Minnesota United and Saint Louis FC square off in the 2016 US Open Cup. Photo: Henry Hauck | HHFooty.com
The Third Round of US Open Cup play came to Saint Louis for the second year in a row in a repeat matchup between Saint Louis FC and Minnesota United FC. The two sides played their style of soccer for two thirds of the match without scoring, but it was Minnesota United that made the least mistakes down the stretch and scored a pair of late goals to avenge last year’s loss with a 2-0 win.
The first half came and went with a few dangerous looks from each team, but in different ways. Minnesota, who was upset in last year’s matchup in penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw, kept the ball on the ground while Saint Louis typically sent the ball through the air.
The physical contest got a little more heated in the second half as both teams attempted to gain an edge. This brought a sleuth of fouls drawing many a “boo” from the home crowd.
However, said fouls cannot be directly blamed for the goal that came in the 68th minute. Fullback Parker Maher was dispossessed by Kevin Venegas in the midfield with a timely defensive press. Christian Ramirez found Venegas, who immediately bolted for the goal, where he was able to put in a calm and collected goal past the charging goalkeeper, Mark Pais.
Saint Louis coach, Dale Schilly, continued to bring on impact subs to try and make up the difference. He officially went all-in on the attack when striker Vince Cicciarrelli came in for fullback Richard Dixon in the 78th minute. Saint Louis dominated the game from this point on with many corners after well-thwarted attempts on goal. Unfortunately for them, it was the attack that was St. Louis’ undoing.
Minnesota’s new signing, Jack Blake, was able to capitalize on a counterattack, which was very effective as St. Louis was very dedicated to the attack at this point. Danny Cruz made a great run down the wing to the goal line and sent the ball across on the ground to the aforementioned Blake who was on a late run. And that’s how the previous year’s upset was redeemed.
Minnesota United FC gets a chance at an upset of their own when they face Sporting Kansas City at home on June 15. United will attempt to do something they have only done once before: defeat a pro team. The only professional team they have beaten, as well as the only time the club has won multiple games in a single US Open Cup, was in 2012 when they won their second game of the tournament on the road against Real Salt Lake.