FC Denver celebrates after the club’s 4-1 win over Gam United FC in their 2019 US Open Cup qualifier. Photo: FC Denver Twitter
FC Denver advanced in the Open Division Local qualifying tournament for the 2019 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup after eliminating local rival GAM United on a freezing Sunday night on the Metropolitan State University soccer stadium in downtown Denver. It has not yet been announced if this is the last qualification match necessary before the tournament proper begins in 2019 however, Denver has now eliminated Indios FC, Harpos FC and GAM United and are the last Colorado-based amateur club, and the last United States Sports Specialty Association (USSSA) team remaining in the tournament.
Cesar Castillo and Alex Bernhardt led the way with a goal and an assist each as FC Denver moves on step closer toward qualifying for the second year in a row, and the second time in club history.
From the first whistle, FC Denver was on the front foot holding possession, finding their way around the GAM fullbacks and testing GAM goalkeeper Prince Goma. Denver’s early efforts paid off in the ninth minute when winger Cesar Castillo delivered a perfect cross to Alex Bernhardt who headed in the opening goal.
Ten minutes later, Lashaw Salta delivered a left footed cross to Fernando Magallanes who trapped the ball with his chest and scored a half volley goal directly in front of the net.
In the 27th minute, midfield maestro Castillo curved a free kick around the GAM wall and into the bottom right corner of the goal to give Denver a 3-0 lead before the half-hour mark of the match. Just when it looked like FC Denver would cruise into halftime, GAM United’s Michael Sarpong scored off a quick counter attack to keep the visiting team within striking distance.
Through the second half, FC Denver continued to possess the ball and pin back the GAM backline. The front three of Magallanes, Castillo and Bernhardt would often shift positions popping up in dangerous positions for right back Kyle Crouse or midfielder Miguel Escobar to find with a line breaking pass. Head coach Drew Melin credited the “very fluid front three, that kept the defense guessing” to the consistent pressure generated.
In the 71st minute, FC Denver nearly scored again with a number of shots rattling the crossbar and eventually drawing a penalty. Goalkeeper Prince Goma made two quick saves in a matter of seconds saving Castillo’s penalty shot and then quickly jumping back up to save the second attempt.
Moments later FC Denver scored the final goal when Castillo served a long free kick to the near post where Alex Bernhardt flicked the ball to the back post where an unmarked Jon Lister was able to settle and score to put the game away.
After the match, Melin added that the effort from each FC Denver player was fantastic and they are looking forward to whomever they are paired with next in the Open Cup.
“We set a goal as soon as we lost to the Switchbacks last year that we want to get back to that point (US Open Cup Second Round) and build on that each year”
Melin credited Alex Bernhardt as the man of the match as he led his team one step closer to qualify for the US Open Cup for the second year in a row.
“He was everywhere,” said Melin. “Up on offense and defensively, he got a goal and an assist, he played his best game for the club”
Jim Coppock also contributed to this report
FC Denver Starters
U# First Last
14 Alex Bernhardt
3 Cesar Castillo
17 Tyler Chauncey
8 Kyle Crouse
6 Marco Escobar
5 Peter Jacobson
11 Fernando Magallenes
12 Joel Miller
1 Michael Moberg
4 Nabil Odulate
7 Lashaw Salta
19 Ryan Bernhardt (dnp)
13 Paul Hogan
9 Troy Hudson (dnp)
2 John Lister
18 Drew Melin (dnp)
20 Jacob Peterson (dnp)
16 Christian Weaver
Gam United Starters
U# First Last
10 Ajok Gai Abiar
9 Nana Boakye
17 Inza Cisse
4 Karrar Fouad
1 Prince Goma
3 Emmanuel Gymafi
12 Saad Hissein
22 Ibraheem Latona
47 Michael Sarpong
2 Karim Soumah
24 Carson Swope
20 Francis Afropong (dnp)
24 Sajjad Alfatlawi (dnp)
7 Alex Amador
19 Solomon Appiah
27? Francis Appio (dnp)
11 Brice Goma
18 Kodzovi Woglo (dnp)
9 FCD 14-Alex Bernhardt Assist: 3-Cesar Castillo
22 FCD 11-Fernando Magallenes Assist: 7-Lashaw Salta
27 FCD 3-Cesar Castillo free kick
39 GAM 47-Michael Sarpong Assist:
78 FCD 2-John Lister Assist: 14-Alex Bernhardt
FCD 57’ Out: 5-Peter Jacobson In: 16-Christian Weaver
70’ Out: 11-Fernando Magallenes In: 2-John Lister
80’ Out: 7-Lashaw Salta In: 13-Paul Hogan
GAM 61’ Out: 9-Nana Boakye In: 11-Brice Goma
74’ Out: 10-Ajok Gai Abiar In: 16-Abdou Mbaye
79’ Out: 4-Karrar Fouad In: 6-Alex Amador
GAM 60’ Yellow 9-Nana Boakye
GAM 72’ Yellow 4-Karra Fouad
GAM 90+ Yellow 1-Prince Goma