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North Carolina Cruises Past Richmond in Open Cup

By JOHN ARLIA - john.arlia@uslsoccer.com, 05/15/19, 9:45PM EDT

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Battery battle back to eliminate Triumph; Schulte saves Saint Louis in shootout with Menace


North Carolina FC used three second-half goals to eliminate the Richmond Kickers and advance to the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night. | Photo courtesy Rob Kinnan / North Carolina FC

CARY, N.C. – North Carolina FC got a pair of second-half goals from Robert Kristo to advance to the Third Round of the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with a 4-1 win against USL League One’s Richmond Kickers at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park on Wednesday night.

North Carolina will play host to regional qualifier the Florida Soccer Soldiers, who knocked out the Charlotte Independence in a dramatic penalty shootout on Tuesday night, in the Third Round on Wednesday, May 29.

NCFC center back Caleb Duvernay produced an impressive goalline clearance eight minutes into the contest to help his side avoid an early deficit and the hosts went on to take the lead in the 16th minute as Donovan Ewolo showed off some impressive control to tee up Dre Fortune to volley home from just outside the penalty area. The Kickers fought back to equalize 11 minutes before halftime though, as Wahab Ackwei popped up at the back post to bundle Joe Gallardo’s low cross from the right wing over the goalline.

After the break it was all North Carolina and Kristo as the forward headed home Duvernay’s cross to restore the home side’s advantage in the 52nd minute and then won a penalty kick eight minutes later after being taken down by Richmond’s Ivan Magalhaes. Kristo sent Kickers goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald the wrong way from the penalty spot for his second tally of the match and Yamikani Chester sealed North Carolina’s spot in the next round with a fourth goal 20 minutes from time as he slotted Manny Perez’s right-wing cross into the bottom-right corner.

GREENVILLE TRIUMPH SC 1, CHARLESTON BATTERY 2: Ian Svantesson’s stoppage-time winner completed the forward’s brace and the Charleston Battery’s comeback victory over League One side Greenville Triumph SC to earn a spot in the Third Round at Legacy Early College.  

Greenville started the contest on the front foot and forward Jake Keegan looked a constant threat to get behind the Battery defense in the game’s opening stages. Triumph SC made its early pressure count on the half-hour mark when Maxwell Hemmings rose highest in the six-yard box to head Aaron Walker’s corner kick past Battery goalkeeper Philip Breno and into the corner of the net to give the League One side the edge.

Charleston started to ramp up the pressure after going behind, but it looked as though Triumph SC was going to hold on until Svantesson took advantage of a bit of fortune in the box and steered a left-footed shot past Dallas Jaye with 11 minutes to play. The Battery forward, who was making his return from injury, then went on to grab the winner in the first minute of stoppage time as his tight-angle shot from the right side of the area found its way past Jaye to earn Charleston a Third Round date with Eastern Conference rival Nashville SC at the Dean A. Hayes Track & Soccer Stadium in Murfreesboro, Tenn. on Wednesday, May 29.

LOUISVILLE CITY FC 3, READING UNITED AC 0: After making the USL’s longest Open Cup run in 2018, Louisville City FC showed it is ready for more this year after comfortably dispatching League Two side Reading United AC at Lynn Stadium.

Niall McCabe provided the visitors with an early warning sign in the third minute with a shot from distance and Louisville opened the scoring just nine minutes later as Abdou Mbacke Thiam got behind the Reading defense to tap home Niall McCabe’s inch-perfect cross from close range. The hosts doubled their advantage in the 19th minute when George Davis IV cut inside a defender on the left side of the penalty area and had his initial shot stopped by Tor Erik Larsen before finding the back of the net on the follow up.  

Thiam probably should have had a second goal just after the hour mark but failed to put his shot either side of the goalkeeper after creating space to shoot in the center of the area. However, Louisville eventually got its third as substitute Sunny Jane fired a beautiful dipping free kick over the wall and into the bottom-right corner to set his side up with a third meeting this season against Eastern Conference foe Birmingham Legion FC in the Third Round at Lynn Stadium.

INDY ELEVEN 1, LANSING IGNITE FC 0: Thomas Enevoldsen’s second-half header helped 10-Men Indy avoid upset against League One’s Lansing Ignite FC at the Sellick Bowl.

The visitors nearly took the lead in the game’s opening seconds as Christian Silva’s shot was cleared off the line by Indy’s Paddy Barrett and Rafael Mentzingen had his rebound attempt blocked before the ball was eventually cleared to safety by Kenney Walker. Indy’s poor start continued in the 17th minute when goalkeeper Evan Newton was sent off following a dangerous collision with Lansing’s Elma N’For, who had to be carted off the field after a long delay.

