Elvis Amoh’s hat-trick pushed Hartford Athletic to a Second Round win over Lansdowne Yonkers FC, 3-0, for the team’s first win of the year overall. The Connecticut side wins its third straight US Open Cup home opener against an amateur team. For Yonkers, this is the second straight Second Round exit.
Hartford head coach and 2005 Hall of Fame inductee Tab Ramos knew his team was favored going into Tuesday night. But having grown up in Kearny, N.J., he knew the caliber of player the NYC metro produces.
“We grew up watching the Celtic bhoys come to us and we’d play against them and every summer (and) we’d try so hard to give them a good game,” Ramos said after the match. “If there’s one thing I told my team it’s that ‘look these guys, they might not be as fit as we are, they might not train all the time but I’ll tell you what they’re gonna fight for 90 minutes. And if we give them a chance and they can survive, they’ll pull one out because they can do it.’ So we knew that it would be a dangerous game because their demeanor was going to be that they were going to go as hard as they could from the first minute till the last.”
On the other sideline, the ruckus Bonanza Supporter’s Group was one of the difference makers. With many of the members still celebrating (and hung over from) the previous night’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament national championship win by the University of Connecticut, their support felt even louder. Considering where the team currently sits in the USL Championship standings, SG vice president Mike Peshka knows how the night could be a “get it right” type of match.
“Get things right, get things in motion for the season tonight,” Peshka said ahead of the match. “We’re taking it one day at a time. We’ll see who we’re playing next, we’re kinda hoping we’re playing the Revs… we’re taking it game by game.”
The final scoreline might be a little misleading. Athletic was the better team but for over two-thirds of the match Lansdowne held the second division team back. The amateurs were already familiar with Trinity Health Stadium after defeating NPSL side Hartford City FC, 2-1, in the previous round. However the team was also still dealing with the effects of that match with two players sidelined with injury.
For the first half Hartford controlled possession but struggled to get actual shots. The team’s formation had four defenders in the back but it shifted into an almost 3-4-3 at times. That extra midfielding talent wasn’t enough to make a dent early. It took until the 16th minute when a long pass on the far side hit a running Antoine Hoppenot. The French journeyman shot low at the far post but was met by Lansdowne keeper Clément Anet, who made the sliding save.
(Of note, this was followed by a hydration/Ramadan break in the 17th minute, something that was only officially announced a few days ahead of this round).
“We created a number of chances in the first half to be up four, five (to) zero,” Ramos said. “Unfortunately we couldn’t get the goal. The important part was the team kept going.”
The home side broke through in the 27th minute. A long cross to the near post found Kyle Edwards’ head who directed the ball towards Amoh. His follow-up header was essentially a point-blank chip that crossed the line to make it 1-0.
Yonkers’ goalkeeper Clément Anet was the star of the match for the visiting amateurs. On a team where veteran keeper Kabo Danso has been a staple of Open Cup runs and national titles, the University of Bridgeport graduate student filled his shoes well. Most of his six saves kept the Bhoys in the game while only trailing by one goal.
One of those came in the 37th minute. Hartford midfielder Luke Merrill took the ball into the box on the near side before passing in to Kyle Edwards. He broke away from a defender, with just Anet to beat in front of the net. His shot hit directly off the keeper’s chest and back into play, right in the path of striker Prince Saydee. His hard attempt was only pushed over the crossbar by Anet charging towards him and reaching a hand out, gracing the ball with his fingertips to force a corner kick.
Saydee had another chance in the 68th minute. A Danny Barrera run up the nearside saw him cross into the box, where the one-time Liberian national team player was unmarked. His direct shot on goal was, again, tipped over by Anet reaching up and using his fingers to redirect the ball.
While he and the defensive line held out, Lansdowne’s offense struggled to get going. In total, the team only made six shots with none on target. The amateur side playing in its sixth tournament match, including four qualifying round games, had their best looks on counter attacks. While Hartford used the wings, the bhoys played up the middle. Players like Edward Speed, son of legendary Wales National Team player Gary Speed, were quick but lacked the killer final touch. That was seen in the 22nd minute when a through pass found Shaquille Suanchez between two Athletic defenders on a run. He hesitated and the defense poked the ball away, where Julio Espinal stepped in to shoot. He hit the side netting.
All of this was broadcasted by Yonkers’ honorary president and former UEFA Champions League broadcaster Tommy Smyth.
Eventually Hartford’s possession and pushing advantage caught up. Elvis hit the post two minutes after his first goal and Edwards barely missed the net on a shot from inside the box in the 33rd. However the former put the game away in the 73rd minute. His shot in the 72nd hit off the extended hand of Musa Bala Danso, earning the Yonkers’ player a yellow and sending the Ghanian to the spot. Anet guessed right when Elvis shot low and to the right, but couldn’t get a hand in front of the attempt.
With the game at 2-0, both teams made numerous subs in the next ten minutes. Lansdowne head coach Sean Kelly brought on former USL midfielder Patrick McCann and attacker Victor Ogunwale to try and find the net. Meanwhile Ramos swapped formations and brought on 18 year-old Ali Taleb to make his first team debut.
“Ali has been training with us for about six months,” Ramos said. “So we’ve been bringing him along and I know he was ready to play in the game. We were going to bring him along regardless because we really wanted to get him some minutes.”
Elvis helped Yonkers leave the building with one final goal in the 82nd. A pass from Jeciel Cedeño on a counter went through the legs of Jonathan Filipe to find Elvis alone on the far side. He slotted a shot into the opposite netting to make it 3-0.
Amoh loves the back of that net. pic.twitter.com/J0fTH01a3S
— Hartford Athletic (@hfdathletic) April 5, 2023
“We have been creating chances and we had not been scoring,” Ramos said about his team in the early USL Championship season. “Fortunately today we were able to score three goals but more importantly we created a ton more chances. So I thought we played pretty well, in particular the first half was pretty good. We played a team that worked really hard and that was a good team and we’re happy to move on.”
27’ – Hartford Athletic – Elvis Amoh (Kyle Edwards)
73’ – Hartford Athletic – Elvis Amoh (Penalty)
82’ – Hartford Athletic – Elvis Amoh (Jeciel Cedeño)
Hartford Athletic: Joseph Rice (GK), Conor McGlynn, Niall Logue, Robin Lapert (Walid Yacoubou 74′), Beverly Makangila (Ashkanov Apollon 75′), Jeciel Cedeno, Antoine Hoppenot (Jonathan Filipe 74′), Luke Merrill, Kyle Edwards (Danny Barrera 65’), Elvis Amoh, Prince Saydee (Ali Taleb 85′)
Manager: Tab Ramos
Lansdowne Yonkers FC: Clément Anet (GK), Humbert Ferrer, Musa Danso, Edward Speed, Jack Mulhare (Shamir Mullings 45’), Julio Espinal (River Seybolt 79’), Yusuf Mikaheel, Matthew Lynch, Pat McCann (74’), Joseph Devivo, Shaquille Suanchez (Victor Ogunwale 74’), Steven Nolan
Manager: Sean Kelly
Jeciel Cedeno, Hartford 51’
Edward Speed, Lansdowne 52’
Musa Danso, Lansdowne 72’