Graphic by Harrison Huntley | @hhuntley17
Chula Vista FC defeated LA Monsters 5-4 in penalty kicks after 110 minutes of game time to earn an official spot in the 2020 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. It is now the third consecutive round that Chula Vista emerges victorious in a shootout.
As a result, Chula Vista FC becomes the first team since the current Open Division Local qualifying tournament was launched in 2015 to qualify for the US Open Cup with three consecutive penalty kick shootout wins. It also marks the third time the club has qualified for the tournament (2015, 2017), which is scheduled to kick off next Spring.
Chula Vista FC celebrate after winning a PK shootout against LA Monsters FC that clinches a spot in the 2020 US Open Cup. Photo: Steve Wood | Chula Vista FC
CVFC, hosting their third straight qualifier at Terra Nova Park in Chula Vista, Calif. (San Diego area), went into the half with a one-goal lead on a 34th minute free kick from Abraham Rodriguez who curled his shot over the wall, and into the back of the net.
After each team’s goalkeeper made a big save in the opening minutes of the second half, Chula Vista nearly doubled their lead in the 54th minute when Andy Salguero hit the crossbar on a shot from outside the penalty area. Two minutes later, the Monsters equalized off of a 1-v-1 opportunity which was successfully finished by forward Edward Robles Delgado.
After the equalizer, the Monsters took control, forcing Chula Vista goalkeeper Cristian Garcia to make another impressive save in the 66th minute. About five minutes later, Salguero, was tripped up in the penalty area and earned a PK. Salguero, who plays his college ball at El Camino College (Torrence, Calif.), converted from the spot to give the Monsters the lead.
With time quickly expiring, Chula Vista’s Mario Rubio was able to tie the game for the home side with about nine minutes left in the game.
The score remained tied as the match headed to extra time, however, due to an unusual decision, the two teams would not play the full 30 minutes (Two 15-minute periods). The head referee declared that the extra time periods would be shortened to 10 minutes each due to lack of sunlight in the area.
With about three minutes remaining in the abbreviated second period of overtime, Chula Vista’s Luis Espinoza-Vasquez received a golden opportunity to give the home team the lead. After CVFC was awarded a penalty kick, Espinoza-Vasquez rang his 12-yard kick off the right post to keep the game knotted at 2-2.
In the penalty kick shootout, Chula Vista converted their first five attempts, leaving it up to the Monsters’ Salvador Alvarez to push the tiebreaker into a sixth round. While Chula Vista’s goalkeeper Cristian Garcia was unable to replicate the four penalty saves he had in the second round, he bested Alvarez, ultimately giving Chula Vista the victory on the day.
“With the same ferocity we have had for these past other games, we have to keep riding the wave and enter upcoming games with our heads held high,” CVFC assistant coach Humberto Rico said. “That’s key for us, and this was going to get us further in the competition.”
Chula Vista will now have a chance to add to their Open Cup resume. In their first appearance in the tournament in 2015, they defeated PDL (now USL League Two) power FC Tucson on the road, before a dominant 3-0 win over USL (Div. 2 pro) side Arizona United SC, a club now known as Phoenix Rising FC. They added another win over the Albion SC Pros (NPSL) in their 2017 opener, before falling to the UPSL’s Los Angeles Wolves FC.
With the win, Chula Vista FC, who compete in the SoCal Premier League, is the lone representative from US Club Soccer. They are the first US Club Soccer team to qualify for the US Open Cup since 2016 (San Francisco City FC).
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