Boston’s Kendall Wanderers moved into the First Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup for the first time in the Bay State Soccer League club’s long history with a 2-1 win over Mass United.
This season’s BSSL runners-up enjoyed more possession and chances than their United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) opponents in steady rain at Dilboy Stadium in Somerville, Mass. The Wanderers survived a late scare and held on to clinch a spot in the 105th edition of the tournament which is scheduled to begin in May of 2018.
Dave Sheehan broke the deadlock six minutes before halftime as the Wanderers left back ventured down the flank and chipped the advancing United keeper with a finish that was hacked clear in desperation, but had crossed the line. Mass United might have leveled deep into added time with the last kick of the half by Mohamed Saeed saw a chance roll agonizingly across the face of goal.
United had strong penalty claims for handball waved away after 62 minutes but Kendall had begun to take the upper hand with left wing raids through Francis Mulhern twice causing problems. In the 67th minute, Ian Sweeney saw a clear chance parried away and the loose ball fell to Mitch Justice, who was unable to react to the quick rebound, his finish deflected away for a corner.
Kendall Wanderers’ pressing paid off in the 73rd minute when the same three players combined to take a 2-0 lead. Justice picked up a loose ball 40 yards from goal, found Mulhern racing down the left, and his low cross was directed home from close range by Sweeney, formerly of Athlone Town of the League of Ireland.
Two minutes from fulltime, Mass United could have halved the deficit through Majid Saeed but he was unable to capitalize. However, United made the second half’s three minutes of injury time interesting, when a curling finish from Jeff Thomas wide on the left found the back of the net. That late goal would be too little, too late as the Wanderers would clinch a spot in the US Open Cup for the first time.