Dallas-based D’Feeters Kicks FC used a bit of luck and a late extra time penalty to overturn a halftime deficit and advance past Houston Hotshots – Greenspoint FC in the Open Division Local Qualifying tournament for the 2022 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
Houston got on the board first via a penalty converted by winger Isaac Ortega, but in the second half the host D’Feeters swung the tide and equalized via a rare in-the-penalty-box indirect free kick plus a second half of stoppage time penalty that was converted by captain Miguel Ojeda.
“We executed the chances we had,” said D’Feeters coach Edgar Hernandez after the game.
D’Feeters found themselves missing star striker Oscar Romero, who was serving a suspension he received three years ago when he last participated in an official Open Cup match. Romero had a spell with FC Dallas’ USL feeder club North Texas SC, but left after mutually agreeing to part ways with the team in September of 2020. Still, D’Feeters didn’t exactly miss a player of Romero’s caliber.
Both sides came out with plenty of energy in the early minutes and traded spells of possession, but Houston looked the more comfortable on the ball and managed to get two shots on goal in the first 10 minutes courtesy of the forward pairing of Jordan Velasco and Juan Ricciardi. One was hit directly at D’Feeters’ keeper and the other was blocked by a defender. The home side managed to settle in for the next few minutes to maintain possession, but neither side was able to break through.
D’Feeters Kicks’ indirect free kick equalizer in the 63rd minute
Then in the 13th minute, Houston whipped a free kick into the box and in the ensuing scuffle a penalty was given to the visitors. Isaac Ortega converted from the spot and Hotshots earned a deserved early lead in the 14th minute. D’Feeters quickly fought back though and managed to create several corner kick opportunities but nothing found the back of the net. Just before halftime, Luiz Morales turned and fired, only to be denied by the near post. Despite the spirited comeback, the hosts still found themselves down a goal at the break.
The early parts of the second half looked similar to the first with both sides creating half chances from brief spells of possession. Then things got interesting in the 60th minute. After a D’Feeters defensive giveaway almost gave Houston a second goal, the hosts received a free kick at the other end seconds later when Hotshots keeper Cristo Gayoso inexplicably fielded a direct back pass with his hands. Morales crushed his shot through the Houston wall off the ensuing indirect free kick from inside the penalty box and the home side finally had their equalizer. 10 minutes later, Gayoso found himself at the center of attention again as he came more than 10 yards outside his penalty box to clear a D’Feeters’ through ball. He might have regretted his decision, but Morales couldn’t get his shot on frame from an awkward angle and the score stayed 1-1. No other goals came and the two sides were still even after 90 minutes.
D’Feeters looked to be on the front foot early in extra time, but Velasco found himself in space on the right on the counter and managed to get into the box, where he drew a penalty. This time Ortega was denied by D’Feeters keeper Anthony Rodriguez and Houston’s Hanif Mohammad couldn’t keep his shot off the rebound down; the score stayed 1-1.
D’Feeters Kicks’ game-winning penalty kick in the 103rd minute
Hernandez praised his keeper afterwards, noting that he came within an inch of keeping Ortega’s first half penalty out.
“I would say this game, our keeper got us to the next round.”
But D’Feeters still needed one more moment of magic to secure the win. Minutes after Rodriguez denied Ortega from the spot, D’Feeters had Houston under siege and an extra hard challenge off a corner kick earned the home side a 102nd minute penalty. Captain Miguel Ojeda converted from the spot and the hosts were in front and in control. With tensions rising late in extra time, D’Feeters defender Paul Gorish was sent off in the 114th minute for a blatant post-foul push that also resulted in a yellow card for Houston’s bench. Ultimately, it turned out to be inconsequential as D’Feeters were able to see the game out and advance to the next round of qualifying where they will travel to El Paso to take on Southwest FC in a “Win & You’re In” match in November.