The sun pelted all in attendance during the Buena Park FC’s Second Round 2018 US Open Cup Qualifying match against FC Santa Clarita on Sunday, Oct. 22. It was 94 degrees at kickoff at John F. Kennedy High School in La Palma, Calif. in what turned out to be a rugged, scrappy match for both sides. But it was the home side Buena Park FC of the So Cal Premier League that defended their rugged, natural grass pitch most effectively, grinding out a 3-1 win over the UPSL side.
The hero for Buena Park was Justin Funes who scored all three goals for the home side to send the club into the final round of qualifying for the first time. This is a nice redemption for a club that in the pervious two qualifying tournaments crashed out in the opening round in both years. Both of those games were played on their same home field (JFK High School), both to the same opponent (Outbreak SC), and both with one-sided scorelines (5-1, 5-0).
Now, after back-to-back home wins in this year’s competition, BPFC are one win away from punching their ticket to the US Open Cup.
Buena Park got on the board in the 19th minute when Grant Carlson snuck behind the backline on a throw-in. Carlson collected the ball and sent in a cross that was redirected by Funes into the back of the net. About 10 minutes later the game was tied thanks to an individualistic effort by FCSC midfielder Brandon Cando. It would be all the UPSL side would get given the scrappy Buena Park defense that fought off every FCSC onslaught, header and breakaway. BPFC was absolutely resolute in their box.
Buena Park went up 2-1 in the 40th minute when Scotty Locken split the defense and fed the ball to Funes who put the ball between the keeper’s legs for his second goal. FCSC didn’t quit before the halftime break as they battled back to hit the post before time expired.
Just like his first two goals, Funes completed his hat trick thanks to some good ball movement from his teammates. Jonathan Rojas beat a pair of defenders on the right wing and crossed the ball to Nathan Da Rosa who trapped the ball and fed Funes, who hit a one-timer with his left foot to beat the keeper in the 62nd minute.
FCSC continued to fight to get back in the game. The Storm missed two really clear chances including a late missed penalty kick and a direct shot on goal. FCSC was also denied a free kick goal on a great, outstretched stop by Buena Park goalkeeper David Padilla, late in the game.
Buena Park FC weathered all the elements thrown at them, resolutely, from the pelting heat, a rugged pitch and a battling opponent to emerge victorious and move on to the Third Round of 2018 US Open Cup qualifying.