Players from Forward Madison (right) and Bavarian SC race to the ball in Tuesday’s First Round match in the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Forward Madison
Plucky underdog stories are the heart of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
Amateur side Bavarians SC from Milwaukee, with eight stars on their kits and a 90-year history, took that spirit into a first-round matchup with pro side Forward Madison FC from USL League One on Tuesday night in Milwaukee. They were reminded that while plucky is great, often it just is no match for a more polished professional unit.
Forward Madison rode first-half goals from Brandon Eaton and Jiro Barriga Toyama to a comfortable 2-0 victory in chilly, windy conditions at Uihlein Soccer Park before a crowd of about 400. It was just the second time in the Modern Era (1995-present) that two Wisconsin teams had met in the US Open Cup (2003 Round 3: Bavarian SC vs. Milwaukee Wave United).
With the win, Forward Madison visit USL Championship squad El Paso Locomotive at 7 p.m. MDT on May 15 in the second round.
Sporting a 2-2-1 record in their debut season, Forward Madison deployed a side without Paulo Junior and three other regular starters who are on loan from Minnesota United of Major League Soccer. Despite that, they controlled possession through the first half, playing with a 20-mph wind at their backs.
The first goal, however, sprung out of very little. Eaton spied some space about 20 yards out in front of goal. His curling shot was not particularly hard, but it just seemed to catch Bavarians keeper Augie Rey leaning the wrong way and the visitors led 1-0 on 9 minutes.
Bavarians avoided big mistakes, but were punished giving the ball away in midfield later in the first half. Don Smart, formerly of Indy Eleven, and Milwaukee native JC Banks worked together to counter, and Smart’s ball across the goal found Toyama, who poked it in for a 2-0 lead in the 36th minute.
A promising spell of second-half possession by Bavarians — who were playing their first competitive match of the season — ultimately yielded nothing. Madison was too organized and too physically and technically superior; the pink-clad team never made the error under pressure in the back that would have led to a chance for the amateur side.
The Bavarians didn’t inconvenience Forward Madison keeper Brian Sylvestre until less than 10 minutes remaining, but then did so twice in two minutes. Logan Andryk battled to find a little space from his defender inside the area, but his effort from a tight angle to the left scooted across the face of goal. Substitute Leki Prpa had a crack from a similarly tight angle on the right in the 83rd minute, but Sylvestre turned it away.
Forward Madison comfortably saw the match out from there, earning their first victory in the US Open Cup. The Bavarians, who are the defending UPSL National Champions, return to league play on Saturday against DeKalb County United.