OKC Energy FC advanced to the Fourth Round of the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup after a thrilling 4-3 victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Tuesday night. | Photo courtesy Steven Christy / OKC Energy FC
NORMAN, Okla. – OKC Energy FC advanced to the Fourth Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for the fourth time in its history just before midnight on Tuesday night after a see-saw battle saw it emerge with a 4-3 victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies at John Crain Field on the campus of Oklahoma University.
After a delay of two hours, 20 minutes due to the inclement weather that kept the teams in the changing rooms it took Energy FC just two minutes to open the scoring as Jamaican international Omar Gordon picked up possession in the right channel off an angled ball forward by Callum Ross and fired a shot that clipped the inside of the right post and found the back of the net.
The Rowdies responded with a good spell of pressure that initially saw Brandon Allen fire a shot that was deflected wide of the left post. The ensuing corner wasn’t well handled by OKC goalkeeper Bryan Byars, whose attempted punch went over his own crossbar, but while Energy FC was able to withstand the Rowdies initial advances the visitors were awarded a penalty kick in the 19th minute when Antoine Hoppenot was brought down in the penalty area. Allen stepped up and fired low to the right corner to level the score.
It then took only four minutes for the Rowdies to take the lead. Again, Hoppenot was involved, this time controlling a long pass forward by David Najem perfectly to set up a curling finish to the left corner from 20 yards. But as Tampa Bay had responded to the early blow by its hosts, Energy FC rallied back immediately. A poor clearance by Pape Diakite fell straight to Alexy Bosetti, who curled home a finish with the outside of his right foot into the top-left corner from 25 yards.
Having become the first side to score multiple times in a game against the Rowdies this season, Energy FC added a third in the 32nd minute. A disguised pass through two defenders by Bosetti found Christian Eissele, whose low finish to the right corner restored OKC’s lead.
That lead held until the halftime break, but 71 seconds into the second half Allen notched his second for the Rowdies as Hoppenot slipped the forward through to fire home into the left side of the net to level the score once again. The Rowdies threatened again in the 55th minute after winning possession in the OKC half as a quick move set up Kwadwo Poku for a low shot to the left corner that Byars turned wide of the post.
OKC had chances early in the second half, too, as Bosetti curled a free kick just wide in the 48th minute and Gordon volleyed just wide from a tight angle three minutes later, but Energy FC regained the lead on the hour-mark as it caught the Rowdies on a counterattack. Gordon began the move as he broke down the right and sent a deep cross to the back post that found Bosetti in space. The Frenchman decided against the shot, and instead pulled the ball back to Deshorn Brown at the top of the penalty area which allowed the Jamaican to shoot low into the net.
Brown had a big chance for his second goal of the night in the 68th minute as he was played into the left side of the penalty area by Amer Sasivarevic but sent his finish just wide of the right post. The Rowdies then went close to another equalizer 10 minutes later when Leo Fernandes’ cutback from the left intended for Allen was turned behind at the last minute by OKC’s Rafael Garcia.
As the Rowdies pressed inside the final 10 minutes, however, Energy FC’s defense clamped down well to limit the clear looks on goal for the visitors. Dominic Oduro spun past his defender in the final minute only for a covering defender to deflect his shot wide of the left post, but that proved the final good look on goal for the visitors as OKC took its place in the Fourth Round.