The first US Open Cup Final was played in Brooklyn. But on Tuesday evening, the Brooklyn Italians of the NPSL were the first club to travel to Maine with GPS Portland Phoenix of the PDL being the first side to represent the state according to TheCup.us records. The trip was worth it as they returned to the Big Apple with a 3-2 victory.
The Brooklyn Italians’ extra practice from starting their season earlier seemed to pay off as they were sharp and clinical from the outset despite having to travel to Maine for the game. The Italians pounced on an ill-prepared Portland defense when Nathaniel Simons nodded a header home in the fifth minute off a ball played by forward Oscar Castillo.
Just two minutes later the Italians doubled their advantage on a free kick by midfielder Christian Turizo from about 30 yards out, giving them a 2-0 advantage over the Portland Phoenix at the break.
Portland stormed out of the break re-charged and made a real game of the second half. Even though Portland pressed, they were unable to find a goal in the early going of the second half.
In the 78th minute, Brooklyn Italians looked to be in the clear when striker Jumol Harewood scored his team’s third goal from a set piece.
However, mere seconds after the restart Portland Phoenix rallied to get one back as Nathaniel Short played in Blaike Woodruff in the 80th minute.
Unfortunately for the Phoenix faithful who showed up to the match in cold, wet conditions, the team left their comeback too late as Woodruff was unable to pull them within one until the 91st minute.
Brooklyn Italians walked out of Memorial Field at Deering High School with a 3-2 victory, giving the club a Second Round date with the famous 1999 tournament champion Rochester Rhinos of USL Pro, the last lower division team to win the event. Sahlen’s Stadium will be waiting with open arms to receive the NPSL team to compete for a chance to play against an MLS team.
The Brooklyn Italians are long-time Open Cup veterans. The New York City-based club, with a team now playing in the NPSL, lifted the trophy twice in 1979 and 1991. The team, founded in 1949 by Italian immigrants, has also appeared in two other Open Cup finals in 1981 and 1990. All of their cup success has occurred in the amateur era, before the creation of MLS, however.
In the first round last year, Brooklyn Italians were eliminated by another New York City amateur team, and in 2010 they were defeated by the Harrisburg City Islanders.