Home side FC Golden State Force eased past visitors Los Angeles Wolves in the First Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup by a score line of 3-1 at Rio Hondo College in Whittier, Calif.
Absorbing some early offensive pressure by the LA Wolves, GSF struck first against the run of play through a goal by Marcelo Manifredini in the 16th minute of the first half.
“They’re a pretty good possession team, so we kind of invited them to come play in our half a little, and then we were going to counter. And that’s how we got two out of the three goals, and it worked,” FC Golden State Force midfielder Jose Carrera-Garcia said.
Despite losing veteran center back Erlys Garcia-Baro in the 36th minute, the Force kept up the pressure through the half and maintained their counter attacking game plan.
“We have a big group with a lot of really good players who can step in. When the next players came in, there was no difference. We trust everyone in the group, everyone plays well and we just have to work hard and support each other,” Carrera-Garcia added.
If not for some defensive heroics by LA Wolves defender Mason Klerks, the score line could have easily been 3-0 going into the half. Klerks managed back to back clearances off of the goal line the 25th minute and provided a goal saving tackle in the box in 34th minute.
“The last 10 minutes of the first half, they had us on our back,” LA Wolves head coach Felipe Bernal said. “It seemed like they could’ve put one in at the end of the first half, but we managed to get away with that. I think that was the worst part of the game for us,”
It didn’t take long for the Force long to pick up where they left off in the first half, as they struck early in the second half through a 56th minute goal by Allisson Faramilio as the LA Wolves failed to clear their lines after a Golden State corner kick.
The LA Wolves remained in what seemed like defensive damage control early in the second half and the Force attack was able to break through with another goal in the 69th minute by Amilcar Lopez-Ruiz.
Having switched to a two forward attack in the middle of the second half, Jose Gomez was able to pull one back for the Wolves in 84th minute off of a long thrown in.
Despite Golden State seemingly dominating long stretches of the match they only outshot the visitors by 12-10 margin, but the LA Wolves lacked the finishing touch.
“Second half, we created some opportunities over here, but nobody closed up to tap it in” Bernal concluded. “Unfortunately, that’s the way it goes. You know soccer, it’s not how many opportunities you create, it’s the opportunities you take advantage of.”