USL frontrunner San Antonio FC showed off its depth Wednesday night, resting nine starters in a 2-1 road win over the amateur side Dutch Lions FC in the 2017 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Second Round action.
First half goals by Victor Araujo and Aly Hassan were just enough for San Antonio FC which was making its 2017 US Open Cup debut after an opening round bye.
The Dutch Lions gave their fans something to roar about in the second half with Jerry Scholman’s goal in the 62nd minute and sustained pressure that resulted in a half dozen corner kicks but the NPSL squad couldn’t find the equalizer against San Antonio FC’s stingy defense.
San Antonio FC, the only unbeaten team left in USL play at 7-0-2 and now 8-0-2 in all competitions, will face USL Western Conference rival the Tulsa Roughnecks FC in a Third Round US Open Cup matchup in Oklahoma on May 31.
“What’s really rewarding to see: it’s always a team effort. It’s a real collective, a tight-knit group of players,” said San Antonio FC head coach Darren Powell, who pointed out that some of the reserves made the most of their playing time. “Two or three stepped forward tonight and seized their opportunity.”
Brazilian Araujo certainly stepped up in the 17th minute with a free kick goal from about 20 yards out to put San Antonio FC up 1-0. It was no accident that Araujo’s low skipping shot beat the Dutch Lions FC keeper to the near post.
“I saw that the keeper was cheating to the right so I told some of our players to stay in the wall blocking his view,” said Araujo.
The free kick was earned after a Dutch Lions FC giveaway forced a foul just outside the 18. It was another giveaway in the 41st minute that turned out to be the game winner as Hassan intercepted a back pass to the keeper.
“I was standing between the center backs, saw the back pass, read it, then took a touch and put it in,” said Hassan.
Dutch Lions FC head coach Marco Pruis said his team gave up “two silly, stupid goals” but that he was proud of his squad’s passion and determination in the second half.
“If you make a mistake against these guys, they will score,” said Dutch Lions FC captain Remy Broekmans.
San Antonio FC keeper Lee Johnston, making his first start of the season, had to make a nervy clearance of a ball out of play to prevent two Dutch Lions from reaching it with 90 seconds left in regulation and then was called upon to make a save in the second minute of stoppage time.
Both Araujo and Aly Hassan could have had two goals in the first half as each of them kissed a shot off the post with Hassan grazing the left post in the 15th minute and Araujo clanging a shot off the right post in the 43rd minute.
Dutch Lions keeper Marc Skytte Olson kept his team in the contest when he made a fingertip save of Maxi Rodriguez’s blistering shot in the second minute of the second half.
With Jesus Cortes and Jose Pablo Covarrubias pushing up the wings, the Dutch Lions FC cut the lead on a series where a dangerous cross bounced around the penalty area, a back-heeled attempted was deflected and finally Scholman, charging towards the net, redirected a clearance on the dead run off his body and into the net.
“We knew coming into the game we had nothing to lose,” said Covarrubias. “We wanted to give it a go and make it a game.”
Defender Ben Newnam and midfielder Rafael Castillo were the only regulars in the starting line-up Wednesday for San Antonio FC with both of them giving way in the second half to substitutes.
Among those resting were midfielder Billy Forbes and forward Cesar Elizando who have combined for 10 goals and six assists in nine USL games.
“It shows our team depth. Anybody can step on the field and get a result for us,” said Hassan.