2019 US Open Cup Qualifying: Former pros, familiar faces put Cal FC back in tournament

Posted by | April 8, 2019
Romario lomeli from Cal FC celebrates a goal as part of a 4-1 win against Santa Ana Winds in the Fourth Round of the Open Division Local qualifying tournament for the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Victor Friedman

Romario Lomeli from Cal FC celebrates a goal as part of a 4-1 win against Santa Ana Winds in the Fourth Round of the Open Division Local qualifying tournament for the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Victor Friedman

Cal FC outclassed Santa Ana Winds FC by a score of 4-1 on Sunday at the Lake Forest Sports Park in Lake Forest, Calif. The “Win & You’re In” qualifier sent Cal FC back to the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup for the first time since 2015, and Winds FC back to the drawing board.

Cal FC, a team best known for their 2012 upset of Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers, was an all-around better squad, from the opening minute. They pressed defensively as a unit, had a surgical, vertical counterattack and held possession more effectively. The Thousand Oaks, Calif. side pressed high causing much confusion and, especially, imprecise vertical passes from the Winds FC back line to the midfield. Cal FC effectively shut down that circuit, and contained the Winds midfield. Santa Ana was forced to play lob after lob from their defensive line, at best hoping to connect with a forward.

A player from Cal FC takes a shot against Santa Ana Winds in the Fourth Round of the Open Division Local qualifying tournament for the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Victor Friedman

A player from Cal FC takes a shot against Santa Ana Winds in the Fourth Round of the Open Division Local qualifying tournament for the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Victor Friedman

“Really pleased to get a positive result against a very good team,” said Cal FC head coach Keith Costigan. “I thought we created a number of chances and scored some really good goals. We also defended well as a group and limited the Winds’ chances.”

Cal FC scored the opening goal in the 16th minute on a lob to the center striker German Alfaro who broke the Winds FC defense and blasted a shot from distance to put them ahead 1-0. Winds FC had the misfortune of burning two substitutes due to injury and accumulated only one corner kick and one shot, with two yellow cards, by the end of the first half.

Santa Ana started the second half more aggressively and brought on striker Jordan Gorman, creating the more dangerous chances and showing life to start the half, but Cal FC capitalized masterfully in the 48th minute on Winds FC’s aggressiveness. Very soon after the Santa Ana side was looking like the one near scoring, Alfaro received a pass from Richard Menjivar, a former USL veteran who was part of the 2012 Cal FC team. Menjivar found Alfaro and he launched a volley from about 30 yards out to beat the Winds goalkeeper to double the lead.

Winds FC made it a game in the 56th minute, on a brilliant chip shot by Gorman brought Santa Ana to within one. The Orange County team had its moments of good attacking play, but their defense appeared discombobulated 10 minutes later in what resulted in the best goal of the night.

That Cal FC goal began when the Winds defense failed to man mark on a Cal FC corner kick. A corner kick found its way all the way through to opposite corner where a Cal FC player tracked it down and crossed to the far post. No one was there to meet the ball so former UC Riverside star Romario Lomeli ran onto it and launched a right-footed blast from a tight angle that ended up in the upper corner inside the far post to make it 3-1 in the 66th minute.

Cal FC put the game away about a minute later as they took advantage of a disoriented Winds FC defense. They used precise passing to break down the backline and ultimately Danny Barrera, who was the 2012 TheCup.us Lower Division Player of the Tournament for Cal FC before moving on to play in the USL, created the goal. Barrera unselfishly played a ball across to former Chicago Fire midfielder Orr Barouch who tapped in the team’s fourth goal in the 70th minute.

Josh Hakala also contributed to this report

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