TUCSON (May 9, 2018) – FC Tucson is headed to the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup thanks to a 2-1 victory over La Maquina FC at Kino North Stadium on Wednesday night. It's the club's third consecutive first-round win in the U.S. Open Cup.
“It’s a great start,” head coach Dave Cosgrove said after the win. “A lot of character shown by the players and I think now we gain some momentum and start to believe in ourselves. I think our top end is very good and we will just keep building.”
In its first competitive match of the 2018 season, midfielder Alejandro Gonzalez delivered the game-winning goal in the 55th minute. After Tucson goalkeeper Andreu Cases made back-to-back saves in his own end, Tucson broke on a counter attack. Midfielder Julian Gaona picked up possession on the right flank and picked out Gonzalez in the box, delivering a perfect cross that Gonzalez nodded into the net.
“We had talked about getting the ball wide at halftime and stretching the game and making them run a lot,” Cosgrove said. “I thought Julian delivered a great ball and Alejandro, if you watch it, he made about a 30-yard run to get to the back post [and score].”
Tucson forward Jason Romero got the scoring started early on Wednesday, getting behind the La Maquina defense and slipping a shot through the legs of goalkeeper Luis Sosa in the second minute.
“I knew it was early, I knew getting the lead felt great,” Romero said. “But I knew there was still a lot of work to do.”
FC Tucson had scored early goals in their three preseason friendlies leading into Wednesday’s match and Cosgrove was happy to see his club open the game on the front foot again.
“We thought there might be a chance to get after them in the first five or ten minutes,” Cosgrove said. “We got another early goal, which is terrific.”
Romero was around the ball all night for Tucson and nearly added an insurance goal late in the second half with a rocket shot that was saved by Sosa.
“We stayed in it and grinded 90 minutes and got the result,” Romero said.
La Maquina’s lone goal came in the 31st minute, when forward Alejandro Velazquez chipped a close-range shot over Cases, off the bottom of the crossbar and across the goal line.
La Maquina ended the match a man down after Jorge Pineda was sent off in stoppage time after committing a dangerous tackle.
With the win, FC Tucson will head to Las Vegas next Wednesday, May 16, to face USL expansion club Las Vegas Lights FC in the second round of the Open Cup. It is the third straight year – and fourth in club history – the team has advanced to the second round of the single-elimination tournament.
“That discipline and that focus is really going to be important for us to compete in that game [next week],” Cosgrove said.
The second round match in Las Vegas will take place at Peter Johann Soccer Field and kick off at 8 p.m.