Two Amateur Sides Progress On Night One Of U.S. Open Cup Second Round

San Francisco Amateurs El Farolito Continue Cinderella Run with 88th Minute Winner; Lubbock Matadors FC Continue Late Game Heroics, Win Amateur Showdown in Lone Star State; Second Round Concludes Wednesday with 10 Contests, All Streamed Live at usopencup.com

CHICAGO (April 2, 2024) – The first of two Second Round matchdays in the 2024 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup featured two past champions progressing, a pair of games stretched to extra time, a favorite escaping in penalties and a marquee upset during an active six-game slate on Tuesday night.

Matchday #1 began well but got progressively more challenging for the evening’s three participating USL League One squads, starting with 1995 Open Cup Champion Richmond Kickers’ convincing 5-2 victory at home over Maryland Bobcats FC (NISA). Meanwhile, Charlotte Independence was pushed to the brink; the North Carolinians coming back in penalties to advance following their scoreless draw over 120 minutes with amateurs South Carolina United Heat (UPSL).

In the nightcap, Central Valley Fuego FC surrendered a lead late in the first half to El Farolito – the 1993 tournament champs – which used Dembor Benson’s second of the evening in the 88th minute to register a 2-1 upset that saw the amateur darlings continue their feel-good run in U.S. Soccer’s National Championship.

A steady, cold rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of a MLS NEXT Pro edition of the Hudson River Derby, which saw J.J. Jimenez’s hat trick boost New York City FC II to a 4-2 triumph over New York Red Bulls II. The result for the Baby Blues reversed a trend that featured the Red Bulls claiming wins in all three previous Open Cup meetings between the two rivals’ MLS parent clubs dating back to the 2017 tournament. 

NISA enjoyed a moment of glory via Michigan Stars FC, which traveled to the Twin Cities and pushed Minnesota United FC 2 to extra time following 90 scoreless minutes. The visitors then plundered two goals during the extra half hour to post an impressive 2-0 win, giving Stars FC two wins on the trot in the Open Cup after bowing out in its opening contest during the last two editions.


The Second Round comes to a close Wednesday with 10 more games from coast-to-coast; continue below for the schedule. Fans can catch every thrilling moment on Wednesday via streaming broadcasts from U.S. Soccer (ussoccer.com/us-open-cup/watch), USL (uslsoccer.com/watch), and MLS (mlssoccer.com/usopencup-live-streams).

The 16 victors from the Second Round will square off against USL Championship teams (Division II) during the Third Round from April 16-17. The Third Round draw will be held this Thursday, April 4, at 1:00 p.m. ET and be streamed live on www.usopencup.com and U.S. Soccer’s YouTube channel.

2024 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Second Round Results – Tuesday, April 2
Richmond Kickers  5 : 2  Maryland Bobcats FC
Charlotte Independence  (4) 0 : 0 (3) (aet)  South Carolina United Heat
NYCFC II  4 : 2  New York Red Bulls II
Lubbock Matadors  2 : 0  FORO SC
MNUFC2  0 : 2 (aet)  Michigan Stars FC
Central Valley Fuego FC  1 : 2  El Farolito

2024 U.S. Open Cup Second Round Match Recaps

Richmond Kickers (USL1)  5 : 2  Maryland Bobcats FC (NISA)

In an intriguing match-up between teams from different Division III leagues, it was the long-established Richmond Kickers (USL1) who prevailed over rising NISA club Maryland Bobcats 5-2 at City Stadium in the Virginia capital. Nil Vinyals scored a penalty kick for the hosts in only the sixth minute and it was off to the races for the boys in red. Chandler O'Dwyer doubled the lead in the 20th minute before Abdul Kooistra pulled one back four minutes later for a physical Bobcats team that was racking up fouls and yellow cards. Dakota Barnathan scored the first of his two goals in the third minute of first half stoppage time, restoring Richmond's two-goal advantage. The wheels began to fall off for Maryland in the second half, especially after captain Josselin Possian was sent off in the 61st minute for a second yellow card offense. Ten minutes later, Darwin Espinal's belter gave the Bobcats a glimmer of hope at 3-2, but with only ten men, fatigue finally played its part. Ryan Sierakowski's 83rd minute goal made it 4-2 before Barnathan’s final strike put the home side out of site and into the Third Round. 

Charlotte Independence (USL1) 0 : 0 (aet)  South Carolina United Heat (UPSL) (CLT advances 4-3 in PKs)

Although there was a dearth of goals, neither the Charlotte Independence nor the visiting SC United Heat lacked for scoring chances in a hard-fought match that saw both squads empty their respective tanks at American Legion Memorial Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. After knocking off MLS NEXT Pro (Div. III) competition in the First Round, SCU Heat put in another giant-killing worthy shift, taking their USL1 (Div. III) hosts to PKs before wilting in the last round of the shootout after 120 minutes of scoreless soccer. After initially going behind in the shootout when SCU's Zach Rowell saved Juan Carlos Obregón Jr.'s shot, Charlotte methodically worked their way back, converting four straight kicks to capitalize on two saves by goalkeeper Austin Pack in order to secure the 4-3 shootout victory and move on to the Third Round. 

