Will Vicente has never been to Oklahoma.
But that’s where the Moreno Valley FC owner/coach is headed with his team after Wednesday night’s 2-1 win over the host Ventura County Fusion (PDL) in the First Round of the US Open Cup.
“I think it’s the beauty of soccer,” Vicente said. “We started a project and we have big goals. It’s just amazing that we won a game in the US Open Cup.”
Javier Castro and Norberto Ochoa scored goals in the opening 20 minutes and Jose Mirada saved a late penalty kick as the two-year-old United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) club hung on to advance to a Second Round trip to face the United Soccer League’s Oklahoma City Energy.
“That’s the best thing ever,” Vicente said about advancing to play a professional team. “It’s a dream come true for us.”
The loss was a bitter reunion for Ventura County, who was making its eighth straight US Open Cup appearance, as they fell to a team that started four former players at its home at the Ventura College Sportsplex.
Miranda, Castro, fullback Ruben Rodriguez and midfielder Edgar Gonzalez were the former Fusion players playing in Moreno Valley’s orange jerseys.
Castro put Moreno Valley on the board in the 16th minute after latching onto a misplaced backpass and finishing simply.
Four minutes later, Moreno Valley doubled the lead when Ochoa smashed home a volley from 12 yards after the Fusion failed to clear a corner kick.
“That was what we wanted to do,” Vicente said. “The first two times we attacked, we scored. And then we were able to defend the game until the end.”
After a slow start, the Fusion gradually built some momentum, outshooting Moreno Valley 16-3.
“We created plenty of chances, there’s no doubt about that,” Ventura County coach Rudy Ybarra said. “But we didn’t finish them and, you know, we end up even missing a PK.”
Two minutes after Miranda saved an 89th minute penalty kick, Fusion attacker Kevin Feucht capitalized on a defensive mistake to pull Ventura County within 2-1 late.
The Fusion won a free kick in the sixth and final minute of stoppage time, but it flew over the crossbar.
Falling behind early was just as troubling to Ybarra as the missed chances. “But you look at the two big mistakes we made and they capitalized on them,” Ybarra said. “Those are two big blunders. Those guys finished them well. Yeah, he ripped that second one with a volley, but it
should have been taken care of before then.”
Miranda was excellent, making seven saves plus the PK stop. “Pepe is one of a kind,” Vicente said of his goalkeeper. The loss was the second straight to start the season for the Fusion,
who opened USL Premier Development League play Saturday with a 3-0 home loss to San Francisco City FC.