Diego Restrepo of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers is in position against the Richmond Kickers in the 2016 US Open Cup. Photo: Kelsey Hinds
Ft. Lauderdale goalkeeper Diego Restrepo made three saves over 120 minutes then saved three of four penalties to lead the Strikers past the Richmond Kickers (USL) 2-0 on penalties after drawing 1-1 in the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
His performance has earned him TheCup.us Player of the Round award. It’s the first time that goalkeepers have won the award in three straight rounds.
Restrepo is the second Striker to win the award after Paulo Araujo Jr. earned the honor in the First Round in 2010 when the team was known as Miami FC. While an American who has represented the United States at the youth international level, he is the first Venezuela-born player and just the second NASL player to win the award, following Scott Goodwin of the Carolina RailHawks in 2014.
The award is voted on by TheCup.us staff and the a select panel of the North American Soccer Reporters.
With 90-plus degree temperatures, high humidity and a 30-minute lightning delay midway through the second half, he said the more than 120 minutes on artificial turf was one of the toughest atmospheres he’s played in throughout his career.
The game was the first game of the Modern Era to finish with a 2-0 scoreline in a PK shootout, and is just the second game where a team failed to score in the shootout. (2010 Third Round: Charleston Battery vs. Chicago Fire)
Restrepo made his Open Cup debut in 2013 with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, when he ended the Seattle Sounders’ all-time record 22-game unbeaten streak with a 1-0 win in the Third Round. He helped the Rowdies beat VSI Tampa Bay in 2014 and won a pair of Open Cup games with the Charlotte Independence last season.
The Strikers finished the NASL spring season with a 2-1 loss on the road against the Edmonton FC on June 12 and were sixth in the standings, three points behind first place Indy Eleven. Ft. Lauderdale travels to face DC United in the fourth round on June 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Maryland Soccerplex.