Arizona United Soccer Club defeated Oklahoma City Energy FC, 2-1, in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and made Arizona soccer history on Wednesday night at the Peoria Sports Complex in a match that had it all. A late equalizer, two red cards, an overtime goal, and penalty save with under two minutes remaining in overtime.
Arizona United SC has now advanced to the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup, and will host Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy on June 18 at 7:30 p.m. No team from Arizona has ever advanced to this stage in the previous 100 editions of the U.S. Open Cup. Tickets are available for purchase now at arizonaunited.com/tickets.
OKC Energy FC went down to 10-men two minutes into the second half after Arizona United SC forward Kadeem Dacres was taken down on a tough challenge near the halfway line from midfielder Michael Thomas. Arizona United SC then held the majority of the possession for the remained of the half, but was deterred time after time by OKC Energy’s defense, who crowded the middle of the pitch.
However, Arizona United SC’s persistence in the attack paid off with an 84th-minute goal on a cross-and-header from defender Matt Kassel to forward Jon Okafor. Down a goal, OKC Energy FC threw everything they had at the Arizona United SC net and scored a late equalizer two minutes into stoppage time on Kyle Grieg’s diving header from Tarek Morad’s cross.
The match then went into two 15-minute overtime periods, and it was Arizona United SC midfielder Bradlee Baladez who provided the late heroics in the second overtime. In the 112th minute, Dacres found himself with space on the right wing and curled a cross into the box. Baladez, in the box, touched the ball up, and then volleyed his shot into the far right post for the go-ahead goal.
Not to be outdone, OKC Energy FC once again threw everything they had at Arizona United SC’s defense, and were able to draw a poor challenge from Arizona United SC’s Joey Dillon who was issued a red card in the 114th minute. With the match even at 10-men aside, play in the middle opened up, and OKC Energy’s late push for an equalizer saw a redirected shot hit the arm of an Arizona United SC player in the box in the 119th minute.
OKC Energy FC midfielder Christian Duke stepped up for the penalty and rifled a low shot to the right side. Arizona United SC goalkeeper Evan Newton dove, extended his arm, and made the save on the line. Arizona United SC’s defense kept the OKC Energy FC attack at bay in the final minutes and held on for the historic win.