In a chippy matchup between two teams eager to advance in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open competition, South Florida Surf scored three second-half goals to put away Red Force FC, 4-2.
The Surf, from Port St. Lucie, traveled south to Tropical Park in Westchester to play Red Force. It was the first match played in the first round, and with an 8:30 p.m. start time and streaming provided by the U.S. Soccer Federation, it served as an official kickoff to the 104th edition of the U.S. Open Cup tournament.
The game featured inventive play, with both teams playing about above what might have been expected of their level in the American soccer pyramid. The first goal came from South Florida Surf’s Manny Gonzalez, who scored off a free kick in the 10th minute.
“We practice during the week, and I believe last year against Richmond with the (Fort Lauderdale) Strikers [Gonzalez’s former team] I had one similar at the beginning of the game.
“I just try to hit over the wall and, hopefully, if it dips down and goes it it’s good.”
After allowing the first goal, Red Force responded with better attacking play and equalized in the 40th minute thanks to a well-worked goal from Andres Ruiz.
The aggressive Red Force style continued into the second half, but Surf weathered the storm and responded with a second goal in the 55th minute, this time coming from Jeff Michoud. Tight passing between Michoud and Darwin Espinal created the opportunity.
Tight passing again set up a goal moments later, as Bradley Farias scored in the 70th minute. Michoud completed his brace with a well-controlled shot into an upper corner.
Red Force’s Stiven Salinas scored a consolation goal in the 85th minute, and the team pressed the issue through the remainder of the game, but the Surf’s organization wouldn’t allow Red Force to score again.
South Florida Surf advances to play Miami FC at the University of Miami’s Cobb Stadium on Wednesday, May 17 at 7:30 pm. The Surf are obviously eager to advance, with at least one player with a personal connection.
“I have good friends there like (Johnny) Borrajo, (Stefano) Pinho, I know a couple of guys.
“For the club to play Miami FC, they’re doing very well in the league, it’s going to be a very good game. Hopefully the crowd enjoys it and the young guys here, especially, enjoy it.”