The first major cupset of the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup was achieved by Open Division amateurs Florida Soccer Soldiers, who beat Division II (USL Championship) professionals Charlotte Independence in a penalty shootout Tuesday night.
Soccer Soldiers, out of Miami Beach, already took down former NASL pros Miami FC in the First Round and will face the winner of North Carolina FC (USL Championship) or Richmond Kickers (USL League One) in the Third Round.
Despite valiant efforts from a host of Open Division sides on the night, Soccer Soldiers were the only amateurs to advance on the opening night of the Second Round as USL Championship sides won the eight other matches of the evening.
In the Northeast Region, PittsburghRiverhounds SC exploded in the second half for a 3-0 win vs. Dayton Dutch Lions, while tournament debutants, Hartford Athletic recorded their first Open Cup win as a club with a 2-1 win against New York Cosmos B.
Down the coast in the Southeast Region, Tampa Bay Rowdies dispatched amateurs The Villages 4-1, while Nashville SC scraped by USL League Two amateurs South Georgia Tormenta FC 2 by a 3-2 scoreline. And in the Central Region, Austin Bold FC and San Antonio FC grabbed 2-0 wins, while OKC Energy also won by a two-goal margin 3-1 against 2018 giant-killers NTX Rayados.
Out West in perhaps the most anticipated match of the opening night of the Second Round, Las Vegas Lights FC and manager Eric Wynalda defeated amateur side Cal FC, who he guided on an epic run in the 2012 edition of America’s longest-running soccer competition.
The magic of the U.S. Open Cup continues in the last week of May when the 22 Second Round winners face off on May 29 for the right to face Division I (Major League Soccer) clubs when they enter the tournament in the Fourth Round on June 11-12.
U.S. Soccer will conduct the draw to determine the Fourth Round match-ups on Thursday, May 30. All the U.S. Open Cup Third and Fourth Round games will be available to watch live on ESPN+.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (USL Championship) 3, Dayton Dutch Lions (USL League Two) 0
Forward Neco Brett struck twice within a 12-minute span to power the Pittsburgh Riverhounds to a 3-0 victory over the Dayton Dutch Lions at Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pa. Brett gave the Riverhounds all the scoring they needed as he converted a 57th-minute penalty kick after he was taken down in the box. In the 69th minute, Brett fired in a shot from atop the right side of the penalty area after a brilliant run from the midfield into the box by Anthony Velarde for a 2-0 advantage. Velarde gave Pittsburgh some more breathing room with the final goal in second-half stoppage time. Goalkeeper Austin Pack recorded the clean sheet. The Riverhounds will welcome the winner of the game between Indy Eleven (USL Championship) and Lansing Ignite FC (USL League One) in a Third Round match at Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pa. on May 29.
Hartford Athletic (USL Championship) 2, New York Cosmos B (NPSL) 1
Hartford Athletic survived a second-half surge by New York Cosmos B (National Premier Soccer League) and eight minutes of stoppage time to register its first win of the year, a 2-1 triumph at Al-Marzook Field at the University of Hartford on Tuesday night. Hartford (0-9-1) entered the game in last place in the 18-team Eastern Conference. The hosts drew first blood in the 16th minute as right back Harry Swartz tallied his first professional goal, slotting home a left-wing feed from atop the right side of the penalty area past goalkeeper Santiago Castano. After Cosmos forward Aaron Dennis was awarded a yellow card for fouling Raymond Lee, Hartford doubled its lead in the 25th minute when Mads Jorgensen sent a one-bouncer off a free kick to the near post around a two-man wall for a 2-0 margin. Cosmos B came out with much more energy in the second half. The visitors were rewarded in the 57th minute when striker Bledi Bardic, who connected for the game-winning goal in the 2-1 first-round win against Black Rock FC last week, connected on a highlight reel goal as he drilled a 35-yard shot into the upper 90 in the right corner past goalkeeper Jacob Lissek. Lissek endured a busy final half and injury time, but he and his teammates managed to stave off Cosmos B. Hartford will play its third-round match away, against the winner of Wednesday night’s second-round encounter between Memphis 901 FC (USL Championship) and the New York Red Bulls Under-23 team (USL League Two) on May 29.
