El Farolito Advances to U.S. Open Cup’s Third Round with 2-1 Win over Central Valley Fuego FC

By Angel Moreno/NPSL.com

El Farolito beat Central Valley Fuego FC 2-1 in the U.S. Open Cup’s Second Round at UC Merced’s Bobcat Field.


was a poetic series of events in Central California; the final shades of purple and orange skies faded into black and a beacon of light emerged to keep El Farolito’s dream alive of lifting another Open Cup trophy.

Trailing by one in the waning minutes of first-half stoppage time, El Farolito equalized as forward Dembor Benson poked in a goal with his right foot to send the club into the locker room with its confidence regained.

What unfolded over the next 45 minutes was a showing of ambition, determination, and heart that pushed El Farolito into the third of the U.S. Open Cup for the first time in the tournament’s modern era (since 1995).  El Farolito won the tournament in 1993 under the name Club Deportivo Mexico.

Benson scored the game winner at the 88th minute, delivering a left-footed shot across the keeper that hit off the right post and into the goal for the lead.  Jhoan Yabur provided the assist.

It was Benson’s third goal in two Open Cup games.  He also scored the eventual game-winner in El Farolito’s win over Portland Timbers 2. 

“To be honest, I have no words to explain the feelings at this moment,” Benson said after the game. “We knew coming into tonight that we were the underdog, that Fuego were favored to win, but this team never quits.  We don’t back down to anybody and we have a great team.”

Midfielder Erik Arias agrees and believes it is the values that make this club so talented.  Arias provided the assist on Benson’s first goal, heading the ball over two Fuego defenders and landing right at Benson’s feet.

“The work we accomplished today is years in the making,” Arias said. “We have many of the same players, same coaches, same gameplan, with a dream to always compete in the Open Cup.  We’ve always been out in the first round, and well with the glory of God, this year we did our job of what the coaching staff has implemented.  And more than that, this isn’t just a club, we’re a big family.  We continue humbly with our feet on the ground that we are here to do beautiful things and only God knows what that is.  We will continue to prepare ourselves for the next round.  And also to continue in the NPSL to qualify for the Cup next year.”

About 100 or so fans, most of whom are family members, made the drive from San Francisco to support El Farolito.

“We’re a very united group,” said head coach Santiago Lopez. “We know very clearly what we have to contribute as individuals and we always have our family in mind.  And we do it with a lot of love.  A lot of love.  We’re grateful to God, and the opportunity to represent the city of San Francisco, and above all the community of El Farolito.  It’s not just a bar or restaurant – it’s all the people that work day in and day out in the restaurants.  All the owners, the supporters, workers. It is thanks to them that we are here.”

El Faro is Spanish for lighthouse.  Lighthouses, or Faros, symbolize stability and direction – something El Farolito holds true to its heart.

“We work on this mindset in every practice,” Benson said. “We create these scenarios where we are down one with 10 minutes to go, and we repeatedly tell ourselves, ‘We’re going to turn around, we’re going to turn it around.  Time is running out, we have to push now.’  With God’s help and the strength of my teammates, we never lost that ambition.  To go up and take the result was a real triumph.”

Photo Credit: Peter Maiden/NPSL.com


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