By Joe Chatz/NPSL.com
NSPL side Cleveland Soccer Club were defeated 3-0 in the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup by USL League One’s Forward Madison FC at Breese Stevens Field.
The first chance of the game came in the 15th minute when Cleveland’s Matthew Harter was tackled outside of the Madison penalty area. Harter ended up taking the free kick and drilled his left-footed effort into the Madison wall, whose counter attempt was thwarted.
Cleveland’s keeper Conor Cable took it upon himself to keep his club in the contest early on.
Madison nearly opened the scoring in the 26th minute when a through ball found Nazeem Bartman, who skated past his defender but could not skirt his shot past the Cleveland keeper. The subsequent corner found the head of Madison’s Carl Schneider but Cable was there to make another save to keep the game scoreless.
It was Cable who would be called into action again in the 37th minute. Madison’s Justin Sukow received a cross from Alann Torres, who took two dribbles and drilled a shot into the arms of Cable. The Cleveland keeper let the ball sneak through his hands into the back of the net to give Madison the 1-0 lead.
Madison refused to relent before the halftime break. After winning their fourth corner of the half, the initial corner found the head of Cyrus Rad.
Rad headed the ball to the opposite side of the penalty area, finding the left foot of Cesar Murillo Jr. whose first-touch doubled Madison’s lead just before halftime.
The second half was much like the first, with Cable making consecutive saves in the downpour to keep the Madison lead at two in the early moments of the second 45. Cable would finish the match with nine saves.
Cleveland SC’s offensive work rate was increased in the second half, but they struggled to get the ball into the Forward Madison half with consistency. A 66th minute corner kick from Cleveland SC found the foot of Chris Cvecko, whose shot fell right to the Madison keeper Philip Breno for his first save of the match.
Moments later, Madison added a third goal. Torres broke down the Cleveland defense, going untouched until he unleashed a shot from the edge of the penalty area. Cable made the initial save but the deflection fell to Nazeem Bartman, who would not be denied Madison’s third goal in the 68th minute.
Despite late efforts from Cleveland to get on the scoresheet, Madison was able to deny their NPSL foes en route to the 3-0 victory.
After waiting over two years to finally enter the U.S. Open Cup, Cleveland SC were eliminated after having defeated Chicago FC United in a thrilling 2-1 win that required extra time.
Forward Madison started two NPSL alums in this second round matchup: Philip Breno (FC Frederick) and Christian Enriquez (ASC San Diego). Breno kept a clean sheet in net after facing only two shots on goal while Enriquez was subbed off at halftime after a productive run.
Breno, who captained Madison, was elated after the match.
“I think the team played tremendously today,” he said. “I think we took it up a notch from last week. I think between the shutout, the team playing well, the captain’s armband – this is surreal.
And was he thinking about his journey from the NPSL to where he is now with Forward Madison FC before the game?
“That was something I actually thought about before the game,” Breno said. “I was with FC Frederick and it was a really special day. I had the captain’s armband on. It was sentimental in a way because I went from college, NPSL, to that next step and then onto here. It’s just kind of surreal.”