Cal FC poses for a team photo before they take on Cal United FC II in the Open Division Local qualifying tournament for the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Cal FC
The rematch of the third round Open Division Local qualifying tournament for the 2019 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup between Cal FC and California United FC II was an epic grind. Cal FC defeated Cal United in penalty kicks by a score of 7-6 after a 1-1 draw on a cold and rainy night at the Orange County Great Park Soccer Complex in Irvine, Calif. The Cal FC defense was resolute throughout and was able to contain a high-scoring Cal United team.
With the win, Cal FC, who are best known for their run in the 2012 US Open Cup where they upset a pair of pro teams, including the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer, advances to the fourth and final round of the qualifying tournament. They will take on fellow Southern California-based UPSL club Santa Ana Winds in a “Win & You’re In” match in early April.
“I’m proud of the effort of the entire group,” said Cal FC head coach Keith Costigan. “To be down to a squad of just 13 because of players signing pro contracts and still compete with a side of the caliber of Cal United FC is a testament to the effort of these young men. We had one [training] session to work on a game plan and the boys implemented it to perfection.”
The original match was played on Nov. 18, 2018 in Thousand Oaks, Calif. but with the match tied at 2-2, the stadium lights turned off in the 89th minute. This was due to a local curfew ordinance, so the match could note be finished. The two teams had trouble agreeing on a date until agreeing to Jan. 16, when the match was replayed in its entirety.
Cal FC got on the scoreboard first on a Romario Lomeli corner kick that was headed in by Salomon Wbias in the 5th minute. This was a welcome goal for Cal FC, given their limited roster. From that point on, the Cal FC defense clamped down, blocking shot after shot as a compact unit. Whenever Cal United managed to break the Cal FC defense, Kevin Marquez came up with some heroic saves to keep Cal FC in the fight. Marquez had at least five saves in the match.
Cal FC maintained that 1-0 lead into the second half when Cal United managed to gain long spells of possession and control of the match, creating numerous chances and, missing the net by inches at times.
Cal United’s best chance came around the 70th minute when a player was tripped in the area, leading the referee to point to the spot. Cal FC head coach Keith Costigan disagreed with the official and was sent off for arguing the call. Moments later, Miguel Sanchez-Rincon stepped up to take the PK, but it was saved by Marquez to preserve his clean sheet.
About 12 minutes later, another trip in the penalty area led to another PK, but this time Cristian Gordillo put it past Marquez to level the match in the 82nd minute.
The Cal United onslaught continued in overtime, and this provided space and counterattacking opportunities for Cal FC, but they couldn’t capitalize on them. On one counterattack, Cal FC strung together some short passes in the area that provoked a penalty kick call late in the second half of overtime. The match could’ve been decided there, but the kick taker, Jadilson Da Silva Vieira hit the crossbar.
The penalty kick shootout required eight rounds to decide a winner with Cal FC taking the first attempt. In Round 2, Cal FC had their attempt saved by Cal United’s Kifi Cabrera, which led to a dramatic attempt in the fifth round. With the score tied 4-4, Cal United had a chance to win the shootout but their fifth attempt struck the crossbar. Both teams converted their attempts until the eighth round when Marquez blocked Duncan Capriotti’s attempt to send Cal FC into the final round of qualifying.