The game seemed to be heading to penalties. FC Motown had thrown everything it had at NJ Copa FC, but to no avail. The Copa back-line held firm under heavy pressure from a visiting Motown team that never seemed to be without the ball for much longer than it took Clint Correia to set up for one of his flip throws from the sidelines.
What a shift by Dennis Correia last night. 10 miles run, a rainbow in the run of play and multiple flip throws. Rochester in for a treat!!! pic.twitter.com/EmEAP8WIlD— FC Motown Celtics (@fc_motown) May 11, 2017
Copa, the home team, had taken the lead in the 26th minute when Ryan Campbell capitalized on a defensive lapse. Motown had countered with an equalizer in the 39th: Rodrigo Santiago pinged a cross - perhaps even a shot - off the woodwork and Dritan Sela tidied up the rebound. Despite a lot of possession, however, Motown couldn't crack Copa's defense again inside 90 minutes. After the first half of extra-time, it appeared the teams could play for another week and still be tied at 1-1. A penalty shoot-out beckoned.
But a free kick shortly after the re-start saw Samuel Gehman stamp his name on US Open Cup 2017 with a remarkable free kick from a long way out.
Founded in its present incarnation in 2012, FC Motown's origins lie in New Jersey rec-league soccer. It has quickly grown into a dominant team in the Garden State Soccer League. In 2017, it qualified for the main draw of the US Open Cup for the first time in its short history. On May 10, a 2-1 win over NJ Copa FC extended that run to the second round of the Cup.
The team will play Rochester Rhinos on May 17 in the next round of USOC. Before that game takes up too much of his time attention, Once A Metro caught up with FC Motown head coach (and former New York Red Bulls homegrown player) Sacir Hot for reaction to his team's big win.
Once A Metro: Congrats! Epic sideline celebration when the winner went in: those who saw it could see how much the game meant to the Motown players and staff in that moment. But for those who didn't, what does it mean to FC Motown to be in the second round of US Open Cup?
Sacir Hot: It stamped our season as a huge success. It is amazing for a 5th Division USASA team to make the second round of the Lamar Hunt Cup during our inaugural try. There are only 71 teams left in the country at this point and we have put ourselves in a position to take on the soccer giants in this country. We see the co-ed teams playing next to us during training and to think that we have gone from there to playing a former Lamar Hunt Cup winner in a 15,000 seat stadium in such a short period of time - it speaks to the work ethic and talent of our players.
[Editor's Note: Rochester Rhinos won USOC in 1999.]
SH: Interesting question. Our co-founder Dan Karosen and Dritan Sela were writing down their preferred PK lineup just before the goal. We lost on PKs a week earlier in a state game, so I think they were trying to calibrate the proper lineup factoring in that game and fatigue. I never got a look at the lineup, so who knows if I would have gone with what they came up with. It is always a bad vibe to be the dominant team during a game and to have to go to PKs. We are very happy that Sammy hit that scorcher.
SH: It was a crazy play as initially Franklin [Castellanos] was set up to bend a cross in, but I was screaming for Sammy to take it. He had fresher legs and we have seen him do this type of thing in practice before. I have played a million soccer games in my life and this was literally one of best free kicks I have ever seen. It wasn't a floater that got lost in the lights or the goalie lost in traffic. It was a bending missile that a shot-blocking goalie, who recently played for the Bethlehem Steel, could only wave at. We should have a slow-motion video of it in the next day and think that it will be seen as the shot of Round 1.
SH: We didn't even get 12 hours to enjoy this one as we are scrambling to set up our Rochester itinerary and arrangements. On top of that we have a monster game this Saturday against amateur power Lansdowne Bhoys in the Fricker Cup Region 1 semifinals. Any other week, that is the game of the year for us as we have quickly established a fierce rivalry that has tilted our way so far (we are sure Lansdowne will be out for blood on their tight home field). My preparation for the Copa, Lansdowne and Rochester defining week didn't contemplate having to go an extra 30 minutes so there will be some roster turnover. We have to see how guys feel and where some players are at coming back from injury. This is as crazy of a week you can have at our level with our three biggest games of the year compressed in 7 days.