US Open Cup Qualifying Region 3 Matchday 3: Making the Mark

24 May 2009

The last time I had a right buzz about football, Chelsea had just knocked Liverpool out of the UEFA Champions League last year at the Semi-Final stage. Today's Lynch's FC v Baton Rouge Classics game gave me an even bigger one.

Today's USASA Region 3 US Open Cup qualifiers were interesting to say the least. Group one saw Lynch's FC needing six goals to guarantee advancement; group two saw a potential hell on earth scenario should Rocket City beat Atlanta FC by a 1-0 scoreline. For those wondering what would have happened had we seen that scoreline, we would have seen a three way sudden death penalty shootout where coin flips would have determined the order.

Atlanta FC v Rocket City FC started under partly cloudy conditions and for the most part, evenly balanced. If there was any advantage, Atlanta FC had it based on chances alone. The first half though was somewhat uneventful and they headed into the interval 0-0.

Cometh the second half, cometh the torrential downpour that had me heading for the shelter of a tree. It was during this downpour that saw Rocket City take the lead. A ball into the box ended up taking the lovely wet turf skip right past the keeper and into the far post. Hell scenario on.

It was at this point Atlanta FC woke up and turned the screw they were trying to do in the first half. Five minutes after Rocket City scored, Atlanta FC equalized. From there, the game was never in doubt. Atlanta added another goal just for good measure. Full time result, Atlanta FC 2 Rocket City United 1. Due to the result Atlanta FC advances to the US Open Cup and to the USASA Region 3 Final.

Baton Rouge Classics took to the pitch down three first team players and with a limited bench. Lynch's FC looked a determined team knowing what they needed to do. This in all honesty was a one sided match. Baton Rouge only threatened goal four times in ninety minutes, and spent the rest of their time defending for their lives. Despite Lynch's FC dominance, however, they went into halftime still needing six to advance.

The second half was pure madness on every level imaginable. Pumas FC, the side who's fate was in Lynch's goal scoring capabilities, had shown up about half an hour into the first half and were now very excited Baton Rouge Classic supporters. On the other hand, myself along with a core group of four others were cheering on the local boys with every fiber of our beings. It must have paid off, Lynch's scored a goal roughly 30 seconds into the second half.

It was about 8 minutes later before Lynch's scored again, and then there was the long agonizing wait for the third, which came about 15 minutes later. 24 minutes into the second half, Lynch's were halfway to their target, but time was beginning to run out.

The fourth came about 7 minutes later and, in my mind, that was when Baton Rouge just folded. About 5 minutes later came the fifth. With nine minutes to go, Lynch's FC still needed one more goal to advance.

I cannot remember a time when I was so nervous for any time period in any game than I was right after kickoff. Baton Rouge had a point blank header saved, but that was the last time the ball threatened Lynch's defensive half. Lynch's pushed for the golden goal with two agonizing chances. The first came from a shot from ten yards that missed by inches and the second being when a ball played central was whiffed right into the keeper's hands. The third time however, was lucky as a ball similar to the second miss in the sequence was played in and the keeper frozen on his line. This time there would be no whiff as Lynch's just put it to the opposite side the keeper was leaning. The 89th minute goal was enough to see Lynch's FC pull off the dramatic. The noise the five Lynch's FC fans made when the ball hit the back of the net to me was just a lovely a sound as anything I've seen from Europe this season. Full time result, Lynch's FC 6 Baton Rouge Classic 0. Based on the six goal win, Lynch's FC advances to the US Open Cup and to the USASA Region 3 Final.

Tomorrow's game is all about who represents Region 3 in the USASA tournament later this summer. But for Lynch's FC and Atlanta FC, their US Open Cup dream remains alive. Congrats are in order to these two teams. Maybe they will be able to do better than what Dallas Roma FC was able to do just a short few ago. That's the beauty of the Open Cup, anything is possible.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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