The Los Angeles Wolves punched their ticket a third straight Lamar Hunt US Open Cup with a dominant 4-0 victory over Buena Park FC at Championship Stadium, at Great Park in Irvine, Calif.
Though Buena Park put up a spirited effort toward the end of the game, the damage had been done. The Wolves’ possession game was uncontested by the Buena Park forwards early on. The Wolves’ center back pair of Carlos Figueroa and Mason Klerks was free to distribute the ball to the midfield where Buena Park were left wanting in their efforts to maintain possession. The Wolves fired on all cylinders from their wing backs Henry Escobar and Joel Ampofo to the speedy Sory Keita playing in defensive midfield position.
Far and away, the most dynamic player in attack was midfielder German Alfaro who reveled in the time and the space the Buena Park midfielders gave, keeping their distance from him, fearing a close contest would result in him playing the ball around them.
All four Wolves goals were scored in open play. Cesar Rivera started off with a pair of goals. He struck first in the 12th minute off of a Dimitry Zhuravlev assist and again in the 21st minute after an errant parry from Buena Park keeper David Padilla, giving the Wolves a 2-0 lead at halftime.
Alfaro came out fast in the second half, engineering a breakaway before receiving a sideways assist and beating the keeper. Zhuravlev scored their last in the 89th minute.
The Wolves’ shutout was nearly spoiled in the 82nd minute when Buena Park’s Nathan Darosa was fouled in the penalty area. A Grant Carlson penalty kick was turned away by Wolves goalkeeper Cesar Ortega who leaped to his right with arms outstretched. He parried the ball out of danger to maintain the clean sheet.
Throughout the match, Buena Park’s passing was disjointed, their forwards never quite fast enough to pursue a long ball option. Their attacking runs usually consisted of midfielder Darosa running into any space on the field which was covered effectively by the Wolves’ back four, preventing one-on-ones with Ortega.
Buena Park coach Arturo Gutierrez was not disappointed with his team’s performance, saying he was glad to have made it to the third round having beaten UPSL’s Santa Clarita Storm in the previous round.
For the Wolves, however, it was another day at the office. The organization can rightly be proud that they consistently perform well, and the players have nothing but time to hone their game and make another positive impression when the First Round of the Cup resumes next spring. The Wolves have reached the Third Round in each of the last two years and will hope to take the next step.
2018 US Open Cup Qualifying – Win & You’re In
Buena Park FC 0:4 LA Wolves
Cesar Rivera – 12th min.
Cesar Rivera – 21st min.
German Alfaro – Early 2nd half
Dimitry Zhuravlev – 89th min.
BPFC 6:9 LA
BPFC: Valdemar Vera 67th min.
BPFC: Scott Locken 75th min.
BPFC: Jesse Funes 77th min.
Referee: Osvaldo Delgado
Assistant Referees: Alex Luttman, Maria Magana.
Fourth Official: David Ramirez