Charlotte Independence (USL Championship) 1, Florida Soccer Soldiers (Fla.) 1, 2-2 AET (4-5 PKs)
In a game that had just about everything, the Florida Soccer Soldiers of the amateur United Premier Soccer League pulled off the biggest Cupset of the 2019 U.S. Open Cup with a stunning comeback performance against Division II pros Charlotte Independence at the Mecklenburg County Sportsplex in Matthews, N.C. On the brink of elimination in the second extra-time period while playing a man down, the Soccer Soldiers managed to equalize at 2-2 on a 119th-minute goal by Valentin Sabella after a Charlotte mistake. The visitors then prevailed in the shootout, 5-4. After Sabella converted the go-ahead penalty kick, goalkeeper Bryan Martin, who scored on Florida’s first penalty, saved Charlotte captain Enzo Martinez’s attempt to cap the stunning result. That made two major surprises in a week for the Soccer Soldiers, who knocked off Miami FC (National Premier Soccer League) in the opening round.
The game was a wild and wooly affair as 12 yellow cards, eight on Florida, were handed out. The visitors were forced to play the extra-time period a man down after Antonioni Gonzalez was given his marching orders for his second yellow card of the game. Hugh Roberts gave the Independence a 31st-minute edge, but Adolfo Suazo knotted things up for Florida in the 78th minute. Two minutes into extra-time and Charlotte with a man advantage, former MLS forward Dominic Oduro gave the hosts the lead yet again but they couldn’t hold it. Sabella stole a back-pass, went around goalkeeper Curtis Anderson and waited for defenders to make their move before depositing the ball into the net from close range. The Soccer Soldiers will hit the road again in the Third Round where they will meet the North Carolina FC (USL Championship)-Richmond Kickers (USL League One) winner on May 29.
Tampa Bay Rowdies (USL Championship) 4, The Villages SC (USL League Two) 1
Zack Steinberger scored one goal and assisted on two others to lead the Tampa Bay Rowdies to a 4-1 victory over The Village SC at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla. Tampa Bay, which set a modern era club record with its 11th consecutive game unbeaten, struck twice within a two-minute span just before halftime to take control of the match. Steinberger got the hosts going in the 43rd minute as Mohamed Kone headed home his cross past goalkeeper Jerfesson Rodrigues Santana. Barely two minutes later, Steinberger celebrated a goal of his own off an Antoine Hoppenot feed. Steinberger turned playmaker again in the 62nd minute as Brandon Allen scored off his second assist for a commanding 3-0 edge. Vandyke Gyau averted a shutout for The Villages SC by finding the net in the 89th minute past goalkeeper Christopher Konopka. Leon Taylor restored the three-goal lead in second-half injury time. Rowdies Academy product Robbie Soronellas made his debut with the first team, coming on for David Najem at halftime. The Rowdies will visit OKC Energy (USL Championship) in a Third Round encounter at John Crain Field (Univ. of Oklahoma) in Norman, Okla. on May 29 at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Nashville SC 3 (USL Championship), South Georgia Tormenta FC 2 (USL League Two) 2
It was a Winn-win situation for Nashville SC, who defeated South Georgia Tormenta 2, 3-2, at Dean A. Hayes Track and Soccer Stadium on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Alan Winn scored one goal and set up two others. Ropapa Mensah and Cameron Lancaster also found the net for the winning side. The hosts struck first in the eighth minute as Mensah, off a Winn feed, slid the ball past the goalkeeper. They doubled their lead in the 32nd minute as Winn scored off a long lob pass from Bolu Akinyode. South Georgia, however, wouldn’t go gently into the Tennessee night. Adrian Billhardt took advantage of a miscommunication and beat goalkeeper Connor Sparrow to slice the lead in half three minutes into the second period. Nashville restored their two-goal lead in the 52nd minute behind Lancaster’s clinical finish off Winn’s cross. That goal was needed because James Meehan scored off a header in the 68th minute to give the pros a scare over the final 20 minutes. Nashville will play the winner of Wednesday night’s match between Charleston Battery and Greenville Triumph SC in the Third Round at Hayes Stadium on May 29 at 8:30 p.m. ET.
