The Elm City Express extended their cup run to Round 3 of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup with a 2-0 defeat of Seacoast United Wednesday night. Two second half goals from Elm City winger Shaquille Saunchez were all the Express needed as Seacoast United could not find the breakthrough goal.
The game kicked off with a showcase of attacking movement from Elm City, but Seacoast was putting on a defensive clinic in the early moments of the match. As the first half begun to settle down into a back and forth affair, both teams began to get physical and the first yellow card of the game was shown to Elm City’s Tyler Carlos in only the 10th minute.
As the first half continued, the physical play from Elm City’s midfield allowed them to control the middle of the park and spread balls out to their flanks. This tactic exposed Seacoast’s back three and lead to several goalmouth scrambles. Only dropping further back to get behind the ball allowed Seacoast to get in at the half with the score line level at zero.
Most of the second half played out as it had in the first, with Elm City continuing to be a physical presence in the middle. The home side did carve out some possession in the final third and looked to threaten Elm City early in the second half but the Express back line, lead by Graciano Brito, defended well and limited Seacoast to a handful of chances.
There then followed a period of home team attack, forcing Seacoast United Keeper Mitch Steadman into several key saves to keep the match level. Elm City continued to pour forward and broke through with a Shaquille Saunchez shot from the top of the six yard box in the 81st minute.
Seacoast began to press, looking for an equalizer to force extra time but again the high press and physical play of the Elm City midfield proved to be too much for the Phantoms. After turning over the ball in the middle of the field, Express sprung a quick counter where Saunchez scored his second of the night.
From there, Elm City looked to close out the game, locking down their defensive third to all but guarantee a trip to the Third Round. Tempers began to get better of many the Seacoast players and they found themselves down to ten men in the final moments after a Daniel Bennett red card.
This win sends the Elm City Express down to South Carolina for a date with Charleston Battery of the United Soccer League.