Graphic by Harrison Huntley | @hhuntley17
On a rainy night in the capital city of Columbia, S.C., Nashville United came into town and stunned hosts, Soda City FC Sorinex, by a score of 4-0 to become the first Tennessee-based Open Division Local team to qualify for the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in the tournament’s Modern Era (1995-present).
Nashville was led by former professional Georgi Hristov and Logan Paynter who each scored two goals, one in each half.
With the win, Nashville qualifies for the 2020 US Open Cup in just their second attempt. The tournament is scheduled to begin in the spring. The format and draw for the 107th edition of the tournament will be held in the coming months.
From the opening whistle, Nashville United was on the front foot and opened the scoring in the 5th minute when Danny Dunleavy sent in a long cross to the foot of Hristov, who recently finished his pro career as the all-time leading goalscorer for the Tampa Bay Rowdies (USL Championship). The Bulgarian then slotted it past the Soda City keeper to make it 1-0.
Players from Nashville United pose for a team photo before their 2020 US Open Cup qualifier against Soda City FC Sorinex. Photo: Nashville United
After a little bit of back-and-forth, Nashville found the goal again from the foot of Paynter. Lipscomb University’s all-time leading goalscorer nailed a strike into the back of the net to make it 2-0 in the 15th minute.
Soda City wouldn’t get their first quality chance until the 29th minute when Seth Hansen sent a nice through ball to Davis Bryan who sent the ball just wide of the goal.
In the 36th minute, Soda City had a case for a penalty kick after the Nashville goalkeeper came off of his line to challenge Bryan as he fell down hard around the six-yard box trying to get a shot off. That proved to be an emotional spark that Soda City needed and continued their pressure on the Nashville goal.
However, they got too emotional as Paul Grandacarpio and Nestor Jaramillo were both booked for rough challenges in the 38th and 42nd minutes, respectively.
Once the second half started, Soda City kept up the pressure from the first half as Dean Smith had a great shot on goal in the opening moments, but it was saved.
In the 51st minute, United’s Paynter whipped in a lobbed ball that found the head of Hristov who put it just high of the net. Nashville would continue their press with pretty combination play as Paynter doinked one off the post in the 63rd minute but would get another chance a minute later to redeem himself. On the second chance, he did not disappoint.
Paynter’s shot found the back of the net to put his side up 3-0 on the road. Just as the game was drawing to a close and the pitch continued to get bogged down with rain, Hristov found the net yet again in the 88th minute to extend the Nashville lead to 4-0 and put Soda City out of their misery and out of the tournament for the second straight year in Round 3.
As previously mentioned, Nashville became the first Open Division Local team from the Volunteer State to qualify, but three other Open Division National teams have qualified. The now-defunct Memphis Express from the Premier Development League (now USL League Two) were the first to participate in 2002, followed by Chattanooga FC (NPSL) who qualified six times (2011, 2013-17) and most recently, Inter Nashville FC (NPSL) in 2018.
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