Longtime NPSL star Nacho scored in the 88th minute, breaking a 1-1 deadlock and helping host Miami United defeat Boca Raton FC 2-1 in Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Second Round action last night at Milander Stadium. Miami United will host the North American Soccer League’s Jacksonville Armada next Tuesday evening in the Round 3.
Throughout most of the second half, it appeared that the visitors from Boca Raton would score the winner, as they created multiple chances through forward Gio DiMauro and marauding fullbacks Nickardo Blake and Jason Fitzgerald as the hosts played deep and tried to withstand the pressure. But in the 88th minute, Miami United forced a turnover and launched a brilliant counterattack down the left, with a cross splitting two defenders and finding Nacho, who calmly dispatched the ball into the left corner of the net.
“It was a close contest, a great game,” Nacho said after the game, with a large group of Miami United fans just yards away chanting his name in sing-song fashion. “We were able to win the ball and win a one on one wide, and I hit the shot well. It’s a great feeling to help win this game for my teammates and the fans.”
Early in the game, it appeared Miami United would control proceedings. Mattias Menza scored on a rocket of a volley in the 7th minute to put the hosts ahead, and Boca Raton struggled to deal with Miami’s pressure in the midfield zones. The visitors slowly settled themselves, however, largely due to the effective runs of fullback Nickardo Blake, and nearly leveled the game at just past the half hour, when a long Blake run found forward Gio DiMauro who forced Miami United goalkeeper Carlos Alfaro to make a strong save.
The visitors kept coming, however, and were rewarded with an equalizer in the 57th minute. Boca’s Shadi Harb was fouled on the right of the area, and the ensuing free kick found a charging Stefano Bontempo, who buried a close-range chance for the tie.
Eleven minutes later, Boca Raton appeared to win a penalty on a handball after a lengthy sequence of possession led to a shot from distance, which was deflected twice off Miami United hands. There was no call, however, setting the stage for Nacho’s late game heroics.