In a tightly contested, win or go home First Round matchup of the 2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, it was FC Tucson who prevailed over La Maquina FC 2-1 on a 55th minute go-ahead goal from midfielder Alejandro Gonzalez.
The victory ensures FC Tucson advances to the second round of the US Open Cup for the third year in a row and will hit the road to face Las Vegas Lights FC on May 16.
After a rather sluggish first half in which the two teams battled to a 1-1 tie, the second half of play saw La Maquina FC open with possession and a different attitude, as the guests came out energized and hungry for a go-ahead goal.
However, it was FC Tucson that was able to drive in the game-winning goal in the 55th minute on a curling cross from midfielder Julian Gaona to Gonzalez.
“We had talked about getting the ball wide at halftime… and I thought Julian (Gaona) delivered a great ball,” FC Tucson coach David Cosgrove said. “Alejandro (Gonzalez) made about a 30 yard run to get to the back pole and he wasn’t too tired to get to the ball and knock it down.”
To start off play in the first half, it took less than two minutes for play to heat up in the first round matchup between FC Tucson and La Maquina FC at Kino North Complex in Tucson, Ariz. on Wednesday.
FC Tucson forward Jason Romero got in behind the La Maquina FC defensive backline and received a through pass from defender Gavino Carranza. From that point, Romero had only the keeper to beat and slotted in the opening goal through the legs of La Maquina FC goalkeeper Luis Sosa for the 1-0 lead just 80 seconds into play.
Two minutes later, midfielder Damian German had his own one-on-one with the goalkeeper and just missed the right post on a curved shot past the outstretched arms of Sosa.
“We thought there would might be a chance to get after them in the first five or 10 minutes and… I thought they would come out with more energy, and they didn’t,” FC Tucson coach David Cosgrove said. “So that gave us an opportunity to build and, of course, we got an opening goal…. but i wish we would’ve kept going. We got that goal and I felt like we could’ve had a couple more.”
Nearly everything went in favor of FC Tucson for the opening 30 minutes of play and it looked as if the home team would be well on its way to an easy first round victory over La Maquina.
However, the good favor ended in the 32nd minute of play when La Maquina FC forward Alejandro Velazquez received a through ball behind the FC Tucson backline and drove in the equalizer on a richotted shot off the top crossbar over FC Tucson goalkeeper Andreu Cases to tie up play at 1-1.
La Maquina nearly added in the go-ahead goal in the 41st minute when Velazquez saw a headed goal off a corner disallowed for a handball. Players and coaches alike rose in an uproar as referees conferred and confirmed the goal would be disallowed.
For a match that was played fairly clean for the opening 75 minutes of play, there sure was a lot of pushing, shoving and frustration over the final 15 minutes on Wednesday night.
La Maquina FC was shown four cards on the game (three yellows and one red), with the red card coming in stoppage time. Already playing on a yellow card, midfielder Jorge Pineda aggressively took down a FC Tucson player and was shown a straight red card.
It didn’t take long for controversy to strike again, with a hard foul coming from La Maquina as soon as play restarted, with FC Tucson players and coaches voicing their displeasure on the sideline.