A first half brace by Stephen Elias helped Flower City Union advance to the Third Round of the 2023 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup after beating Manhattan SC 3-1 at Rochester Community Sports Complex on Tuesday night.
After a feisty start to the match with both sides receiving a caution within the first 15 minutes, Manhattan’s Harold Fuller failed to convert an opportunity on the counter in the 22nd minute.
Flower City Union held the fair share of the possession in the first half creating a few chances. Luke Ferreira had a shot from just outside the box fly just over the crossbar in the 30th minute and just five minutes later had a free kick on the left side of the goal parried behind the net by goalkeeper Marco Graci. The breakthrough came on the ensuing corner kick as the ball popped out to Elias and he caressed a volley into the net.
Elias would double the Flower City lead just six minutes later when a Fredrick Yamoah Opoku’s cross found the head of Alioune Diakhate who guided it down into the outstretched hand of Graci falling to Elias’ foot as he stroked home his second of the match. The first half would end with Flower City Union leading 2-0.
Elias spoke about his first goal after the match.
“Originally I was thinking about lacing through it and at the last second I decided to go inside of the foot, it’s a little easier to place it. As soon as I hit it I was just praying it went over the defenders head and luckily it dropped,” said Elias. “It felt amazing being in front of the home fans for the first time, the energy was great and hopefully we can continue to build off this.”
Manhattan SC came out in the second half looking to get back into the match and would find the back of the net in the 65th minute. A free kick crossed by Amara Sesay pinballed off a few legs eventually finding the foot of Bibi Hakim Karamoko who would fire it into the back of the net to put Manhattan SC back in the match.
Both sides would battle for the remainder of the match until Flower City striker Diakhate received a pinched slide tackle from Angelo Calfo on the top of the box. Diakhate shifted the ball to his right and powered it past Manhattan goalkeeper Graci.
Flower City Union controlled the rest of the match advancing into the next round by a score of 3-1. It was their second straight opening round win in the club’s second Open Cup appearance.
Flower City Union coach Jordan Sullivan is in his first season as the Flower City coach and spoke about how it feels to advance.
“Relieved. It was good, the guys had our back today. We went out there and we worked hard,” said Sullivan. “We got the win so the feeling right now is fantastic, but we set ourselves collective goals in the locker room and it wasn’t to give up and go out at this stage. So we want to go out and continue to press on and continue to go through.”
The 2023 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup third round draw will take place later this week.