Youth is Served During Frantic Finish to U.S. Open Cup’s Third Round

Teenagers NYCFCII’s Maximo Carrizo., Union Omaha’s Mark Bronnik & Memphis 901 FC’s Nighte Pickering Run Riot in Round Three; Veteran Striker Stefano Pinho Bags Tournament-high Four Goals for Birmingham Legion FC in Extra Time Victory; Round of 32 Draw to be Held Thursday at 1:00 p.m. ET, Live on & U.S. Soccer YouTube

CHICAGO (April 17, 2024) – A mad dash of eleven matches closed out the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Third Round, highlighted by a trio of American teenagers stepping into the spotlight and a stalwart of American soccer circles putting his own stamp on the round with a four-goal performance. Five of the contests needed extra time to determine a winner, with two reaching memorable penalty kick shootouts.

Four road teams advanced including MLS NEXT Pro’s lone Round of 32 torchbearer New York City FC II, with 16-year-old Connecticut-native Maximo Carrizo finding the match-winner in extra time stoppage to down his home-state side Hartford Athletic. Not long after, 17-year-old Mark Bronnik of Brooklyn was thrust into the spotlight halfway across the country as Union Omaha’s fifth penalty taker, and his cool conversion clinched the USL League One side’s 5-3 PK triumph over El Paso Locomotive FC following 120 minutes at nil-nil. Another scoreless draw that didn’t lack for drama ended with Loudoun United FC advancing from their Old Dominion row at the Richmond Kickers via a 5-4 ledger in kicks from the penalty spot.

In the Birthplace of Rock n’ Roll, it was Nighte Pickering playing lead for Memphis 901 FC, as the 19-year-old Birmingham, Alabama native tallied both goals in a 2-0 win over the last amateur side standing, Miami United FC (USASA). With all three remaining Open Division sides bowing out this round it went to the fifth tiebreaker (team with the most goals) to determine NPSL squad El Farolito (2W-0L-1D; 5 goals scored) as the division’s top finisher in this year’s tournament – and the recipient of the $25,000 award for the honor. Miami matched the San Francisco side’s record and goal difference but only scored three in three games.

Countering the evening’s youth movement was veteran Stefano Pinho. The wily Brazilian striker poured in all four of Birmingham Legion FC’s goals in their gritty 4-2 result over Chattanooga Red Wolves that also took added extra time to settle. South Georgia Tormenta FC (USL1) secured a quality upset by defeating Miami FC of the USL Championship by the same scoreline in an affair that saw Tormenta score thrice after trailing 2-1 at halftime.

Two USL Championship sides found different routes to one-nil victories. Indy Eleven scored four minutes in and held on from there at Chicago Fire FC II (MLSNP), while it took North Carolina FC a tense hour at home before finding the game’s lone tally against their own MLS NEXT Pro foe, Carolina Core FC. Three more USL Championship outfits – Tulsa FC, Monterey Bay FC, and Las Vegas Lights FC – closed out the round with 2-1 scorelines in their favor, with Monterey Bay closing out NISA’s representation in the 2024 competition by defeating Irvine Zeta FC, and Las Vegas countering Spokane striker Andre Lewis’ second late-game stunner of the tourney with a win in extra time.

2024 U.S. Open Cup Third Round Results – Wednesday, April 17

Hartford Athletic  2 : 3 (aet)  New York City FC II
North Carolina FC  1 : 0  Carolina Core FC
Richmond Kickers  0 : 0 (aet)  Loudoun United FC (LDN advances 5-4 in penalties)
Memphis 901 FC  2 : 0  Miami United FC
Miami FC  2 : 4  South Georgia Tormenta FC
FC Tulsa  2 : 1  Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC
Birmingham Legion FC  4 : 2 (aet)  Chattanooga Red Wolves SC
Chicago Fire FC II  0 : 1  Indy Eleven
Union Omaha  0 : 0 (aet)  El Paso Locomotive FC (OMA advances 5-3 in penalties)
Monterey Bay FC   2 : 1  Irvine Zeta FC
Las Vegas Lights FC  2 : 1 (aet)  Spokane Velocity FC

The 16 victors from the Third Round move on to the Round of 32, which will see them pitted against eight more entrants from Div. II USL Championship (champions Phoenix Rising FC and the next seven best teams from the 2023 regular-season standings) and the eight competing Div. I Major League Soccer clubs. The Round of 32 draw is slated to take place on Thursday, April 18 at 1:00 p.m. ET, and will be streamed live on and U.S. Soccer’s YouTube channel. The Round of 32 will take place May 7-8.

