FC Arizona Defeats Azteca FC 4-2 in USASA Region IV Final, Advances to National Amateur Cup in Dekalb, Illinois in July

By W.G. Ramirez/NPSL.com 

Jordin Figueroa, Gabriel Waters, and Bryan Aceves scored in overtime to lift FC Arizona to a 4-2 victory over Colorado’s Azteca FC in the USASA Region IV Final at Cheyenne Sports Complex. 

Figueroa drove down the right side and blasted his kick to the far side past Azteca goaltender Gerardo Aguilar less than a minute into the extra period, sending FC Arizona’s bench into hysteria and providing all the momentum the team would need. 

“I seen that through ball come to me, I knew it was me, I had to finish the play,” Figueroa said.

FC Arizona advances to the USASA National Amateur Cup in Dekalb, Illinois from July 25-28.  The Cup returns to the Chicago area for the 100th anniversary of the event.  The first-ever event was also held in Chicago.

After dominating the second half in regulation, and finally scoring in the 88th minute to tie the game, Azteca couldn’t find its groove after Figueroa’s goal, barely putting any pressure on FC Arizona netminder Carlos Reyes Burboa. 

With FC Arizona captain Marco Afonso nursing an upper quad injury in the second half, it became a team effort once the game went into extra time.

Christian Aguirre came close to increasing the lead when his header caromed off the post at the crossbar moments after Figueroa’s goal. 

Instead, seven minutes into overtime, it was Waters casually dribbling down the right side, and rather than trying to beat his defender, sent a floater to the top corner on the far side, a shot Aguilar didn’t even bother defending, as the ball appeared to be headed over the crossbar.

 “It’s part of the game, stuff happens like that,” Aguilar said. “I seen runners going in but also seen the keeper, so I just tested my luck…floated one up there hoping it goes in.” 

Aceves added the exclamation point with two minutes left, and Azteca scored once more to provide the final margin.

“That’s why I love to say we’re a team,” FC Arizona coach Alejandro Aguilar said. “Marco is a wonderful player.  He dictates when we’re attacking, when we’re defending.  But the good thing about us, he went out and the whole team stepped up.  We know how to suffer sometimes to be a champion.  You got to know how to suffer, we did, we ended up scoring a couple more goals. So, thank God we take the trophy.”

FC Arizona got on the board first in what was a rather quiet and defensive first half.  With a free kick set just outside the box in front of the net, Aceves stepped in front to fake the kick and Afonso followed with a blast in the 32nd minute to make it 1-0.

With Afonso in the game, FC Arizona dictated the pace and kept the ball in the offensive zone for most of the first half.  But the knee to his quad he took in the semifinal against Temecula the day before was too much and he came out roughly five minutes into the second half.

“Obviously I’m proud of the guys for picking it up towards the end of the second half,” Afonso said. “I know when the leadership starts getting swayed out and people are leaving the field and people are getting injured and sore, it’s important for other guys to step up obviously, they can’t just rely on myself.  So, I’m just very proud of the guy stepping it up and towards the end of the extra time and obviously winning is most important for us and being a family is another.”

FC Arizona clearly missed its leader, as it became a tale of two halves with Azteca swarming the offensive zone over the last 40 minutes to put the pressure on Reyes Burboa. 

Whether Azteca was sailing kicks over the crossbar, or having its shots blocked, it seemed inevitable it would tie the game with the time of possession it had as time drained. 

Alan Selgado finally found the back of the net with time running out in regulation, as he pierced the smallest opening with the ball in the far-top corner from the right side on a free kick. 

Reyes Burboa said he remained confident.

“I felt confident through each and every one of our players and I knew that we were gonna get the result and that we’re gonna get things taken care of,” Reyes Burboa said through a translator. “I was ready for anything.”

 

Photo Credit: Kaylie Phillips/Jades Media

 

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