Neither gloomy weather nor a change in venue could keep the visiting Long Island Rough Riders of the PDL from earning a comfortable 2-0 victory over FC Sonic Lehigh Valley of the NPSL in the opening round of the 2012 US Open Cup.
Goals from Thomas Wharf and Shaun Higgins in the first half were enough to propel the Rough Riders into a second round matchup against USL Pro side Harrisburg City Islanders. The Rough Riders will be looking for some revenge, as Harrisburg knocked them out of the tournament in 2010 by a score of 1-0.
Unlike Long Island, FC Sonic had no prior Open Cup experience. They finished second in the NPSL Keystone Division last year, but qualified for the tournament when division champion Erie Admirals decided not to participate.
Instead of being held at the normal home field of FC Sonic at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., strong rains forced the game to be moved to a turf field at Whitehall High School several miles away. However, the change did not affect the visitors, as it was Long Island with the first chance of the game in the 10th minute. After FC Sonic replied with a shot of its own, the Rough Riders took control of the game.
In the 19th minute, Wharf got his head on a free kick and put it in the back of the net. Just three minutes later, Long Island doubled its lead when Higgins got on the end of a cross from James Mulligan. The 30-year-old Higgins’ goal gave the Rough Riders a 2-0 lead that FC Sonic could not overcome.
With neither team being able to make a breakthrough in the second half, both coaches decided on a change of emphasis. FC Sonic coach Dave Weitzman opted for a more attacking approach, bringing in two forwards in for two defenders. Long Island coach Paul Roderick, on the other hand, brought on two defenders in exchange for a forward and a midfielder.
In the end, the changes made little difference, and FC Sonic could muster only one real chance toward the end of the game. Long Island earned its fourth Open Cup victory and improved to 3-2-0 against amateur clubs all-time.
Long Island – Thomas Wharf (Assist?) – 19
Long Island – Shaun Higgins (James Mulligan) – 22
Discipline: FCS – Brandon Turner (caution, 23)