The Des Moines Menace and San Antonio FC battle for the ball in the 2016 US Open Cup. Photo: Antonio Rodriguez
San Antonio FC’s inaugural run in the US Open Cup continues on to the Major League Soccer round after having to travel to face one of the modern tourney’s most prolific amateur sides on their home field.
With seven of their 14 all-time tourney wins over pro clubs, including a 2-0 win over the USL’s Tulsa Roughnecks back on May 18, the Des Moines Menace had reason to come into Wednesday’s Third Round match with San Antonio FC confident for win number eight. Though the Menace would strike first, the offensive effort from San Antonio would finally prove to be too much and the Menace fell 2-1.
San Antonio would dominate possession early as the Menace brought numbers back to withstand the early assault. That traffic in front of the Des Moines net made it difficult for SAFC to get close to the goal. As well, strong defensive play from Des Moines’ Eddie Cass on the right flank deflated a number of SAFC’s chances.
San Antonio would finally get the first major scoring chance as Carlos Alvarez found space just inside the box and sent a ball ringing off the post. The rest of the half saw the sides battle at midfield for loose balls but neither being able to sustain much pressure. They’d go to the half scoreless.
In the second half, Des Moines would come out much more aggressive and organized. SAFC’s Alvarez would end up showing some frustration in the 57th minute after a hard foul on Raul Gonzalez, earning a yellow. Two minutes later, Christian Flath would open scoring for the Menace with a curling free-kick out of reach of the San Antonio keeper and in the right side of the net.
Both teams made subs with around 25 minutes left and play picked up as Des Moines nearly added to their lead in the 69th minute as Eddie Cass knocked a header off the crossbar. Then in the 71st minute, Austin Ledbetter earned a yellow card and free kick for San Antonio. Sam Mcbride would get a head on the kick from Alvarez and evened the match with less than 20 minutes o play.
San Antonio would take the lead in the 81st minute as Shawn Chin dribbled along the end line & fed the ball to the top of the box to Jacques Francois, who knocked it in the goal’s bottom-right corner for what would prove to be the game-winner. Francois was also integral in both of SAFC’s goals in their last tourney game against the Corinthians of the NPSL.
With time running out, Des Moines upped the pressure in search of an equalizer. Des Moines keeper Nico Campbell came forward and assisted play from around the midline. Though the Menace sent some late chances toward the goal they couldn’t get the late goal. The charge would be subdued in the 89th minute, as Elvir Ibesevic, would earn a red in the midst of traffic in front of the San Antonio goal.
Now with wins over Corinthians FC and Des Moines, San Antonio moves on to the Cup’s Fourth Round. They’ll make the three-hour trek up Texas’ I-10 to Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium to face the MLS Dynamo on June 15.