FC Baltimore Christos (NPSL) and West Chester United battle for the ball during their First Round 2019 US Open Cup match. Photo: Matt Ralph | Brotherly Game
On a picturesque Tuesday evening at Homewood Field on the campus of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, it took penalty kicks to decide the first round matchup between FC Baltimore Christos (NPSL) and West Chester United SC (USL of Pennsylvania). In the end, United edged the home team in penalties, 5-4 after a 1-1 draw and advanced to the Second Round of the 2019 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
The Predators advanced in the tournament away from home, marking the fifth straight game (including qualifying) that they have survived a knockout game away from home.
West Chester struck first and very early into the match, with an early headed goal from Troy Amspacher to the far post, assisted by midfielder Andreas Bartosinski. That goal put the Predators up 1-0, which gave them the lead and the momentum that they carried through until the halftime break.
As kickoff began in the second half, the sense of urgency seemed to rise for Baltimore, as the home team began to raise their tempo and put United on their back foot. The pressure eventually paid off in the 56th minute, as the home side equalized off of a booming shot from distance by defender Jake Dengler (setup by a pass from midfielder Eddy Rodriguez) that deflected off the keeper and into the back of the net.
Once the two teams were on even terms on the scoreboard, the rest of regulation and extra time were characterized by missed opportunities and a lack of touch in the final third. The two sides combined for 29 shots and nine shots on goal but only one goal a piece to show for it.
As the game went to a penalty kick shootout, the two teams remained deadlocked through the first five rounds, with the score tied at four a piece. Each team failed to convert on their sixth attempts on goal. After United’s Samuel Phelps slotted home his attempt to put his team up 5-4, Baltimore’s Charles Pulliam skied his attempt over the crossbar, to give West Chester the victory.
With the victory, West Chester United will move on to the second round of the US Open Cup competition, where they will go on the road for the sixth game in a row (including qualifying) to take on Birmingham Legion FC on May 15 at 8 p.m. at the BBVA Compass Field in Birmingham, Ala.