On a cold and rainy night at George Finnie Stadium in Barea, Ohio, the last thing most people would want to do is play 120 minutes of soccer in such dreary conditions. On this night, Cleveland SC was grateful to wait the extra 30 minutes to dry off as a 90th minute goal gave the home side a chance to win their first ever US Open Cup game in extra time over Chicago FC United (USL League Two).
Cleveland had the first decent chance on goal in the 7th minute when Filip Sparavec sent a cross into the box, but Chicago goalkeeper Andrews Vasquez was able to catch the ball before Vinnie Bell could get his head on it. At the other end Chicago earned three corner kicks in a row before the final one was headed away to safety.
The opening goal came in the 18th minute as Chicago’s Mounir Alami sent the ball into the box from the left wing, and Cleveland defender Boban Cancar lifted his leg to block the ball, redirecting it and sending it past goalkeeper Conor Cable for an own goal.
For the remainder of the first half, Cleveland had most of the possession, and in the 30th minute Vinny Bell passed to Sparavec into the goal mouth, but Vasquez blocked the ball at the post and defender Pau Mateo was able to clear the ball away from danger. Cleveland managed one more corner kick in the 38th minute, but it amounted to nothing. Halftime came with Chicago FC United up 1-0.
Ten minutes into the second half Cleveland’s Andrew Nichols had an excellent chance at goal inside the penalty area but Vasquez was equal to the task. A couple minutes later Chicago’s Jesus Perez forced Cable to make a diving fingertip save directly in front of goal to keep Chicago from doubling its lead.
For most of the rest of the second half, Chicago stifled any Cleveland attempt to create any scoring chances, although the home side was nearly gifted an own goal of their own in the 73rd minute when Chicago defender Kenton Fadel sent an awkward clearance to Vasquez. For most of the next 15 minutes Chicago created many chances, winning multiple corner kicks but were unable to get the game clinching goal.
Finally, Mike Derezic collected a Vinny Bell throw-in down the left wing, dribbled past Fadel and shot between two Chicago defenders, placing the ball into the right side of the goal giving Cleveland a 90th minute equalizer, sending the 200 or so shivering fans into delight. A few minutes of stoppage time passed, and one final Chicago attack nearly broke the hearts of Cleveland as Paul Mateo sent a shot off a corner kick dead center on goal that Cable was able to swat away, sending the game into 30 minutes of extra time.
The first 15 minutes of extra time saw each team win corner kicks, but nothing materialized from the attacks and the score remained 1-1. Just two minutes into the second half of extra time Cleveland found their game winning goal. Substitute Kieran Toland collected Chris Cvecko’s throw-in and sent a cross which appeared to be partially deflected by Fadel, sending the ball looping into the goalmouth for Vinnie Bell to nod home for a 2-1 Cleveland lead.
For the rest of the way Cleveland was able to keep Chicago in check, and the brave souls that remained in the seats screamed for what felt like an eternity for the referee to blow the final whistle. While waiting for that final whistle, Cable was called upon once more to make a save on a point blank header from Ezau Millan. Finally, the final whistle came and Cleveland SC and its wet, cold fans could warm up and celebrate their first ever Open Cup victory.
Next up for Cleveland SC is a trip north on April 6 to face Forward Madison of USL League One in the Second Round.
18’ – Chicago FC United – Own Goal (Boban Cancar)
90’ – Cleveland SC – Mike Derezic (Vinny Bell)
107’ – Cleveland SC – Vinny Bell (Kieran Toland)
Cleveland SC: Conor Cable (GK), Chris Cvecko, Boban Cancar (Alexandru Rumleanschi 83’), Miem Derezic (Kokai Minami 112’), Admir Sujevic, Daniel Koniarczyk (Kieran Toland 73’), Andrew Nicholas (Lukas Haka 66’), Corban McAvinew, Alec Nagucki, Vinny Bell, Filip Sparavec (Benjamin Hryszko 46’)
Manager: Lewis Dunne
Chicago FC United: Andres Vasquez (GK), Kervin Fadel, Jacob Graiber, Andy Lomeli (Max Todd 115’), Pau Mateo (Alan Rubio 103’), Giann Magno, Jesus Perez, Peder Olsen, Amine Airaki (Ezau Millan 46’), Mounir Alami (Isiah Nieves 82’) , Ricardo Avalos (Bukola Abdulwahab-Omotose 66’)
Manager: Kyel Retzlaff
Filip Sparavec, Cleveland 14’
Amine Airaki, Chicago 40’
Lukas Haka, Cleveland 112’
Referee: Austin Saini
Linesmen: Michael Nickerson, James Duling
Fourth Official: Stephen Milhoan