It may not have been the friendly confines of AutoZone Park, but Memphis 901 FC sure they made Mike Rose Soccer Complex feel like home.
The complex is home to some of the biggest and best youth tournaments in the region, with a number of tournaments this spring having over 200 teams and requiring over 100 referees. It was also home to Memphis City FC for one season in the NPSL back in 2016. But on this night, with AutoZone Park playing host to a baseball game, Mike Rose was a fantastic, albeit temporary, home for Memphis 901 FC. Not only was co-owner and longtime Memphis resident Tim Howard in the house, but the Boys in Blue ran out 4-0 winners over Hartford Athletic to advance to the next round of the 2019 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
Jochen Graf scored a pair of goals to lead the way for the home team as Memphis becomes just the third Tennessee-based club to advance beyond the Third Round in the last two decades, joining Nashville SC (2018) and the Nashville Metros (1998).
In fact, the only hitch on the night was a technical error with the public address system during the national anthem but luckily the supporters in the stands took over and sang it themselves.
Like their last US Open Cup outing, the game sprang into life early on for Memphis 901 FC. Unlike the last game however, they were the ones jumping out to an early lead as Marc Burch dispatched a penalty in the sixth minute to give Memphis a 1-0 lead. For Burch, it was his first US Open Cup goal since 2008 when he scored a pair of goals to help D.C. United win the club’s second US Open Cup title.
Things got even better in the 21st minute as a dangerous Memphis free kick found the head of Graf who gave Memphis their second goal of the night.
The scoring chances calmed down after that and Memphis took a 2-0 lead into halftime.
It was more of the same in the second half as Graf bagged his second to give Memphis a 3-0 lead.
.@Memphis901FC cruised from the opening whistle & handed a 4-0 hammering to @hfdathletic to move through to the Fourth Round & a date with a side from @MLS (Fourth Round draw tomorrow 11 a.m. ET @OpenCup).
— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) May 30, 2019
Not too long after that, Hartford was reduced to ten men but Memphis wasn’t done yet as Morgan Hackworth got in on the fun seven minutes from time to make it 4-0.
One little oddity of the game was that Memphis has played two US Open Cup games ever and in both of them has had a player score two goals: Graf against Hartford and Josh Morton two weeks ago against New York Red Bulls Under-23s.
After the game, Coach Tim Mulqueen said it was nice to get off to a fast start and not have to chase the game like they’ve had to so many times this season.
Hartford’s coach Jimmy Nielsen is no stranger to the US Open Cup, having won it as a player in 2012 with Sporting Kansas City. But on the night, not even that level of experience was enough to keep the game close for Hartford. Despite having beaten them in league play earlier this year, Hartford was totally outmanned and outplayed by Memphis. Hartford really only threatened once the entire game and nearly made it 2-1 in the first half after some shoddy defending by Memphis on a corner kick, but Cam Lindley was able to clear it off the line.
Refereeing decisions were a point of contention on some level, but they all appeared to be correct. There was the penalty in the first ten minutes, three Hartford players and one Memphis player were cautioned and shown yellow cards for rough fouls in the first half. Memphis had what would have been their third goal of the night disallowed for a foul on the goalkeeper which resulted in the referee having to temporarily stop the game and have a word with Coach Mulqueen on the touchline (which he said after the game wasn’t much more than the referee telling him it was a foul). Things didn’t get any better for Hartford in the second half as Sem DeWit picked up his second caution and was sent off halfway through the second half.
Memphis now advances to the fourth round of the Open Cup, but do not know their opponent as US Soccer has not yet made the draw. Hopes are high that it will be an MLS team and be at home. Many in the local Memphis media finally began to pick up on the team when the prospect of an MLS team coming to town seemed like it really could happen.
Burch said that most of the guys relish a chance against an MLS team and he feels that if they just play their game the way they have been, they’ll have a good shot at pulling an upset against whoever they play. Whether it’s at home or on the road, Memphis could have the potential to spring a surprise upset and keep their magical run going.
Memphis 901 FC 4-0 Hartford Athletic
Mike Rose Soccer Complex – Collierville, TN
Goal: 6′, Memphis 901 FC, Marc Burch (pen)
Goal: 21′, Memphis 901 FC, Jochen Graf
Goal: 59′, Memphis 901 FC, Jochen Graf
Goal: 83′, Memphis 901 FC, Morgan Hackworth
Referee: Leland Grant
AR1: Benjamin Meyer
AR2: Ryan Starr
4th Official: Laura Waliski