It was a great opening night for National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) clubs as three of the league’s teams, El Farolito, Laredo Heat SC, and Orange County FC, made it through to the next round.
The First Round concludes with nine matches across the United States on May 8th. All the games will be available to watch on ESPN+ with the first contests of the night kicking off at 7 pm ET.
The victorious First Round sides will be joined by professional Division II clubs in the competition’s Second Round to be played on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.
Academica SC 1, El Farolito 2
El Farolito scored twice in the first half before going down to 10 men and holding off Academica SC for a 2-1 win at Academica Field in Turlock, Calif. The visitors grabbed a 2-0 halftime advantage on a pair of well-taken scores. Edson Cardona flicked home a free kick at the near right post in the 21st minute, and Leonardo Fredes doubled the score with an audacious overhead kick that ultimately resulted in a broken arm in the 34th minute. Walter Mazzolatti, who was sitting on a yellow card, was banished from the game in the 54th minute for a rash challenge, giving Academica a man advantage and some hope. The hosts proceeded to pull one back in the 72nd minute as Jorge Carmoa slipped a shot from a difficult angle past the keeper at the near post but couldn’t muster another in the remaining time. El Farolito will face Fresno FC in a Second Round match at Boxer Stadium in San Francisco, Calif. on Wednesday, May 15 at 5:30 pm ET.
Laredo Heat SC 1, Brazos Valley Cavalry FC 0
Ivan Sakou converted a penalty kick on the hour, and the Laredo Heat made that goal stand up en route to a 1-0 victory over the Brazos Valley Cavalry in a battle of Texas teams at Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Texas. Both teams finished with 10 men. Brazos’ Ivan Leon was given his marching orders in the 70th minute due to his second yellow card. Six minutes later, the Heat’s Jose Luis Hincapie was awarded a straight red card. Laredo advanced to the Second Round and will play San Antonio FC at Toyota Field in San Antonio, Texas on Tuesday, May 14 at 8:30 pm ET.
Orange County FC 2, FC Golden State Force 0
Orange County FC earned a First Round Open Cup victory with a 2-0 triumph over FC Golden State Force at Orange County Great Park – Championship Soccer Stadium in Irvine, Calif. Orange County grabbed a 1-0 edge in the 27th minute against the run of play as Cody Shelton’s shot nestled into the lower right corner. Aaron Lombardi added an insurance tally in the 68th minute, putting home a 25-yard free kick to the near right post. In what will be a local derby, Orange County FC will meet Orange County SC in a Second Round affair at Orange County Great Park – Championship Soccer Stadium in Irvine, Calif. on Wednesday, May 15 at 10:30 pm ET.
New York Red Bulls U-23 4, FC Motown 4, 4-4 AET, 5-3 PKs
In a game that had just about everything, the New York Red Bulls U-23 survived 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. The Red Bulls’ U-23s 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 NPSL side defeated the U-23’s by a 2-1 score. Red Bulls goalkeeper Marcelin Gohier saved 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 equalized with a header at the near post past keeper David Greczek after a right-wing cross in the 18th minute. 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 out, 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 contention with a goal, scoring from the top of the box in the 70th minute then setting up Cameron Vickers, who knocked the ball into an open net from close range in the 72nd. Neither team could grab a winner in regulation and 30 mins of extra time was added to the clock.
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 added period 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. The shootout to decide the winner was no less dramatic with misses and saves punctuating the eventual win by the Red Bulls.
FC Baltimore Christos 1, West Chester United 1, 1-1 AET, 4-5 PKs
In yet another dramatic shootout, West Chester United got past FC Baltimore Christos, 5-4 in a seven-round penalty-kick tie-breaker after playing to a 1-1 draw through 120 minutes of regulation and extra time at Homewood Field on the campus of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. United grabbed a 17th-minute lead on a goal by Troy Amspacher from an assist by Andreas Bartosinski. But, Jake Dengler pulled the hosts even, scoring off a deflected shot from some 35 yards away in the 56th minute. The scoring dried up from there until the teams headed to spot kicks to decide the winner. After Samuel Phelps had scored to give United a 5-4 lead in penalties, Christos’ Charles Pulliam sent his shot over the crossbar on the final attempt of the night. West Chester goalkeeper Pierre Gardan made one save in the shootout on Nicholas Richardson.
Cal FC 5, FC Mulhouse Portland 1
Former Chicago Fire forward Orr Barouch connected for a first-half hat-trick to pace Cal FC to a 5-1 victory over FC Mulhouse Portland at Orange County Great Park – Field 25 in Irvine, Calif. Barouch began his memorable night by converting a penalty kick before doubling the score. After the hosts made it 3-0, Freddie Braun tallied Mulhouse’s lone goal, a header off a free kick in the 44th minute to narrow Cal FC’s lead to 3-1. Barouch topped off a memorable opening 45 minutes with a nifty header just before the stroke of halftime for a 4-1 advantage.
Photo Credit: Chris Fincham