2024 U.S. Open Cup Third Round Match Capsules – April 18

Hartford Athletic (USLC) 2 : 3 (aet) NYCFC II (MLSNP)

Sixteen-year-old Maximo Carrizo scored in the 109th minute as NYCFC II overcame a one-goal deficit in extra time on a rainy, chilly night at Trinity Health Stadium in Hartford, Conn. Hartford goalkeeper Paul Walters stopped a shot from the left side, but Carrizo buried the rebound to snap a 2-2 deadlock. Deshane Beckford had boosted the hosts into a 2-1 lead two minutes into the extra period, beating his man on the left flank before depositing the ball into the net past ‘keeper Tomas Romero. NYCFC II, however, equalized in the 99th minute as Taylor Calheira connected for his second of the match, off a header. The visitors opened the scoring against the run of play in the 63rd minute. JJ Jimenez beat his man on the right flank before sending ball to Calheira, who poked it home. Romario Williams equalized for Hartford, converting an 81st-minute penalty kick, two minutes after defender Alexander Hauschild tripped him in the box. Tempers flared in the waning minutes of extra time as three red cards were handed out. Hartford finished with nine men as Marcus Epps and Beckford saw red. NYCFC II’s Christopher Tiao also was given his marching orders.

North Carolina FC (USLC)  1 : 0  Carolina Core FC (MLSNP)

It may be getting a little too close for comfort in Carolina. Julian Placias scored the only goal as North Carolina FC squeezed past Carolina Core FC at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. After a tense and scoreless first half, NCFC’s Jarrett McLaughlin had his close-range shot attempt stuffed but was able to send it back across the top of the goal area to Placias for the tap in. Carolina Core FC looked like it had found an equalizer in the 88th minute, but Tyler Freeman’s goal did not stand after he was flagged for offside. Former Maryland Bobcats FC goalkeeper Alex Sutton did his best to keep Core FC in the match with several quality saves in the second half, but the visitors could not maintain the momentum gained from its victory over Vermont Green FC in the Second Round and were held without a shot on target.

Richmond Kickers (USL1)  0 : 0  Loudoun United (USLC) (Loudoun advances 4-5 in PKs)

Regulation and extra time wasn’t enough to separate these two neighbors, so destiny had to be found from 12 yards away.  Richmond Kickers substitution Adrian Billhardt was the most productive attacker for the Roos, putting three of his four shots on frame.  Loudoun United’s Christian Francois had a pair of threatening shots, as well.  Ultimately, the magic of City Stadium, which has hosted 37 U.S. Open Cup matches, was overpowered in penalty kicks, as Loudoun United goalkeeper Dane Jacomen blocked the final shot and carried his team into the Round of 32.  In only their second-ever appearance, Loudoun United will match their deepest run in the tournament and watch eagerly as their next opponent is announced in tomorrow’s draw.

Memphis 901 FC (USLC)   Miami United FC (USSSA-S)

It was a ‘Nighte’ to remember for Memphis 901 FC. The youngest professional signing in team history, Nighte Pickering scored twice as Memphis 901 FC defeated Miami United in a third round match at AutoZone Park in Memphis, Tenn.
The 19-year-old gave the home side the lead when he ran onto a ball over the top of the defense and tucked the ball under Miami United FC goalkeeper Cristian Blanco in the 33rd minute. Miami’s Jhon Freddy Pajoy nearly scored four minutes later on a free kick, but 901 FC goalkeeper Tyler Derrick came up with a double-save, pushing away the second attempt from point-blank range to keep the lead. Memphis 901 FC substitute Dylan Borczak came on and provided some fire down the right side, beating his man in the 85th minute before sending into Pickering to tuck in for the late insurance goal.

Miami FC (USLC) 2 : 4 South Georgia Tormenta FC (USL1)

Fans inside FIU Soccer Stadium were treated to a night filled with drama from start to end.  Just 12 minutes in, Tormenta FC defender Jake Dengler lit up the scoreboard with a header. The home fans only had to wait eight minutes before seeing midfielder Luis Pedro score the first of his two goals on the night. Right as halftime was coming to a close, a skirmish broke out after an aerial duel and when it was all said and done, Miami FC starting goalkeeper Khadim Ndiaye was given a straight red.  Despite starting the second half down a man, Miami FC could still take solace in a one-goal advantage. Tormenta FC was tasked with the tall order of battling for the lead and they did just that. On the backs of second-half goals from team captain Conor Doyle, defender Callum Stretch, and striker Sebastian Vivas, Tormenta took the lead and added an insurance policy before the full-time whistle to reach the Round of 32.

FC Tulsa (USLC) 2 : 1 Northern Colorado Hailstorm SC (USL1)

FC Tulsa scored twice in the first half and ended the match thankful for the cushion, as Northern Colorado was able to pull one back midway through the second half.  FC Tulsa striker Diogo Pacheco got the night started after converting a penalty kick in the 39th minute.  Milo Yosef doubled the lead with a goal in first-half stoppage time.  After the break, Northern Colorado made things interesting with a goal from Isidro Martinez in the 65th minute.  That’s as close as the Hailstorm would get, as FC Tulsa protected the lead for the remaining minutes.  In their eighth appearance ever, FC Tulsa will match their deepest run in the tournament and look to establish a club record with a win in the Round of 32.

