Saint Louis FC punched its ticket to the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup after dispatching 10-man FC Wichita (NPSL), 4-3 after extra time, at the Stryker Soccer Complex in Wichita, Kansas.
“The kids [FC Wichita] worked really hard for the team,” said St. Louis coach Preki. “They made it difficult for us. Anyone who comes here under these circumstances would have it hard.”
After seemingly handing his team defeat with a missed penalty kick at the beginning of second half stoppage time, Jose Angulo ultimately proved the visitors’ savior when he bagged his second goal of the game to make it 3-3 in the sixth minute of added time.
“Obviously, we came into a difficult place to play,” said Preki. “We were in a fight. We had so many chances in the first half, the second half and should have had some more goals.”
FC Wichita, representing the National Premier Soccer League, was seeking to become the second NPSL team in history to upset a professional team (Chattanooga FC remains the only team to do it). No NPSL team reached the Third Round, leaving the amateur league with a 1-40-3 (1-2 PKs) record against pro opposition. FC Wichita becomes just the seventh club to take a pro team to extra time.0-6-1 (0-1 PKs)
FC Wichita couldn’t have asked for a better start to the match. After receiving a square pass on a two-on-one break, Gordon Gurson was cut down in the box by St. Louis goalkeeper Devala Gorrick, receiving a yellow card in the process. Wichita captain Leo Sosa calmly stepped up to the spot, smashing the kick home in the top left corner to give Wichita a quick 1-0 lead in the sixth minute.
The visitors thought they had found the answer in the 21st minute, but Mark Weir proved equal to Milan Petrosevic’s low effort. The ensuing corner led to nothing.
However, St. Louis found better luck on their second corner of the match, which was earned after Matt Sheldon’s cross was cut out by the Wichita defense in the six-yard box. Petrosevic whipped in the corner and A.J. Cochran pounced on the ball to level the score in the 33rd minute.
Despite a few attacking forays by Wichita in the final moments of the opening stanza, the score would remain 1-1 in what proved to be a physical midfield battle.
An explosive second half made up for the drudgery in the first half. Pouncing on a rebound from Leonardo Catarina, Gurson reclaimed the goal advantage for Wichita in the 62nd minute. St. Louis again fought back, with Angulo levelling the match off a corner served in by Denis Ahmetovic in the 71st minute. Wichita’s Deri Corfe then unleashed a cannon from 25 yards out that bested Gorrick in the 81st minute for the apparent match-winner.
With St. Louis pressing forward in the dying minutes, Colton Haskin drew a straight red to preserve the victory when he swatted a slow-rolling St. Louis shot off the goal line. That set up the dramatic conclusion to the second half of play. Angulo quickly went from scapegoat to hero in the span of five minutes, missing the PK before heading home a cross, and regulation time ended level at 3-3.
Facing 30 more minutes and a enjoying a man advantage, it didn’t take for St. Louis to capitalize in the first extra time period. A cross sent in by Ryan Howe found Tyler David, who put it past Weir for St. Louis’ first lead of the match in the 96th minute. Wichita saw several good chances parried away as extra time marched on, but it wouldn’t be enough as the NPSL side bowed out to the professionals from St. Louis.
As a result of the win, St. Louis will head to Pontiac, Mich. to face the Michigan Bucks of the Premier Development League on May 31 at 7:30 p.m. EDT in the U.S. Open Cup Third Round. The winner will play the Chicago Fire (MLS) in Round 4.