Michael Salazar scored and had an assist, and Orange County-based amateur club PSA Elite of USASA withstood a late barrage to hang on for a 2-1 victory over the USL’s Orange County Blues FC at University High School.
It’s the second consecutive multi-point performance for Salazar, who had one goal and two assists in PSA Elite’s 7-1 First Round victory.
“We got the goals like we should have,” PSA Elite coach John Spencer said. “Two goals in the Open Cup when you’re playing a pro team isn’t easy.”
PSA Elite secured its second consecutive trip the US Open Cup Third Round with the victory.
“I don’t think we’re going to be a secret to anybody now,” Spencer said.
O.C. Blues had the best early chances but could not find a finishing touch. Amani Walker twice had shot attempts in the first five minutes, and Christofer Ramirez sent a 25-yard free kick just over the bar seven minutes later.
PSA Elite went on the counterattack in the 19th minute. Michael Sperber collected the ball near midfield and sprayed it to Will Lopez making a right-sided run. Lopez crossed the ball back across the face of the goal to Salazar, whose header hit the inside of the near post on its way in.
PSA Elite went into halftime with a 1-0 lead, and after again absorbing pressure early in the second half, went up 2-0 on Mats Bjurman’s second goal of the tournament.
“[Salazar] slipped it past the defender and I was clear through,” said Bjurman, who plays collegiate soccer at UC Irvine. “This is the level we know we can play at.”
PSA Elite made some changes to its defense before the game, with Jamal Wallace and Mitchell Bell starting at right and left back, respectively, in place of injured wings Robert Amick and Chance Gasper. Wallace forced the team to play down a man after he was sent off in the 82nd minute for a poorly-timed tackle.
“The red card is unfortunately but if you had told us we’d be up 2-0 I think anybody in the world would tell us we’re in great position,” Spencer said.
O.C. Blues forward Tyler Feeley was brought on late in the game and produced a 90th-minute goal off a long throw from Jimmy Turner to make it 2-1, but PSA Elite goalkeeper Wade Hamilton kept his team out of any other danger.
“That was a [heck] of a throw,” Hamilton said. “He threw it from the far side all the way to the other side of the [goal area]. We weren’t expecting that.”
Four minutes of additional time expired without another shot on goal.
O.C. Blues head coach Oliver Wyss declined to comment after the game.
“They’re pros [so] they should beat us every week,” Spencer said. “For tonight, we’re the best team in Irvine. That’s good. We can be proud of that.”