NCS Minnesota Stars Communications
Warren Ukah’s first two goals of the season helped carry the NSC Minnesota Stars to a 4-2 victory over the Kansas City Athletics in the first round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Simone Bracalello and Neil Hlavaty also scored as the Stars moved on at the expense of a shorthanded amateur side.
Pressure was the name of the game from the outset for the Stars, as the home side created several quality scoring chances, but strong play from Kansas City goalkeeper Zach Brennan, who made seven saves on the night, kept the score deadlocked until the 35th minute. Only a minute after watching Brennan stop him from close range, Ukah put the Stars ahead from 10 yards out, blasting a low Scott Lorenz cross into the top corner.
Ukah doubled the lead with the last kick of the first half, again gathering a Lorenz cross before turning past two defenders and powering a low shot past Brennan to put the Stars ahead 2-0 at the break.
Despite breaking his own duck, Ukah was quick to credit Lorenz’s play on the left wing in the build up to his goals.
“Scott had a wonderful exhibition tonight on the left side,” Ukah said after the game. “On the second goal, he saw me break off my run and hit me.”
The Stars came out attacking in the second half, but a counter attack from Kansas City earned a penalty kick that made for an action-packed last half hour. Max Lipset pulled Kyle Perkins down in the penalty box while challenging for a high ball, and Stephen Hoffman converted the penalty kick off Stars goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel’s outstretched left hand.
Pushing for the equalizer, the Athletics found themselves back down by two goals in the 71st minute, when Bracalello, on as a substitute only five minutes earlier, drove a left-footed shot past Brennan from 25 yards out to make it 3-1. The score would stay that way for less than one minute, as Perkins touched home a Brian Williams cross from the top of the goal box.
Hlavaty dispelled any anxiety about the final result in the 75th minute, rolling a penalty kick past Brennan after David Russell tripped Bracalello at the edge of the box. The goal was Hlavaty’s team-leading fourth goal of the season.
The Stars will play AC St. Louis at NSC Stadium on June 22 in the second round of the US Open Cup. AC St. Louis defeated the Des Moines Menace 1-0 Tuesday night in Des Moines.
NSC Minnesota Stars Lineup (4-5-1): Matt Van Oekel, Scott Lorenz, Max Lipset, Brian Kallman, Chris Clements, Two-Boys Gumede (Simone Bracalello 66), Geison Moura, Neil Hlavaty, Leilei Gao, Leland Wright (Thomas Granum 82), Warren Ukah
Kansas City Athletics Lineup (4-5-1): Zach Brennan, Ben Hicks, Larry Mason (Brian Williams 46), Ryan Barber (Neal Woodworth 82), Stephen Hoffman, Martin Johnston, Scott Vermillion, Josh McDaniel, Geoff Miles, Kyle Perkins
MIN – Warren Ukah (Scott Lorenz) 35th minute
MIN – Warren Ukah (Scott Lorenz) 46+
KC – Stephen Hoffman (penalty kick) 61
MIN – Simone Bracalello (Chris Clements) 71
KC – Kyle Perkins (Brian Williams) 72
MIN – Neil Hlavaty (penalty kick) 75
KC – Scott Vermillion (caution, reckless foul) 27th minute
MIN – Neil Hlavaty (caution, reckless foul) 45