One of the early features in Wednesday’s Lamar Hunt US Open Cup first round pitted two of the more uniquely-named teams at one of the more interesting venues in this year’s tournament. The Villages SC (PDL) of The Villages, Fla. hosted Kraze United (NPSL) of Orlando at The Villages Polo Field, stunning their guests after 91 minutes of scoreless soccer on a last-minute goal to move on to the second round.
Playing their first home game ever after taking the spot of the disbanded Ocala Stampede in the US Open Cup tournament, The Villages SC is a mainly Brazilian outfit that goes by the nickname “The Buffalo.” Kraze United, for its part, has been around since 1999, won the USL PDL National Championship in 2004, and features mainly college players from Florida, with a smattering from schools as far away as The University of Chicago and Amherst College.
In spite of their lack of previous experience playing together, the Buffalo started the match by sending several warning shots within yards of the Kraze goal. After the 20th minute, though, the Kraze found themselves and started to gain more possession and assume the run of play.
The Kraze put opportunities over the bar in the 23rd minute off a free kick and in the 26th minute on a Lucas Kuscevic header off a cross by midfielder Omar Vallejo.
In the 27th minute, the Kraze midfield sent another diagonal cross in from the left side which found Kevin Rockwell at the backpost. Paolo Pita, Buffalo’s goalie, was completely beaten as Rockwell placed a perfect bicycle kick into the lower corner for what would have been a guaranteed goal of the round. Unfortunately for Rockwell and the Kraze, the linesman’s flag snapped immediately into the air and the referee ruled the play offside.
Play remained back-and-forth for the rest of the half. The Kraze showed intelligence in possessing and switching the side of play, but the counterattacking skill of several Buffalo midfielders troubled the guests.
Roberto De Lima, arguably the man of the match for The Villages, consistently split the Kraze defense with incisive passes. The Kraze resorted to physical play to stop the quick parries by De Lima and Carlos Vitor Alvarenga. The half still ended deadlocked 0-0.
After attacking down the left through Vitor Alvarenga in the first half, The Villages SC switched him to the right in the second. De Lima seemed to be everywhere as he recovered Kraze turnovers and looked dangerous whenever he was able to connect with Alvarenga.
After Alvarenga subbed out in the 58th minute, ceding his spot to Cristian Martinez, The Villages lost momentum. For the rest of the half, the Kraze dominated the midfield as the Buffalo slowly retreated into their own half to pack the final third in front of their goal.
In spite of close efforts by the Kraze as Keneil Haye cut the ball back from the touchline in the 75th and 85th minutes, the Villages defense held steady. After the 75th minute, the Kraze resorted to more long-distance shots in an effort to penetrate the packed but tired Buffalo defense.
As regulation time ran down, it seemed like the game was headed into overtime. The Kraze were looking for the winner, and with their defense stretched, De Lima split the defense yet again from the midfield stripe, finding a streaking Pedro Ivo Dias on his way to goal. Dias took the ball in stride to the left of the Kraze goal and calmly struck the ball past the charging Marco Lujan into the lower far corner, sending the Villages bench into frenzy.
Two minutes later, the victory was in the record books. In the second round, The Villages SC will face off against the USL’s Charleston Battery on May 18th.