A Pair of Late Goals sees the Lubbock Matadors through to U.S. Open Cup’s Third Round

By Ty Kaplan/NPSL.com

Scoreless for 69 minutes of play, the Lubbock Matadors came to life in the closing moments of the U.S. Open Cup’s Second Round on Tuesday night at LCU Soccer Field in Lubbock, Texas.  The young club sent a pair of goals past Foro SC goalkeeper Gonzalo Martinez in the final 20 minutes to advance to the U.S. Open Cup’s Third Round.

“Super, super proud of the effort,” Matadors head coach Paul Gilbert said. “We just kept saying if we get there enough times, eventually we’re going to find it.”

Matador forward Salvador Martinez opened the scoring for Lubbock in the 70th minute as he tapped in a free kick from right back Kodai Kobayashi.  The goal sent the crowd of over 2,000 into a frenzy. 

Midfielder Lucca Motta said the goal was crucial not just for the win but for Martinez who missed two shots on goal near minutes before his eventual score.

“We know, as a number nine, he missed a clear chance a couple minutes before,” Motta said. “So I think for him personally it was very important to score just minutes after.  Everybody was excited for him and for the team.  We’re happy for him for sure.”

The tension of the night would emerge once again 20 minutes later as Foro SC set up for a free kick inches outside of the box in injury time.  Ultimately, Foro SC would send its final attempt high and left leading to a defensive breakdown moments after for Shuma Sasaki to put the bow on the night and score the Matadors’ second goal. 

In the closing moments, Gilbert said he could feel his team getting too relaxed, but the end result was deserved for his squad. 

“I thought we were a little too comfortable in that moment,” Gilbert said. “Our subs come in, and I thought we could afford to be a little more physical in the center of the park to win balls and kind of slow down the game with a one-nil lead and up a man.  Obviously, we didn’t do that, and we fouled.  Thankfully the kid misses, but that’s football.  We missed a penalty early on, so that’s justice.”

With the victory, the Matadors will have the opportunity to play at a level fewamateur teams ever reach.  General manager Dustin McCorkle said the chance to face an MLS or USL club in the next round means more than just another round of soccer for his club. 

“Putting the Matadors brand on that level has been a dream of mine since we got started,” McCorkle said. “The opportunity to go represent our city in that way is just incredible.”

The U.S. Open Cup’s Third Round will take place on April 16-17 with further details coming after Thursday’s draw, which will air live on watch.usopencup.com and U.S. Soccer’s YouTube page

Photo Credit: Jacob Lujan/NPSL.com


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