After playing to a 4-4 tie Red Bulls U-23’s won the shootout, 5-3. (Photo courtesy of the Red Bulls)
MONTCLAIR, N.J. – In a wild and wooly game that seemingly had just about everything the Red Bulls’ Under-23 team managed to survive a lengthy rain delay, 120 minutes of non-stop action and a shootout to avenge last year’s elimination from the competition by FC Motown Tuesday night.
The Red Bulls’ U-23’s won the shootout, 5-3, after playing to a wild 4-4 draw at rain-drenched MSU Soccer Park in Montclair, N.J. Last year the National Premier Soccer League side defeated the U-23’s by a 2-1 score. Red Bulls goalkeeper Marcelin Gohier save Markus Hackett’s penalty-kick attempt before Sal Esposito converted his chance to lift the hosts into the second round.
Only three minutes after kickoff, FC Motown drew first blood. Overlapping left back Jean Voltaire crossed the ball into the box to Joe Fala, whose point-blank header was saved by Gohier. The rebound, however, went right back to Fala, who slotted the ball home with his left foot for a 1-0 lead for the visitors.
J.P. Marin, however, equalized with a header at the near post past keeper David Greczek after a right-wing cross in the 18th minute for the USL League Two squad. Brian Saramongo boosted the Red Bulls into a 2-1 edge in the 25th minute, drilling a 22-yard blast that Greczek got a hand on, but could not stop from entering the net. Omar Sowe, off a Saramongo feed, gave the hosts some breathing from as he scored from nine yards, putting the ball through Greczek’s legs in the 59th minute.
Life looked grim for Motown, but second-half substitute Kene Eze pushed his team back into convention with a goal, scoring from the top of the box in the 70th minute before he set up Cameron Vickers, who knocked the ball into an open net from close range in the 72nd minute.
The Red Bulls U-23’s retook the lead on Jeciel Cedeno’s goal in the 110th minute, but with the final whistle of the run of play looming, Maximiliano Garcia connected from the top of the box. Former MLS defender RJ Allen sent a pass from the right side that Matt Nigro, the 2018 NPSL MVP dummied, allowing Garcia to score in the 119th minute.
FC Motown played without a few regulars, including high-scoring striker Chris Katona, who was not on the roster due to a paperwork error.
The Red Bulls U-23’s will visit Memphis 901 FC (USL Championship) for a second-round match at AutoZone Park in Memphis, Tenn. on Tuesday, May 15 at 8 p.m. ET.