The Dutch Lions FC scored two goals in a 64-second span early in the second half and cruised to a 3-1 win Wednesday over the North Texas Rayados in a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup first round matchup.
Jose Pablo Covarrubias had a goal and an assist for the Houston-area squad and Jesus Cortes added two assists for the Dutch Lions playing in their first ever US Open Cup contest.
The Dutch Lions, which play in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), earned a second round matchup May 17 against USL side San Antonio FC, which had a first round bye. The match is tentatively scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff at the Dutch Lions FC Soccer Facility.
“We are putting our name on the map,” said Dutch Lions forward Covarrubias.
One of just three returning starters Wednesday from last year’s Dutch Lions squad that went 11-2-2 in NPSL play, Covarrubias got the Dutch Lions going in the 54th minute when his low cross from the left flank was flicked home by Lawal Olayimika.
Just seconds after the restart, Cortes forced a turnover in the midfield and found Covarrubias all alone behind the Rayados defense. Covarrubias calmly slotted the ball into the net for the 2-0 lead in the 55th minute.
“The defender was having trouble controlling the ball,” said Cortes, the oldest player on the Dutch Lions roster, turning 28 this year. “I saw him struggling a little bit and took advantage of the opportunity.”
Rayados, making their fifth US Open Cup appearance in six years after missing out last season due to a technical disqualification prior to the first round, sliced the lead in half just a minute later on an own goal by the Dutch Lions defender Remy Broekmans, whose attempt to clear a screaming cross was buried into the net.
Despite that hiccup, it was all Dutch Lions in the second half as Rayados could not mount a sustained attack. Even with the one-goal lead, the Dutch Lions continued pushing forward.
“We took some risks by pushing people forward but in these cup games that is what you have to do,” said Covarrubias.
All the pressure finally paid off in a third goal in the 90th minute as Dutch Lions midfield workhorse Jerry Scholman gathered in a Cortes pass inside the 18 and beat the Rayados keeper with a crisp shot.
Dutch Lions FC manager Marco Pruis was happy with his team’s performance in their first game of the 2017 season, especially since many of the players had not played together before today. It was evident in the first half that the team is a work in progress.
“Today we had three returning starters in the line-up so we can do only better,” said Pruis. “In the first half I rated them a 6 out of 10 but the second half grew towards an 8.”
Both Covarrubias and Cortes said the uneven first half was a result of being so early in the season and the fact that many players had never been on the field together before.
“Some of the guys had never played together before but we got the chemistry going,” said Covarrubias, a Mexico native who went to high school just down the road in The Woodlands and plays at St. Edward’s University in Austin where he led the Hilltopers in goal last season with nine.
“He’s a local kid with an amazing skill level,” said Pruis of the 21-year-old Covarrubias.
There wasn’t much action in the first half but both keepers were called upon for big saves to keep things scoreless.
In the 19th minute, Christopher Escalera nearly put Rayados ahead when he muscled a defender off the ball and fired a shot at Dutch Lions keeper Marc Skytte Olson who made a sprawling save with his legs.
In the 40th minute, the Dutch Lions started putting the pressure on with Felix Verhaar forcing Rayados keeper Eduardo Sanchez to make two fine saves on one series in the box before the ball was cleared away.
Sanchez also shut down another great Dutch Lions scoring chance in the 72nd minute when he save a Scholman shot.
Rayados didn’t have a lot of possession in the second half but the Dallas area club had a chance to tie it up in the 85th minute when Victor Pinal’s free kick from about 28 yards out was slotted onto the foot of Gerardo Salas but he was unable to get off a shot thanks to a quick recovery by the Dutch Lions defense.