By Kevin V. Nguyen/NPSL.com
Two San Francisco teams entered the Open Cup with lofty goals of representing the City by the Bay, but only one, El Farolito, emerged with that honor.
El Farolito, a storied club currently in preseason for the upcoming 2023 season in the NPSL, overcame an 85th minute red card to beat upstart Inter SF 3-0, with all three goals coming in extra time.
Colombian center back Johnatan Mosquera broke the deadlock in the 94th by winning a scramble for the ball off of a corner. Then, just five minutes later, his countryman, winger Jhon Quinones, added a second, emerging with the ball after several deflections.
With Inter chasing the game and leaving space behind for a counter, Quinones combined with fellow attacker Cesar Benetiz to put the game away for good in the 113th.
“The game was tight for so long,” Benetiz said. “[Inter SF] were disciplined. But once we got the first goal, that’s when the space we needed really started to open up.”
Going into the second half, it was actually Inter SF who had asserted themselves more. They defended well in a compact 5-4-1 shape and created the better of the chances before falling behind.
In the 12th minute, Inter forward and former USL MVP Matt Fondy smashed a volley from a well-worked cross that missed just right of the goal. Later before halftime, he also put two separate headers over the bar.
“[Inter SF] played a great game,” El Farolito head coach Santiago Lopez said. “But we took advantage of our set pieces, which is what these games sometimes come down to.”
Frustrated by his team’s lack of ideas in the final third for most of regulation, Lopez brought on the speedy Quinones in the 70th to change the game.
“I saw a weakness on their left side and wanted to get someone fresh in to exploit that,” Lopez said. “That’s where we ended up doing most of our damage.”
But in the 85th minute, El Farolito went down to 10 men when midfielder Enrique Soto was sent off with a red card for a challenge in the Inter box.
“Believe it or not, [the red card] actually simplified our attacking ideas,” Lopez said.
In extra time, Quinones overwhelmed his tired opponents with his pace. He attacked Inter’s backpedaling defenders over and over again and finished with 1 goal and 1 assist.
El Farolito’s current run in the Open Cup coincides with the 30th anniversary of the club’s historic win of the tournament back in 1993.
“I know that this tournament holds a significant meaning for the club,” Quinones said. “I’m just happy to have played my part in creating two goals.”
With the victory, El Farolito will face Bay Area rivals and USL side Oakland Roots SC.
“3-0 today and 3-0 anniversary,” Lopez said. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Photo Credit: Kevin V. Nguyen/NPSL.com