LAS VEGAS — In a game that had it all, amateur-side Orange County FC prevailed in epic fashion in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup third-round match at Cashman Field Wednesday night.
Orange County FC achieved a stunning 5-3 win over the 10-men Las Vegas Lights (USL Championship) after the National Premier Soccer League club seemingly let slip the opportunity to advance to the fourth round and a match-up with Division I (Major League Soccer) opposition.
Coached by U.S. men’s national team legend Paul Caligiuri, who shocked the soccer universe in 1989 when his “shot heard round the world” sent the U.S. to the 1990 World Cup, Orange County pulled a smaller if not similar rabbit out of the hat against a team helmed by Caligiuri’s former US MNT teammate and Cupset specialist, Eric Wynalda. As it turned out, Wynalda and Caligiuri were teammates on that team that participated in the first U.S. World Cup appearance in 40 years at Italia ’90.
It was a shock start for the hosts just off the strip as OCFC grabbed a 2-0 lead inside the opening 20 minutes thanks to Cody Shelton’s sixth-minute strike and an own goal from defender Mobi Fehr 10 minutes later.
The Lights shook off the early deficit and earned a penalty kick that Santiago Echavarria converted in the 23rd minute before Dakota Collins restored OCFC’s two-goal advantage in the 35th minute.
Coming out of halftime with a 3-1 deficit, Las Vegas grabbed a quick goal through Edwin Rivas in the 47th minute to draw within one. The teams played for nearly half an hour before the next key event, a straight red card issued to Las Vegas’ Christian Torres in the 74th minute. The dismissal had the Lights scrambling to create chances.
Junior Sandoval’s 85th-minute strike looked to have given Las Vegas the chance to fight another day.
Orange County, however, would not be denied and an innocuous throw-in that made its way into the box led to the game-winning strike from Vegas native Blake Frischknecht in the 89th minute. OCFC then made sure it was on its way to the fourth round with a lightening counter-attack in the first minute of stoppage time that was tapped home by Oscar Flores.
The fourth-round draw will be held in Chicago Thursday.