were doing what we wanted. We had two injuries and a red card. You just sort of shake your head and hope to turn the page.”
The Rough Riders had many heroes. Charlie Ladula struck twice in the second extratime. Tyler Botte had a goal in regulation and added an insurance goal in ET after he had to come out of the match due to a cut eye.
“It shows we’ve got great character,” Roche said. “We continued to play, we didn’t panic. We go two-nil down against a very good side. And to be able to come back and play really well and win the game, it’s got to give us huge confidence.”
Stockade FC had plenty of confidence early on.
Bruce Jeter scored in the 11th minute and Michael Creswick added a goal in the 52nd minute to give Kingston a 2-0 advantage over the Premier Development League team.
For most of the second half, the Riders late siege to the visitors’ goal as the ball whizzed in front of the net on countless occasions.
“We had most of the possession,” Roche said. “It would have been very harsh on us if we had not gotten back into the game.”
Botte tallied pulled one back in the 55th minute and Tom Wharf found the equalizer in the 81st minute.
“We came out in the second half and tried to soak up pressure,” Lindholm said. “Things turned for us when these guys had to go out of the game and you are forced into changes you weren’t expecting. It’s a really difficult thing to deal as a team. I thought we dealt with it for as long as we could.”
Stockade FC’s Bernardo Mattos was awarded his second yellow card in the 90th minute, setting up a wild extratime.
Junior Rosero snapped a 2-2 deadlock as he drilled a hard shot from outside the penalty area in the 107th minute.
“They had to push for the equalizer and the rest of the goals started to come,” Roche said.
In the same minute, defender Shaun Foster was given his marching orders for incurring his second yellow card of the match for celebrating the goal.
That left both teams with 10 players, but it didn’t stop the Riders.
Ladula tallied in the 112th minute to give Long Island a 4-2 advantage.
Botte, returning after that eye injury, scored his second goal of the match to give the hosts some more breathing room only a minute later.
Kingston answered back with a Mateusz Koziol penalty kick to cut the lead to 5-3.
But Ladula struck yet again in the 120th minute to seal the victory.
“Credit to Kingston,” Roche said. “They were excellent today. They gave us everything we expected, a very difficult side. They outcompeted us for a large portion of the game. I told the guys at halftime that if we don’t match competitively, we’re not going to be in the next round of the cup. I think we stepped it up in the second half and it became a better game. We took over the game in the second half and it got a bit wild after the sending off.”
Roche said the Riders will ask for Foster’s red card to be overturned for next Wednesday’s second round encounter at Louisville FC (United Soccer League).
“He is obviously instrumental to everything we do,” he said. “He is not only a player, he’s here as a coach. Even though he didn’t play great in the first half, he probably limited the damage. Then in the second half he got us going again. He’s a leader, he’s excellent. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get that decision reversed.”