A second half goal from Matt Greer was the difference on a muddy day in the Philadelphia suburbs in a 1-0 win for West Chester United over Vereinigung Erzgebirge (VE) that put the club one step closer to qualifying for the 2019 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
Greer, who was one of the standouts in West Chester’s run to the National Amateur Cup final in August, found the breakthrough in the 57th minute when Chas Wilson fed him a ball into the box he was able to calmly put past VE goalkeeper Tim Washam.
The lead was not undeserved given the pressure and the attacking talent on display for West Chester, but VE had chances of their own they weren’t able to put away in a scrappy back-and-forth clash that featured a flurry of whistles and several players losing their footing in the muddy surface.
“The way the game flowed if you make a mistake in the back that’s how it’s going to be won,” VE head coach Rob Oldfield said after the match. “I thought we played pretty good — I think these are still the best two teams in the state.”
The rivals, which finished first and second in the majors division standings of the United Soccer League of Pennsylvania last season, are familiar foes with history as opponents in the amateur ranks. Several players on the field either played together or against each other on local division 1 college teams.
So it was no surprise that the margin would be narrow and the competition fierce from the opening whistle.
Greer, a former Dartmouth and Philadelphia Union Academy midfielder had been threatening throughout the day with some strong runs through the middle of the VE defense before capitalizing on the best chance either side had on the day to open the scoring 12 minutes after the break.
“It seemed like the play just opened up,” Greer said. “I made a pass off to Chas, he did a good job feeding it off; I think the conditions may have played a part because the center backs couldn’t recover, there was a big pocket and I was able to get one on one with the goalkeeper.”
West Chester United head coach Blaise Santangelo called the rivalry between the teams “ridiculous.”
“Last time we were here they beat us in the Werner Fricker Open Cup so we have a ton of respect for them,” Santangelo said. “I think we were the better team on the day but it was a battle.”
With the win, the Predators return to the second round of local qualifying for the fourth straight year after losing last year to Phoenix SC and Christos FC in the second round in 2017. They qualified for the Open Cup for the first time in club history through local qualifying by winning two rounds in 2016.
“We’ve been so close to qualifying for the Open Cup in so many competitions throughout the year,” said captain Michael Gonzalez. “This tournament means a lot to us and it’s one of our biggest goals every season to get to that first round.”
Sunday’s match at VE was one of two on the day for USL of PA teams. Ukrainian Nationals advanced in the other game against United German Hungarians, 2-0, and will host West Chester United on Sunday, Oct. 21 at the Ukrainian American Sports Center in North Wales, Pa. in Round 2.