Birmingham Legion FC (USLC) 4 (aet) Chattanooga Red Wolves SC (USL1) 2

Brazilian forward Stefano Pinho connected for four goals, including two in extra time, against 10-man Chattanooga at Varsity Soccer Field on the University of Montevallo campus in Montevallo, Ala. Pinho chested in a corner kick at the far left post a minute into stoppage time of the first extra-time period to snap a 2-2 tie before adding an insurance tally from the right side in the 107th minute past goalkeeper Tim Trilk. Despite enjoying a sizable shot and corner kick advantage, Birmingham twice had to rally to equalize. Leo Folla headed a right-wing cross from the middle of the penalty area to lift the visitors into a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute, but the first of two Pinho headers knotted it up in the 48th minute. Chattanooga took a 2-1 edge on Ricardo Ruiz's penalty past goalkeeper Max Van Oekel in the 76th minute, but four minutes later another Pinho header leveled the game at 2-2. The Red Wolves were forced to play the two extra periods a man down after defender Gustavo Fernandes was assessed a red card a minute into second-half injury time.

Chicago Fire FC II  (MLSNP) 0 : 1  Indy Eleven (USLC)

On a night where there were concerns about battling the weather on top of the opponent, Indy Eleven scored in the fourth minute and rode that single goal to victory. As the visitors pressed forward, midfielder Jack Blake combined with striker Douglas Martinez, Jr. to dance around the Chicago Fire II defensive setup and put Martinez into the penalty area with only the goalkeeper standing in the way.  With the cool finish, Indy Eleven took a step closer to the Round of 32, but Chicago Fire II wouldn’t go down quietly.  By the time the final whistle was blown, Chicago Fire II had a total of 22 shots and almost 60% of the possession. Indy Eleven, competing in their ninth Open Cup, will look to advance past the Round of 32 for the first time ever.

Union Omaha (USL1)  0 : 0 (aet)  El Paso Locomotive (USLC) (Omaha advance 5-3 in penalties)

A veteran goalkeeper known for his penalty-kick heroics and a 17-year-old making his second appearance for Union Omaha provided the game-winner in the shootout to upset a 10-man El Paso at Werner Park in Papillion, Neb. Goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu saved Gonzalo Pelua's spot kick in the shootout by diving to his right to knock away El Paso's third attempt. Forward Mark Bronnik, a USL Academy signing who entered the match with three minutes remaining in the second extra period, converted the winning penalty on the hosts’ fifth attempt past ‘keeper Ramon Pasqual. Joe Gallardo Jr., Luca Mastrantonio, Adam Aoumaich and Pedro Dolabella also put away their PKs. Eric Calvillo, Jose Alfaro and Justin Dhillon scored their shootout attempts for the visitors. El Paso could have taken the lead a minute into first-half stoppage time, but Amando Moreno lifted his penalty kick over the crossbar. The visitors were forced to play the entire extra time periods a man down after defender Noah Dollenmayer was awarded a red card two minutes into second-half injury time.

Monterey Bay FC (USLC)  2 : 1  Irvine Zeta FC (NISA)

Midfielder Jerry Ayon certainly made a memorable first impression for Monterey Bay, recording a brace and the game-winner in his team debut at Cardinale Stadium in Seaside, Calif. Ayon snapped a 1-1 deadlock in the 65th minute, making a brilliant run down the left side before drilling a shot from atop the penalty area past goalkeeper Mitchell North. He had given the hosts the lead after heading home Rafael Baca's left-wing cross from six yards in the 32nd minute. Irvine, however, equalized in the 62nd minute on a nifty scoring sequence. Midfielder Edson Alvarado avoided a tackle in the midfield and sent George Almeida a pin-point feed that the forward slotted home from close range past goalie Carlos Herrera into the lower right corner for his second Open Cup goal in as many matches.

Las Vegas Lights FC (USLC)  2 : 1 (aet)  Spokane Velocity FC (USL1)

Who doesn’t mind spending a little extra time in Las Vegas? Under new ownership and with a new head coach, Las Vegas Lights FC got the best of Spokane Velocity FC in extra time at Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Nev. Riki Alba scored in the 113th minute on a half volley into the bottom left corner to send Lights FC on to the Round of 32 for the first time in the club’s history. Solomon Asante fed Valentino Noel for a right-footed finish back across the goalmouth in the 51st minute as Las Vegas took the lead early in the second half. Reduced to 10 men after Derek Waldeck was sent off for receiving his second yellow card, Andre Lewis nonetheless repeated his late-match heroics from Spokane’s First Round win at Ballard FC with a blistered a shot in the dying moments of second half stoppage time to draw Spokane level and send the match to overtime. Velocity goalkeeper Peter Swinkles was active and made a number of nimble saves, but it wasn’t enough as Spokane lost its first ever overtime match.