Leaving it late, FC Golden State Force played the role of giant killer again as they took down USL expansion side Las Vegas Lights 2-1. Golden State found an extra gear late, and cherished the role of the underdog. They controlled most of the game, putting the pressure on Vegas throughout, even when a Lights equalizer would have sent most amateur teams scrambling to park the bus and hope for a slip-up in a penalty kicks.
With the win, FC Golden State Force becomes the first PDL team since the 2012 Michigan Bucks to upset back-to-back professional teams in the tournament. Furthermore, the Force also make history as the 13th amateur side (15th open division team) to reach the Fourth Round of the competition. They will earn a date with a team from Major League Soccer in the next round and will attempt to do something no open division team has ever done in the Modern Era: advance beyond the Fourth Round.
Unlike last match vs. Orange County SC, Golden State took the initiative and pinned Las Vegas into defensive third of the pitch. The Force could have taken the lead early on, as Lights keeper Ricardo Ferrino saved a curling effort shot by Amilcar Lopez-Ruiz. The home side then had another chance to score as Sami Vilalva hit a shot just wide of the post, and Christian Torres rattled a shot off the crossbar in the 32nd minute. While failing to find the net, they clamped down on Las Vegas in the defensive end, limiting their chances on goal.
The second half saw Las Vegas start to control the match. While they didn’t carve out any chances, they forced Golden State to clear the ball out of danger, but right back to the Lights. The visitors finally had a golden chance to go in front, as Marco Cesar hit a point-blank shot over the bar from six yards out. Later, Golden State finally had a chance on a counterattack, as Vialva caught the ball and put a left-footed shot just wide of the post. The Force finally broke the pressure and started sustaining an attack, and finally hit paydirt in the 76th minute. Allisson Faramillio continued his Open Cup magic, curling a shot past Ferrino to put the home side up 1-0.
The Lights continued their attack, however, earning a corner kick, and Joel Huiqui evened the match ten minutes from time. However, instead of bunkering in, Golden State continued their attack. A minute into stoppage time, the Force earned a penalty kick, and Faramillio was able to score the game-winner. This puts the Man of the Match at four goals in the Open Cup, tied for second place. He scored another brace against Orange County SC in the previous round.
Manager Robert Friedland was overjoyed as the result. He spoke about the performance of his team, “We just have to stay focused and stay on our task and keep our eye on the prize…I’m proud of my team and they impress me more every day. Tonight was a massive result.” He was also excited about the likeliness of playing against an MLS team, stating, “It’s thrilling, to be in the fourth round, to do our job, and get the chance to be able to do that, we are the Cinderella story.” They will be facing another strong side in the next round, but the Force are excited by the task ahead.