With a fog slowly creeping into the Ventura College stadium, the Ventura County Fusion may have been feeling uneasy in their second-ever US Open Cup match as they found themselves behind to a USASA entrant in the early going for the second consecutive time. And it was a former player dealing the blow to boot. But things would turn rosey nearly a half-hour later as the club rallied past Doxa Italia for a 3-1 victory and a trip to the second round.
Bryan Byrne, a former MLS New England Revolution midfielder that reportedly was the odd man out with the Los Angeles Galaxy when they signed David Beckham, stunned his former championship side just five minutes into the contest.
The Irishman, in his third season with Doxa Italia after spending two seasons with the Fusion, has to give all of the credit to the Fusion goalkeeper though. A long ball far past Byrne was intercepted by the keeper, but the attempted clearance ended up crashing directly into the striker and in the goal. The tally matched his entire output in 22 matches with Ventura County from 2008-09, though he was an important part of the team’s 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire Premier in the 2009 PDL Championship.
Andy Rose would level the match from the penalty spot after Jacob Hustedt was taken down in the box. It was his fifth goal of the year, sending the keeper in the wrong direction.
Doxa Italia (USASA-So. CA)
1:3 VenturaCountyFusion (PDL) Ventura College – Ventura, Calif.
RECAP: Ventura County Star | ESPN LA
DI: Bryan Byrne – 5′
VC: Andy Rose pen. – 33′
VC: Mark Magee – 43′
VC: Reed Williams – 78′
A year ago, against the Arizona Sahuaros, the Fusion also found themselves trailing with the visitors opening the scoring in the 26th minute. A goal from Ousman Jagne would tie the match. The contest would remain deadlocked en route to penalties, where Arizona prevailed 4-2.
However, leading scorer Mark Magee (6 goals) would make sure there would be no deadlock. He took a cross from Hustedt and scored from close range, giving Ventura a 2-1 advantage two minutes before half.
Doxa Italia nearly found an equalizer in the 70th minute, only to see the shot clang off the post. Eight minutes later, Reed Williams gave the hosts a two-goal advantage on a breakaway created by Sam Hayden, hitting his fourth goal of the campaign for Fusion.
The victory sends the Fusion on to a second round meeting with the Los Angeles Blues, an expansion side in USL Pro.
Scoring Summary 5th minute: Bryan Byrne (Doxa)
32nd minute: Andy Rose (VCF)
43rd minute: Mark Magee (Jacob Hustedt) (VCF)
78th minute: Reed Williams (VCF)