Players from Saint Louis FC celebrate a goal against Forward Madison in the Third Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Saint Louis FC
For the first time in the club’s five-year history, Saint Louis FC earned a regulation win over a professional team in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. In Wednesday night’s Third Round match, Russell Ciccerone scored a 72nd minute goal to help Saint Louis FC pull away from USL League One side Forward Madison FC, 3-1.
With the win, Saint Louis will take on a Major League Soccer team for the third time in Round 4. The opponent will be revealed on Thursday morning at 11 a.m. ET when the United States Soccer Federation will announce the Fourth Round draw on Twitter.
Saint Louis FC jumped out to an early two goal lead against Madison as Paris Gee struck low past Brian Sylvestre after only two minutes. It was the fastest US Open Cup goal in club history.
Then Guy Abend doubled the lead four minutes later when he finished from close range off a Matt Bahner cross. It promised to be a long night for the Flamingos as Abend again curled a shot just over the Madison bar after 17 minutes.
However Daryl Shore’s team settled down and began to find their feet in the game and were beginning to find some success on the flanks and have some sustained pressure. A cross by Christian Diaz in the 23rd minute eluded right back Bahner and the header from Barriga Toyama went just wide of Tomas Gomez, making his first start of the season in goal. Just two minutes later the threat came from the other wing as Paulo Junior hit the post from a Jeff Michaud cross as Madison enjoyed their best spell of the game thus far.
Madison were richly rewarded, however fortuitously as Phan Kavita allowed a soft pass to skip under his foot and Don Smart raced onto the resulting loose ball to smash his shot past a stranded Gomez to half the deficit after 38 minutes.
The second half was almost a carbon copy of the first, only Sylvestre’s heroics saved Madison as he managed to scoop an Abend header from the line and a certain third for STLFC in the 49th minute. Madison tried in vain to get an equalizer but the Saint Louis defense were once again as stoic as they have been all season just allowing seven goals in 12 games and limited Madison to long range efforts which Gomez comfortably saved.
A third for Saint Louis was always on the cards and it came in the 75th minute. Russell Ciccerone and Lewis Hilton enjoyed some nice play in the midfield with Ciccerone’s shot blocked for a corner. It was the same combination off the corner as the Hilton inswinger was neatly headed home by Ciccerone for Saint Louis’ third on the night and put pay to any Madison fightback.
The game ebbed towards closure, however Coach Pulis was able to bring on academy product Nichi Vlastos for his second professional game alongside Kip Keller who made his first senior appearance for STLFC.
“We’ve had a stop-start month and I was glad we managed to get the rustyness out of us tonight.” Said Pulis after the game.”It’s a strange one getting two early goals, We started well, but credit to Madison they played some really nice stuff and caused us some problems, they’ll do well in League One going forward.”