NYCFC II (MLSNP)  4 : 2  New York Red Bulls II (MLSNP)

J.J. Jimenez’s hat trick drove the Young Pigeons to victory in the midst of miserable elements at Belson Stadium in Queens. The rain-soaked conditions came into effect almost immediately as Red Bulls II striker Mohammad Sofo saw his low, spinning lash of a loose ball near the spot squirt past Tomas Romero seven minutes in. Jimenez leveled midway through the stanza off a breakaway after he rounded Dallas Odle at his six, and he did the exact same thing in the 38th minute to push the Baby Blues out front. Just before halftime Malachi Jones’ near-angle chip beat Odle to push the cushion to 3-1 for NYCFC II, but the second half proved one-way traffic for RBNY II – and it again began quickly. Serge Ngoma Jr. scored in the 47th minute to get a goal back and forward Julian Hall had the two best bites at the apple to equalize, but Romero stood tall near the hour mark to stone a spot kick and did well to tip a rocketed effort over his bar in the 72nd minute. Jimenez finished off his hatty and put things out of reach from the spot two minutes from time.

Lubbock Matadors (USASA / NPSL)  2 : 0  FORO SC (UPSL)

Shuma Sasaki secured the home side a Second Round shutout. Sasaki assisted on the game-winner in the second half before adding an insurance goal in stoppage time as Lubbock Matadors beat FORO SC at LCU Soccer Field in Lubbock, Texas. Matadors forward Luke Jones earned a penalty late in the first half, dribbling through defenders before he was tripped, but he sent his spot kick way over the bar and the match was scoreless at halftime. Early in the second half FORO looked to have a goal from a corner kick, but it was waved off for a foul in the box. Less than 10 minutes later, Sasaki skipped a free kick past the wall and through the penalty area to Salvador Martinez at the back post to tap in for a lead in the 71st minute. FORO’s Nigel Katawa was sent off in the 76th minute after receiving a second yellow (dissent), and Sasaki sealed it in the 94th minute, beating Foro’s stretched defense.

MNUFC2 (MLSNP)  0 : 2 (aet)  Michigan Stars FC (NISA)

Those big bodies are headed to the Third Round for the first time. It took until overtime, but Michigan Stars FC scored twice to stop Minnesota United FC 2 in a Second Round game at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minn. After a scoreless first half, Michigan Stars FC goalkeeper Tatende Mkruva made up for his own mistake with a well-timed point-blank save to keep out Adebayo-Smith in the 58th minute. Recently retired MLS veteran Justin Meram, tournament tied to Michigan Stars, received a yellow card in 70th minute, but the visitors did not take a lead until 6-foot-4 center back Sacko Konato got his head on an out-swinging corner kick in the 99th minute. Hunter Olson added another in the second period of added time, curling one inside the far post for an insurance goal in the 106th minute for Michigan.

Central Valley Fuego FC (USL1)  1 : 2  El Farolito (USASA / NPSL)

Family, football and flavor. Dembor Benson scored twice as the amateurs from El Farolito upset Central Valley Fuego FC at Bobcat Field on the campus of UC Merced. Fuego FC’s Jose Carrera-Garcia was taken down in the box in the 17th minute to earn a penalty kick, which he converted right down the middle for a 1-0 lead early in the first half. El Farolito equalized on a counter attack near halftime with Erik Arias clipping the ball ahead to Benson, who tucked it past Fuego goalkeeper Andre Zuluaga Silva in first-half stoppage time. Benson got the match-winning goal in the 88th minute, putting the final touch on a passing sequence that caught Fuego FC flat footed on a ball played back into the box.
It’s the first time El Farolito has advanced to the Third Round since winning the tournament in 1993.

U.S. Open Cup Second Round Calendar – Wednesday, April 3
6:00 p.m. ET | Miami United FC (USSSA-Soccer / USSL) vs. Club de Lyon FC (NISA)
7:00 p.m. ET | South Georgia Tormenta FC (USL League One) vs. Savannah Clovers Football Club (NISA)
7:00 p.m. ET | One Knoxville SC (USL League One) vs. Greenville Triumph SC (USL League One)
7:00 p.m. ET | Vermont Green FC (USL League Two) vs. Carolina Core FC (MLS NEXT Pro)
7:30 p.m. ET | Apotheos FC (USASA / NPSL) vs. Chattanooga Red Wolves SC (USL League One)
8:00 p.m. ET | Chicago Fire FC II (MLS NEXT Pro) vs. Forward Madison FC (USL League One)
8:30 p.m. ET | Union Omaha (USL League One) vs. Des Moines Menace (USL League Two)
9:30 p.m. ET | Colorado Rapids 2 (MLS NEXT Pro) vs. Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC (USL League One)
10:30 p.m. ET | Ventura County FC (MLS NEXT Pro) vs. Irvine Zeta FC (NISA)
10:30 p.m. ET | Spokane Velocity FC (USL League One) vs. LA Force (NISA)