Escondido FC poses for a team photo after the club’s 3-1 win over Sporting ID11 in the 2022 US Open Cup qualifying tournament. Photo: Luzrayito Balderas | IG: Rayoreynoso
In a battle of a pair of Southern California-based United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) clubs, Escondido FC defeated Sporting ID11, 3-1, to qualify for the 2022 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup for the first time in club history.
After the original match for Dec. 19 was rescheduled, it was Monday night football in Temecula, Calif. The city of Temecula, located at the southeast corner of the Los Angeles metropolitan area, has become a football haven for youth soccer, thanks to Galway Downs and the city’s Patricia H. Birdsall Sports Park, where the turf has always been allocated generously between the numerous youth clubs in the area.
Angel DeLeon (No. 14) walks out for pre-game introductions with his Escondido FC teammates before the club’s 2022 US Open Cup qualifying match against Sporting ID11. Photo: Luzrayito Balderas | IG: Rayoreynoso
The evening was cold, cloudy, and misty. Escondido kicked off attacking to the goal facing southwest with the mist pouring in from the southwest. The first few minutes proved to be scrappy in nature as both teams came out firing on all cylinders. It wasn’t until about the 13-minute mark that Sporting recorded the first shot on target from a free kick after a foul by an Escondido
The battle continued between the two teams to retain the ball and build something up as the pitch conditions continued to dampen as time went by.
Escondido struck first in the 18th minute after a ball was placed across the face of goal following some 1-v-1 prowess by an Escondido attacker down the right side. The ball was delivered to Josue Hernandez who scored from inside the box. Escondido would hold that 1-0 lead into the halftime break.
The second half proved similar in nature with Sporting earning a corner kick inside the first minute of play and Escondido generating a shot on target shortly thereafter.
Josue Hernandez of Escondido FC attempts a bicycle kick during the club’s 2022 US Open Cup qualifying match against Sporting ID11. Photo: Luzrayito Balderas | IG: Rayoreynoso
It was in the 65th minute that Escondido doubled their lead when Roberto Guerrero scored from the right side of the box following some good build-up play.
A few minutes later, the drama intensified as Sporting pulled one back through some good link-up play where a cross was sent into the box from the right wing to the back post where it was headed back across to the opposite side of the goal for Jose Montes de Oca who headed home what would prove to be Sporting’s only goal of the night.
The game was put out of reach for Sporting when Escondido scored a third goal by Omar Rodriguez that came through good build-up play with about 15 minutes left to play.
The match would end with Escondido earning their first trip to the US Open Cup in their first attempt at qualifying. The road to the tournament, which is scheduled to begin in March of 2022, included three home wins by Escondido, a 3-2 win over fellow UPSL side Rebels SC, and a 3-2 extra time win over Chula Vista FC.
“The Lamar Hunt [US Open] Cup is great because it gives you the opportunity to play with professional soccer teams if you keep winning,” said Escondido FC head coach Roger Colim. “A couple
more games and we could face teams from the USL or NISA and that makes a difference because you never know with scouting who is watching the games. Maybe they can see that a team has
potential and it could change the lives of one of our boys, you never really know. One good game, one victory where one of our boys is inspired and maybe his life could be changed.”