MESA, Ariz. (October 21, 2017) - In its first match of qualification for the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Sporting AZ FC (UPSL) claimed a 3-1 win over visiting Inter Empireworks FC (UPSL) on Saturday. Sporting got goals from Cesar Mexia, David Alton, and Jose Ramos to erase a first-half deficit.
The visitors got off to a bright start, pushing forward with numbers and registering a shot in the first minute. Sporting answered back in the fourth, but neither club could break through.
In the 32nd minute, Sporting forced some frantic defending in the visitors’ penalty area, where the ball appeared to carom off the hands of Inter players not once but twice. No call was given. On the ensuing counter-attack, Inter’s William Arechiga found the back of the net with a low, driven shot off a quick feed from Daniel Frias.
The second half saw a more determined home side, as Paul LaMarca and Alejandro Aguilar put pressure on Inter. Some controversy in the box led to a penalty being awarded to Sporting, and in the 56th minute, Cesar Mexia made no mistake, slotting past goalkeeper Christopher Salado.
In the 63rd minute, David Alton did well to find space at the top of the Inter box, where he was fed by Jose Ramos before finishing himself. Ramos would make it three for the hosts, with a slashing individual run down the center of the park topped by a thunderous strike from 20 yards.
“I think we’re unfortunate to go down one-nil,” said Sporting head coach Aidan Davison. “We weren’t doing too much wrong. So it was a case of just sticking to the gameplan and believing in what we can do, and be effective, and we did that.”
Inter never gave up the pressure, and without some next-level goalkeeping from MLS Cup winner Andrew Weber, the visitors surely had a chance at taking the result. Weber finished the match with eight saves.
“We went into the locker room, had a discussion, and we came out, guys did their thing,” Weber said after the match. “Some guys came in, and did very well. We weathered the storm at the end, and got the result. I’m very pleased about that.”
Sporting AZ FC moves on to the third round of U.S. Open Cup qualifying, scheduled for November 18-19.