After a scoreless first half, it was the Eleven that took the lead from a set piece in the 57th minute as Barrett won the initial header from a free kick near the midfield stripe and Enevoldsen met the headed pass and powered the ball past Lansing goalkeeper Kyle Ihn to give his side the lead. Ignite FC saw another effort cleared off the line eight minutes later as Ricky Lopez-Espin was denied from the left side of the area and Tumi Moshobane saw a tight-angle drive denied by Indy substitute goalkeeper Jordan Farr with 16 minutes to play.

That was as close as the visitors would come to finding an equalizer as the Eleven advanced to face fellow Eastern Conference foe Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC at Highmark Stadium on Wednesday, May 29.

BIRMINGHAM LEGION FC 4, WEST CHESTER PREDATORS 1: Eddie Opoku recorded a goal and two assists to help Legion FC earn its first Open Cup victory in club history against the Predators at BBVA Compass Field.

Opoku set the home side up with a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 21st minute as he won a penalty kick after being fouled in the box by West Chester’s Enda O’Neill and Chandler Hoffman made no mistake from the spot as he found the bottom-right corner. Femi Hollinger-Janzen doubled Birmingham’s lead 17 minutes later when he rose highest at the near post to head home Opoku’s in-swinging corner kick, getting to the ball just ahead of Predators goalkeeper Pierre Gardan.

Opoku played provider again six minutes after halftime as he squared the ball to the center of the box for Prosper Kasim, who teed himself up for a volleyed finish that found the bottom-right corner. West Chester got a goal back in the 61st minute as Chas Wilson took advantage of a sloppy turnover at the back and curled home a lovely finish with his left foot into the top-left corner to give the amateur side a glimmer of hope.

However, it wasn’t to be as Opuku capped off his stellar performance with a goal in the 89th minute when he latched onto Daniel Johnson’s through pass down the right wing and dribbled past a defender, the goalkeeper and another defender before dispatching the ball into the waning net. Legion FC continue its Open Cup run on Wednesday, May 29 when it travels to Lynn Stadium to takes on Louisville City FC.

MEMPHIS 901 FC 3, NEW YORK RED BULLS U23 1: A brace from defender Josh Morton helped Memphis 901 FC advance to the Third Round of the Open Cup with a comeback victory over the New York Red Bulls U23s at AutoZone Park.

The visitors took a shock lead in the fifth minute as Jean Paul Marin turned his defender inside out and produced a first-time finish to Brian Saramago’s through pass that just evaded the outstretched hand of 901 FC goalkeeper Scott Levene on its way into the bottom-left corner of the net. The lead didn’t last long though, as Memphis’ Cam Lindley produced a stunning free kick from 22 yards out three minutes later that dipped over the New York wall and into top-left corner.

The hosts took the lead in the 22nd minute when Lagos Kunga weaved his way into the New York penalty area and squared a perfect pass to the onrushing Morton, who took a touch before slotting home a composed finish past Red Bulls U23 goalkeeper Marcellin Gohier. Morton secured 901 FC’s spot in the Third Round with 17 minutes to play when he headed home Lindley’s corner kick from close range, setting up an all-expansion side clash against Hartford Athletic at Mike Rose Soccer Complex in Memphis on Wednesday, May 29.

DES MOINES MENACE 1 (1), SAINT LOUIS FC 1 (3): 18-year-old goalkeeper Patrick Schulte marked his professional debut with three saves in a penalty shootout to help Saint Louis FC avoid an upset against League Two’s Des Moines Menace at James W. Cownie Soccer Park.

Saint Louis, which defeated the Menace in a penalty shootout when the sides last met in the Open Cup in 2015, advances to the Third Round where it will host League One’s Forward Madison FC at World Wide Technology Soccer Park on Wednesday, May 29.

The visitors didn’t look like they were going to have this kind of trouble in the early going as STLFC converted a 14th-minute corner kick with forward Kyle Greig losing his marker at the near post and planting a powerful header into the roof of the net. However, Des Moines responded from the penalty spot six minutes before halftime when Nicolas Perea beat Schulte from 12 yards after defender Sam Fink was ruled to have handled the ball in the area.

A second half devoid of many clear-cut chances did provide a pivotal moment in the 92nd minute as Des Moines’ Koray Easterling was sent off for a second yellow card. Saint Louis couldn’t capitalize on couple of late corner kicks in regulation but used its man advantage to pepper Jordan Bell in the Menace goal early in extra time. Bell made six saves in all during the additional half hour, four of which came before STLFC’s Albert Dikwa was sent off for a second yellow in the 114th minute.

However, Des Moines would head to the shootout with just nine players after Gerber Chávez earned his second yellow 10 minutes later. In the shootout, Schulte gave his side the advantage by stopping the Menace’s initial effort and then two more along the way as Saint Louis converted all three of its attempts to claim a thrilling victory.

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