The magic of the U.S. Open Cup – anything is possible.
Despite a short turnaround from a league game on Sunday and going 120 minutes exactly one week ago, United Soccer League side St. Louis FC held on to advance in penalty kicks, 3-1 over Minnesota United FC after tying 1-1 through regulation and overtime.
The home team, in its inaugural season, now gets a shot at Major Soccer League side Sporting Kansas City in a battle of neighboring states.
The North American Soccer League’s Minnesota United, a recent winner of an MLS-bid, took the lead in the second half. Working the right wing, Ramirez smashed a curling effort off the far post. JC Banks finished off the rebound into the open net to give the visitors the lead.
Brian Gaul, who was sent off in the 118th minute after a clash with Brent Kallman, made his mark on the game in the 80th minute. His penalty kick — set up by a clattering slide tackle from Tyler Polak — hit the right side netting to equalize.
“I think tonight was our best performance of the season in terms of keeping the other team away from the goal and disrupting their rhythm,” St. Louis FC coach Dale Schilly said.
The shootout was held on the end nearest the home support group. Minnesota, shooting first, had Daniel Mendes’s penalty saved by St. Louis FC goalkeeper Mark Pais, followed by Ibson putting his effort over the bar.
“I just calmed myself and tried to remove all the distractions,” Pais said. “I waited until the very last second, and when I saw him open up his hips. It was in my range, and I could push it past the post.”
Miguel Ibarra put his effort in the back of the net, and his partner-in-crime Ramirez finished off the dismal shootout with his effort off the post. Ramirez’s shot sprayed out in the opposite direction, and Pais was mobbed instantly by teammates and fans in the corner.
St. Louis’ Brandon Barklage, Patrick Doody and Oskar Gasecki each put their shots in the bottom right corner to take a 3-1 lead before Ramirez’s attempt.
Gaul will miss his side’s game on June 16, when St. Louis FC crosses state lines to take on Sporting Kansas City in Kansas City, Kan.
Sporting Park has hosted the two teams St. Louis FC beat to earn the trip to the MLS stadium. The Des Moines Menace, which St. Louis beat in extra time last Wednesday, and Minnesota United, both fell to Sporting Kansas City by 2-0 scorelines in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
St. Louis FC ends a five-game home stint with its game Saturday at Louisville City FC, getting back into action before the Open Cup fourth round match. Minneosta will try to rebound with a win over league-leading New York Cosmos back in the NASL.