Amer Sasivarevic of OKC Energy FC celebrates his goal in the 51st minute against NTX Rayados in the Second Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Lori Scholl
Oklahoma City Energy FC was able to exact a measure of revenge in the Second Round of the 2019 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, dropping visiting NTX Rayados FC, 3-1, at John Crain Field on the campus of the University of Oklahoma. The win avenges OKC’s loss to Rayados in the Second Round of the 2018 edition of the Open Cup.
“The way the Open Cup gets set up, you play a bit geographical,” said OKC head coach Steve Cooke. “Last year, I think it ended up being a great night for us because it changed a lot of mentalities in our locker room. In turn, that changed our mentality tonight.”
After a scoreless first half, Energy FC’s Amer Sasivarevic and Christian Eissele scored on either side of Christian Okeke’s lone goal for NTX Rayados. Je-Vaughn Watson put the finishing touches on the win with a goal in stoppage time.
Oklahoma City had the better chances in the first half and were unfortunate not to find a breakthrough in the opening frame. In the final 15 minutes alone, OKC had three chances, but were stymied either by Rayados goalkeeper Emannuel Frias or the post.
Frias did well to make up for going the wrong way on a shot from Sasivarevic in the 30th minute, making a last-gasp kick save to maintain parity in the match. Energy FC followed that up with Kyle Hyland’s effort from outside the box in the 43rd minute that caromed off the cross bar before Alexy Bosetti saw his free kick from 19 yards out saved.
“These are not easy games, don’t kid yourself,” said Cooke. “They came here to win the game.”
OKC finally drew first blood in the 52nd minute after earning a corner kick. Alexy Bosetti teed up the corner, with Sasivarevic nodding it home from six yards out to give Energy FC a hard-earned 1-0 lead. For Sasivarevic, it was extra special to get a goal in his professional debut.
OKC Energy goalkeeper Bryan Byars comes off his line to make a play on the ball against the NTX Rayados in the Second Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Lori Scholl
However, the lead was short lived as Rayados drew level just 10 minutes later. After being sprung free for a long run, Christian Okeke finished low to Bryan Byars’ near post in the 62nd minute. The goal would shift the momentum to the North Texas club’s side briefly, but they were unable to capitalize. Okeke, normally the team’s super sub, made a rare start in the game. Last year, he came off the bench in all four Open Cup games for the Rayados, scoring four goals, one late equalizer and three game-winners, which made him a finalist for TheCup.us Lower Division Player of the Tournament.
Sasivarevic, who was industrious all night, made sure OKC went up for good after getting taken down in the box and earning his side a penalty. Eissele stepped up to the spot and emphatically finished over the outstretched arm of Frias in the 81st minute to put Energy FC back on top. Watson converted on OKC’s second penalty in stoppage time after Omar Gordon was taken down by Frias Ramirez in the box on a solo run.
As a result of their win, OKC advances to the Third Round of the Open Cup for the fourth time in five years when they host Tampa Bay Rowdies on May 29.
“Any time you get to test yourself against the best it’s a good night,” Cooke said. “Tampa Bay Rowdies have a storied history. To get a game against probably as good a team as there is in the league right now is going to be great for us.”