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Teenager Ali Elmasnaouy scores winner as Oakland Roots SC downs El Farolito in Open Cup

By Staff, 04/17/24, 1:44AM EDT


18-year-old scores extra time winner in First Team debut as Oakland rallies for 2-1 victory

HAYWARD, Calif. – 18-year-old Ali Elmasnaouy scored the decisive goal in the 98th minute as Oakland Roots SC advanced to the Round of 32 in the 2024 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, bringing to an end the run of amateur side El Farolito after extra time on Tuesday night at Pioneer Stadium.

A USL Academy signing for Roots this season, Elmasnaouy delivered on his First Team debut for the club as he popped up in the right place at the right time to finish from close range after Justin Rasmussen’s angled cross from the left into the penalty area took a kind deflection off Roots forward Trayvone Reid to give Elmasnaouy his opportunity.

The teenager was making his second appearance in the Open Cup overall, having started for the club’s USL League Two side Project 51O in the 2023 tournament against Crossfire Redmond. He was one of six USL Academy signings to appear for Roots on Tuesday night, with Ilya Alekseev also getting his name on the scoresheet with an assist.

One of the darlings of this year’s Open Cup early rounds after two victories against professional opponents in the first two rounds, El Farolito threatened to reverse the result of the matchup from when these sides met a season ago in the Open Cup Second Round. Dembor Benson put the visitors ahead in the 12th minute as he headed home from eight yards out when Oakland was unable to clear a cross from the right.

Roots hit back shortly before the halftime break, however, as veteran Memo Diaz got on the end of a good cross by Alekseev from the right to the back post to head home the equalizer. Oakland was boosted further six minutes into the second half as El Farolito was reduced to 10 players when Edgard Kreye was sent off for his second yellow card of the game.

Despite that, Roots was unable to find a breakthrough for the lead, finishing with only one shot on target in the second half and six shots overall. After Elmasnaouy had put the hosts ahead eight minutes into the first period of extra time, they were also reduced to 10 players as Reid was sent off for his second yellow card early in the second period.

Despite a late push by the visitors – and a missed opportunity by Johnny Rodriguez late to ice the game – Oakland held on to advance to the Round of 32 for the first time in its history.

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