A small delay and muggy weather didn’t stop the Austin Aztex as they made quick work of some old rivals Wednesday night in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
The Aztex scored a goal in each half, and advanced to the Third Round of the 102nd edition of the US Open Cup for the first time as a professional team with a 2-0 win over the Laredo Heat of the USL’s Premier Development League (PDL). They’ll go on the road to face defending NASL champions San Antonio Scorpions in the next round.
Austin head coach Paul Dalglish said he made eight changes from Saturday’s 3-2 USL regular season loss to Arizona United SC.
“When you’ve scored, you’re in front and with the pace we’ve got in the wide forward areas we were just counter attacking and waiting to hit them on the counter,” Dalglish said. “We wanted to be expansive and the only thing in cup competitions is winning the game, and we did that.”
Laredo came out of the gates on the attack, pushing the tempo and trying to get in behind the compressed Austin defense. Three times early in the first half, the Heat were caught offside.
Austin turned the tide as the clock ticked toward halftime. Austin defender Max Gunderson found forward Andres Cuero on the right side of the box, and it was an easy chip of the Heat keeper to take a one-goal lead.
Laredo didn’t give up though. After winning a corner, Jesus “Chuy” Cortes whipped a ball into a box filled with Heat players, but despite getting three good headers, none had enough power to beat Austin goalkeeper Devin Perales.
Even though the Heat came out with purpose in the second half, Austin slowed the game down and seemed content with a one goal lead.
Laredo had other ideas, and went in hard on a few challenges. After picking up a yellow card in the first half, Laredo defender Adam Butler was subbed out in the second half after a challenge that looked like it should’ve been a second yellow.
“The rivalry is historical between the two organizations,” Dalglish said. “It’s a cup competition, so you’ve got to leave everything on the field. They wanted to try and win the game, and sometimes emotions spill over, but we want it to be competitive.”
Austin finally capitalized on the counter, and with just two Heat defenders behind the ball, Trevin Caesar squared a ball in front of goal for an easy tap in for Brian Fekete to double the score. The small crowd chanted ‘Dos A Cero.’
The Aztex will travel to San Antonio for their Third Round match with the Scorpions on May 27, who they beat 4-1 in the final game of the preseason.
Dalglish said not only is it important to keep advancing further in the Open Cup, especially in the club’s first full professional season, but the NASL side will be looking to get back at Austin for blowing them out in March.
“They’ll be looking for revenge,” Dalglish said. “And with it being a local derby, I imagine we’ll play a much stronger lineup. That will be a big one to try and win for Central Texas bragging rights.”