Kevaughn Frater of New Mexico United celebrates his game-tying goal in second half stoppage time against the Colorado Rapids in the Fourth Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Corbin Elliott | Prost Soccer | Twitter: corbinse69
Kevaughn Frater’s late equalizer would prove to be the biggest moment of the night as New Mexico United forced extra time tied at 2-2 and defeated the Colorado Rapids 4-2 in a penalty kick shootout to advance to the Round of 16 in the 2019 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
New Mexico United joins Saint Louis FC as the only two remaining USL Championship (Div. 2 pro) clubs remaining in the 106th edition of the US Open Cup. United will travel to FC Dallas (MLS) in the Fifth Round on June 19. The winner of that game will play on the road against Minnesota United FC (MLS) or the defending Open Cup champions Houston Dynamo.
In a fast and brilliant start by both teams, it would take just three minutes for Devon Sandoval to open the scoring in the game. Off a corner kick, Santi Moar’s header fell to Sandoval’s left foot, who slotted near post in the goalmouth scramble.
Despite the early setback, Colorado spent mere seconds in trying to craft a response.
Taking the kickoff straight down the field they would set up a corner of their own. From there, Colorado would apply the pressure for the next 15-20 minutes. In the 24th minute, Axel Sjoberg was booked for the first time for a tackle on Chris Wehan on a breakaway.
Sam Hamilton of NMU would be booked in the 34th minute for a tackle that would set up a free kick for Colorado near the center circle. From that free kick, Lalas Abubakar would flick a centering ball straight to Diego Rubio, who made no mistake with his free header to level the score from about seven yards away.
The Rapids would go into halftime on the front foot, but play was almost even for the first 45 minutes.
The second half start was nearly the photo negative of the first half, Nicolas Mezquida found the back of the net on the stroke of the 47th minute. In a another goalmouth scramble, the ball popped on to Mezquida’s foot and found its way past three defenders and goalkeeper Cody Mizell, to put the home side in front.
In what was ultimately a very chippy contest – five yellow cards per team – the disciplinary moment of the night was Axel Sjoberg’s second yellow card in the 72nd minute for another challenge on a breakaway, this time the fouled player was Kevaughn Frater.
Cody Mizell of New Mexico United makes a save in the penalty kick shootout against the Colorado Rapids in the Fourth Round of the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Corbin Elliott | Prost Soccer | Twitter: corbinse69
The Rapids would not be quite the same side they had been for the first 72 minutes. Colorado did have a few chances to seal it but without their big man, Sjoberg, none came to fruition.
The man advantage allowed Wehan, Frater, Moar, Sandoval and Bruce to take turns creating chances, the last two having disappeared for noticeable chunks of the game. United had started dominating the middle third in the lead up to the red card; they would own it outright after that.
Sandoval missed a chance right as the game ticked into stoppage time, with the help of a Clint Irwin save. A few minutes later, Frater would pick up the ball 45 yards out and start a steaming, determined run to the top of the box and lash a low shot into the back of the net five minutes into stoppage time.
New Mexico controlled all 30 minutes of extra time, with the Rapids having seven or eight players behind the ball at times. With no more scoring, it was off to penalty kicks.
After Acosta and Frater traded goals in the opening round, the Rapids’ Danny Wilson had his shot saved by Mizell to give the visitors a 2-1 lead after two rounds. Keegan Rosenberry (Colorado) and Devon Sandoval (New Mexico) each converted their third round attempts, so when Sam Nicholson skied his shot over the bar, it proved to be costly. Chris Wehan followed that up with United’s fourth penalty kick goal which punched their ticket to the Round of 16 by the score of 4-2.