Celtic Cowboys Premier and North Texas Rayados line up before their 2017 US Open Cup qualifying match. Photo: Adam Uthe
Behind a pair of goals from Javan Goncalves Toledo and Gerardo Salas, the North Texas Rayados cruised comfortably to a 7-0 win over Celtic Cowboys Premier in the first round of qualifying for the 2017 US Open Cup. The North Texas powerhouse, no strangers to qualifying for the Open Cup out of Dallas, is looking to bounce back and return for the 2017 edition of the tournament after they were disqualified from the 2016 Cup for not playing in their league’s 2016 Spring season.
Rayados captain Tito Salas did say that the disqualification left the team feeling disappointed and motivated to move on.
“For me personally, it left a hole … we’re always looking to improve and test ourselves against the next level in [the Open Cup itself].”, he said after the game.
The Rayados looked like a well-oiled machine as they passed circles around Celtic and controlled possession for much of the game. That shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise though, since Rayados typically recruit from Dallas-area colleges to fill out their roster. Celtic, conversely, as their name might suggest, are an Austin-based sport and social club founded in 2004 with a distinctly British flair and it showed throughout the game. They played with ten men behind the ball for much of the game and relied on a lone striker up top to try and get on the end of long balls over the top.
Midway through the first half, Rayados had frustrated the visitors to the point that several Celtic players began shouting at one another in frustration.
Not long after Celtic’s internal bickering began in the first half, NTX captain Tito Salas found himself in space 25 yards from goal and curled an exceptional shot into the upper right hand corner of the goal to give his side the breakthrough goal they had been well on their way to earning. Several minutes later, they earned their third corner of the first half and the set piece found the found center back Javan Goncalves Toledo, who calmly beat the keeper with his head. Salas found himself in the box again moments later, but his chip shot hit the crossbar and was subsequently cleared away, thus ending the first half.
Salas said he didn’t expect his goal to beat the goalkeeper.
“I mean, look at him…”, he said gesturing towards the Celtic keeper, who did appear to be all of six feet, three inches tall.
The second half started promising for Celtic. They registered their first shot on goal right out of the gate, but any momentum was quickly quashed as Toledo scored his second of the night, this time from a free kick after a hard Celtic foul. Midfielder Victor Pinal then added a fourth, crushing a powerful shot upper 90 from the edge of the box. The Salas goal parade continued for the home side as Luis Salas added the fifth and Gerardo Salas added the sixth and seventh goals to finish off the game for good.
Had they not been disqualified, NTX Rayados would’ve made it to their fifth consecutive tournament, a Modern Era (1995-present) record for an open division amateur team. Instead, they’ll have to “settle” for five out of six if they can make it to the 2017 tournament.