Kyle O’Brien (orange) of Santa Ana Winds battles for the ball in a 2018 US Open Cup qualifier against the San Pedro Monsters. Photo: Santa Ana Winds
Santa Ana Winds FC made club history by qualifying for the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup for the first time, in their second attempt. The club defeated the San Pedro Monsters FC of the SoCal Premier League by a score of 4-1 at the Lake Forest Sports Park in Lake Forest, Calif.
Winds FC fell one game short of qualifying to the 2017 Open Cup, but much has changed from then until now. Most importantly, the club has found a consistency that has eluded them in the past. Continuity has been the key to their success as of late, in both UPSL play and Open Cup qualifying.
Winds FC got on the board in the 15th minute on a header by striker Kramer Runager. Two minutes later, he assisted striker Jordan Gorman on his first goal of the night. With Santa Ana up 2-0, the club got itself into trouble with disciplinary calls, first with an early yellow then with a red card in the 22nd minute. San Pedro took advantage of their man advantage to get one back on a header by Francisco Ramirez on a pass from Yoni Garcia in the 43rd minute.
With the momentum seemingly in San Pedro’s favor, Gorman came through again for Winds FC, this time in the 66th minute on a left-footed shot, assisted by midfielder and attack orchestrator Kyle O’Brien. Runager sealed the win for Santa Ana in the 84th minute with his second goal of the night on a fortuitous deflection in his favor caused by a Winds FC shot on goal, blocked by the San Pedro goalkeeper.
After the match, Winds head coach Jose Lopez attributed his club’s win to, “Doing the same things we’ve been working on in the last three to four months. We were mentally strong. We didn’t have to make any changes, and we were confident coming into this match.”
Santa Ana Winds FC returns to UPSL play, where they sit in fifth place behind regional powerhouses LA Wolves, OC Invicta, Orange County FC and La Máquina at the time of this writing with a record of 3W – 1L – 3T, while they await the draw for their First Round 2018 Open Cup opponent. Two of Winds FC’s three ties came against Invicta and La Máquina.