OKC Energy (USL Championship) 3, NTX Rayados (Texas) 1
Christian Eissele and former Jamaican international Je-Vaughn Watson converted penalty kicks in the waning moments to snap a 1-1 deadlock as OKC Energy registered a 3-1 win over NTX Rayados at John Craig Soccer Field on the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman, Okla. Eissele drilled a left-footed shot home from the penalty spot to lift OKC into a 2-1 lead in the 81st minute after Amer Sasivarevic was fouled in the box. Watson then sealed the deal with a penalty of his own after Owayne Gordon was taken down in the area in second-half stoppage time. After a scoreless first half, Sasivarevic headed in an Alexy Bosetti corner kick to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. NTX, however, tied things up on a Christian Okeke goal in the 62nd minute. OKC will host the Tampa Bay Rowdies in Norman, Okla. in a Third Round match on May 29.
Austin Bold FC (USL Championship) 2, Tulsa Roughnecks FC (USL Championship) 0
In a confrontation of USL Championship teams, Austin Bold FC gave its supporters plenty to cheer and celebrate as it scored goals on either side of halftime en route to a 2-0 victory over Tulsa Roughnecks FC at Bold Stadium in Del Valle, Texas. Sonny Guadarrama took advantage of an error by the Tulsa defense to find the net in the 31st minute. Sean McFarlane, Jr.’s right-wing feed set up Andre Lime’s insurance tally in the 74th minute. The celebration was just as entertaining as the goal. Lime got down on his knee and shined McFarlane’s boots with an imaginary cloth. Austin will welcome San Antonio FC (USL Championship) in the Third Round at Bold Stadium in Del Valle, Texas on May 29 at 8:30 p.m. ET.
San Antonio FC (USL Championship) 2, Laredo Heat SC (NPSL) 0
A pair of first-half goals off corner kicks carried San Antonio FC over Laredo Heat SC (National Premier Soccer League), 2-0, at Toyota Field in San Antonio, Texas. Pascal Eboussi buried a header off a Jack Barmby corner to lift the hosts into the lead in the 17th minute. Ever Guzman added an insurance tally in the 41st minute. Walter Restrepo took a short corner and shuffled the ball to Barmby. Barmby then fed Guzman from point-blank range and he fired a shot that hit the bottom of the crossbar before bouncing into the goal. Goalkeeper Jonathan Viscosi recorded the clean sheet. A few San Antonio players made their professional debuts, including 15-year-old Leo Torres, a San Antonio Pro Academy product, coming on as a substitute for Billy Forbes in the 76th minute. In a clash of USL Championship sides, San Antonio will visit Austin Bold FC in the Third Round at Bold Stadium in Del Valle, Texas on May 29 at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Las Vegas Lights (USL Championship) 2, CAL FC (Calif.) 0
In a hotly anticipated contest, current Las Vegas Lights coach Eric Wynalda was up against the amateur club he led on a famous giant-killing run in the 2012 Open Cup (beating Portland Timbers of MLS before going out to the Seattle Sounders). The first half was a tense and even affair. But despite the fact that Cal FC were the slightly better team over those 45 minutes, the Lights got the all-important go-ahead goal. Veteran striker Sammy Ochoa finished off a sweeping team move with a header from close range in the 13th minute to give the home side a lead at the interval. The introduction of Pablo Cruz – a former Cal FC player – turned the second half, and the game as a whole, more toward the Lights. He swerved around the left side in the 50th minute and crossed low for Victor Rojas to score. With the result pretty much sealed at 2-0, a pair of late red cards couldn’t sour what was a gripping game of Open Cup soccer. Wynalda’s Lights now move on to play the Orange County FC vs. Orange County SC winner on May 29.