Chicago House AC prevailed 1-0 over Midwest Premier League (MWPL) foe Bavarian United in a 2023 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup First Round matchup in Elmhurst, Ill. on Wednesday night. House and Bavarians had drawn their 2022 MWPL league meeting, but with many lineup changes for both teams, it wasn’t clear if this matchup would be as tight.
CEO and Secretary General JT Batson led a delegation from US Soccer at the match, and he opened proceedings with a pregame ceremonial first kick. As the game proper kicked off, the long-threatened rain began, leading to a slick surface and a cautious start for both teams.
In the 8th minute, Chicago’s Naz Kabbani slipped as he tried to clear a Bavarians cross, and House keeper Tony Halterman dove to his left to push Bavarians Mathew Comiskey’s drive from inside the box around the post.
Welcome to John Makowiecki’s House! ????@ChicagoHouse_AC move ahead on the second effort from the corner!— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) March 23, 2023
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House waited until the 36th minute for their first real scoring opportunity when Ricardo Avalos picked up a Bavarians clearance just outside the right half of the 18, juked right, then fired a low shot across goal, which keeper Agustin Rey parried wide. Chicago continued to pressure, and creative midfielder Daman Almazan’s 38th minute shot led to a House corner and further pressure on Bavarians goal.
That pressure paid off less than a minute later as Shannon Seymour’s corner was headed goalward by Kabbani and, fellow defender John Makowiecki was in the right place at the right time, to flick the ball into Bavarians net from five yards out. Bavarians immediately pressed for an equalizer, but the half ended 1-0 for House.
By the time the second half started, the more than 600 fans in attendance were able to put away their umbrellas as the rain had stopped, but the surface remained slick for players, and Almazan (wearing a “Breast Cancer Sucks” shirt under his uniform in recognition of his mother’s diagnosis), in particular seemed hampered by the surface as he attempted to beat Bavarian defenders on the dribble.
This was the first official game of 2023 for both teams, and they used their substitutes liberally to try replace tiring legs. House’s Captain A.R. Smith headed a 70th minute corner to Kabbani, who attempted to score with his own header, but Rey was there to keep the ball out of the net.
As the half progressed, Bavarians upped the pressure on House’s goal, and had a number of opportunities to tie the game, but could not find a way past Halterman. House’s offensive forays never really amounted to direct attacks on Rey’s goal, but the counterattacking threat of Adam Mann kept Bavarians from committing too many players forward.
Finally, in the 86th minute, Bavarians seemed to have their moment. House keeper Halterman, who has been stellar for House throughout their Open Cup qualifying run, and had been flawless on the night, bobbled a cross. As he raced to track the ball down near the left edge of his box, Bavarian Alex Mirsberger stepped between Halterman and the ball and, Halterman appeared to grab Mirsberger with both hands, sending Mirsberger to the ground before the goalkeeper recovered the ball. This action occurred within sight of referee, Peter Bernardy, as well as the assistant referee, but no foul was called, and play continued.
Four minutes of stoppage time was added to the second half, and the men from Milwaukee used every second of it to try and tie the match. In the 95th minute, Bavarians looked as though they would get their equalizer and force extra time, as they had a free kick from 35 yards out. The ball was played high into the box where John Bradford put the ball back across the front of House’s goal and second half sub Jose Gutierrez reacted with a diving header from three yards out. On this night though, nothing was getting past Halterman as he parried away Gutierrez’s header then caught Mirsberger’s headed rebound to preserve the shutout.
With that save, the final whistle blew, and celebrations ensued as House fans young and old pushed forward to congratulate their team. Next up for the House is Forward Madison FC of USL One on April 4 in Madison, Wis. This matchup will see two Peter Wilt-founded teams going against each other, and 2021 House player Nazeem Bartman could be in the Madison lineup to face his former team. No matter what the result at Breese Stevens Field in April, it will no doubt be another night of US Open Cup drama in the Midwest.