Chula Vista and FC Tucson players battle for the ball. Photo: BensonactionFoto | FC Tucson
In 2013, FC Tucson completed a remarkable run in the US Open Cup, defeating two pro teams before being stopped by the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer. They hoped to repeat that performance this year.
It is not going to happen. FC Tucson saw defeat at home to USASA club Chula Vista FC 2-1.
FC Tucson’s David Clemens, Odaine Sinclair and Brandon Zambrano each had strong chances in the first half that tested Chula Vista’s Sebastian Ortiz. A clean first half ended with neither team scoring.
FC Tucson opened up the scoring in the 58th minute with a shot from Zambrano. The home side started to let Chula Vista have too much of the ball and paid for it in the 82nd minute when Gilberto Perez-Lopez equalized moments after coming on as a substitute. The game would be dragged into a half hour of overtime.
Chula Vista won their first lead of the match four minutes into overtime with a goal from Angel Pinal.
This photo shows FC Tucson’s controversial missed penalty kick. The referee ruled that Eddie Sanchez missed the penalty kick. Photo: Joshua Pearson
Later in the extra period, a Chula Vista player ran down FC Tucson’s Dom Papa in the box. The ensuing penalty kick became one of many controversies in the overtime. Eddie Sanchez lined up to take the kick, and it seemed to hit the crossbar and bounced out of the goal. Observers in the press box thought it hit the top netting, but the referee ruled that it did not cross the line.
The last portion of overtime was a yellow card laden affair, but Chula Vista outlasted FC Tucson for their very first US Open Cup win.
“My concern was, could we last 90 minutes?” said Chula Vista FC coach J. Hector Diaz. “Then, we had to last a little bit longer. That was the difficult part. We were lucky to get the win.”
“It means a lot. It’s something special,” he said about winning the Open Cup. “These kids understand the importance of the Open Cup…they see the FA Cup and know that this is something special for us.”
Chula Vista FC moves on to face Arizona United SC in Scottsdale on May 20.