FC Denver outscored Colorado Premier League rivals Azteca FC, 4-2 in their first ever appearance in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
FC Denver jumped out to a big lead after the first half. FCD’s number ten Cesar Castillo scored the first of his three goals in the 28th, Alex Berhardt headed in the second goal in the 37th off a long free kick, and Castillo made it 3-0 in the 55th minute.
Just when it looked like it might be a blowout, Azteca knocked in a goal of their own from Jesus Munoz in the 57th minute.
The match was marred by Azteca midfielder Adrian Gutierrez’s reckless open field hit on FC Denver center back Kyle Heppenstall who left the field in an ambulance with a severe concussion in the 75th minute. According to FC Denver’s social media, Happenstall was released from the hospital later that night and is recovering.
In the 74 minutes preceding the reckless play that led to the serious injury, the game was riddled with foul after foul. A total of 22 fouls were called, many, more were not called.
After the ambulance left the field a total of 16 minutes was added to the match. During this time Azteca FC had a brief moment of resurgence when Roberto Aguilera pounced on a temporarily saved free kick, bringing the match to within a goal, 3-2.
Despite Azteca’s physical tactics, man of the match Cesar Castillo had no problem weaving around and creating space in the Azteca defense. Castillo scored his third goal in what would be the last kick of the match in the 96th minute.
This victory was the first ever US Open Cup match for FC Denver. For Azteca FC, this was the club’s second appearance in the Open Cup including last year’s first round loss at FC Wichita. Up next for the victors, an away trip to Weidner Field to play second division professional side Colorado Springs Switchbacks.