Aguiluchos dominated Bay Bridge rival to earn their first-ever victory in club history in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. PDL club SF City FC hosted CD Aguiluchos USA at the newly dedicated SF Soccer complex, known as the Beach Chalet, across the street from the Pacific Ocean.
The game started with both teams feeling each other out, and neither dominating possession nor creating any real chances in the final third. Both teams were definitely up for this match as both sides were going after every tackle and challenge with everything they had.
The aggressive nature of the game led to an early injury to Aguiluchos winger Adan Martinez. He was replaced by Afghanistan international Ahmad Hatifie, who was making his debut for the club.
The half ended 0-0 with neither side creating any meaningful chances, as both teams seemed content to play patiently.
The second half was a whole different story. It started out with some end-to-end play. First was Ross Middlemiss heading a cross just over the bar. This was almost immediately followed by a chance to SF City, as Ashley Watson scuffed his shot into the keeper’s arms.
More hard challenges continued in the second half, as neither team wanted to lose this match. Nino William of Aguiluchos saw the first yellow card of the game followed shortly by a yellow to SF City’s Bobby Edwards.
SF City tried to take the lead in the 55th minute, but Aguiluchos goalie Kevin Gonzales made a brilliant save followed by an amazing punch on a free kick shortly thereafter.
The deadlock was finally unlocked when Aguiluchos’ Miguel Santiago chipped in a perfect cross in the 61st minute to talisman Simon Rawnsley for the goal. This was Rawnsley’s 11th goal in just eight matches in all competitions.
The goal clearly shook SF City’s confidence, as City’s goalie Austin Harms had to make multiple great saves in the next several minutes. Both Hatifie and Middlesmiss would each see multiple efforts at goal saved by Harms.
SF City continued to push for an equalizer, but Aguiluchos’ defense stayed organized. The game became even more physical as City’s Nick Liddleton and Aguiluchos’ Hatifie would both earn yellow cards.
The game would eventually be sealed in the 86th minute when Man of the Match Miguel Santiago scored a wonder goal off a free kick from nearly 35 yards out and from the tightest of angles. This sent the traveling fans into hysteria, as Santiago ran to celebrate with his supporters.
The goal took the last wind out of the host, who were playing in their first match of the season. The final minutes became all about Aguiluchos, as they looked for a third goal to put the icing on the cake.
A third goal would come deep into stoppage time, when substitute Matheus Freire saw City’s keeper off his line and beautifully chipped it in over his head to make it 3-0.
The final whistle was soon to follow, as Aguiluchos booked their place in the second round of the Open Cup and will face USL side Sacramento Republic next Wednesday.