An unlucky deflection. A last-minute goal. Stoppage time. Extra time. A goal in extra time.
The First Round U.S. Open Cup match between Cleveland SC and Chicago FC United literally had it all.
The only catch was the weather, which was cold and rainy. The dedicated fans and supporters of CSC braved the elements for 120+ minutes, not deterred by the driving rain and dropping temperatures. The Sixth City Syndicate cheered, chanted, and deployed plenty of smoke. And they celebrated loudly after Cleveland SC advanced to the Second Round with a 2-1 win.
The scoring started in the 17th minute with a Cleveland SC own goal. An unlucky deflection made its way into the goal, giving Chicago the early 1-0 lead.
There would be no change in the score going into halftime as both teams had their share of possession and chances. Overall, the first half was evenly matched aside from the own goal.
The weather continued to deteriorate as the game progressed. The cold and the driving rain made the turf slick and slowed down the attacks from both teams. Physical play and an overall lack of finishing kept things close and very competitive.
Cleveland would find their equalizer in the 90th minute with Mikey Derezic scoring a looping goal after weaving in and out of traffic.
The score was tied 1-1, and that score would not change in stoppage time or the first 15 minutes of extra time. The second period of extra time would see NPSL veteran and Cleveland SC legend Vinny Bell come away with the game-winner in the 107th minute.
It was a thrilling end to an incredible matchup of USL League Two and NPSL powerhouses.
“We love playing teams from all different levels and see how we stack up against other leagues,” Bell said. “It’s twice now that we have beaten a USL team.”
While Derezic and Bell would gather all of the accolades thanks to their goals, Conor Cable was incredible in goal for CSC. The 2021 NPSL Golden Glove award winner had over 10 saves and kept making play after play, diving to his left and right and deflecting multiple shots.
Cleveland SC will now advance to the Open Cup’s Second Round to face USL League One side Forward Madison FC.
Photo Credit: Luigi Musto
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