FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – For many wearing the white AC Blaugrana strip, Sunday’s U.S. Open Cup clash against Mass Premier Soccer at Framingham State University was a chance to right past wrongs. To atone for previous failures. And, perhaps most importantly, to avenge recent defeats.
With no fewer than 12 players from the recently-dissolved East Providence Sports on their squad, Blaugrana (R.I.) grabbed 2-0 Region 1 preliminary round win over the same Mass Premier (Mass.) that had knocked the former LUSA powerhouse out of Open Cup play in three straight tournaments (2010, 2011 and 2012).
A scoreless first half gave way to a decidedly different sequel, which saw the Rhode Island-based side score its first from Kyle Teixeira in the 48th minute. Local goalscorer extraordinaire Alencar Junior scored Blaurgrana’s second in the 64th minute. Goalkeeper Scott Perdomo kept the sheet clean to ensure that he and his fellow E.P. Sports alumni would taste the nectar of sweet revenge against their recent Region 1 nemesis.
With the win, Blaugrana, who played its first Open Cup clash on Sunday, advanced to the Region 1 quarterfinals, where it will host Icon (N.J.) on Apr. 13 at a location to be determined.
Sunday’s match started off with Mass Premier pressing the issue, with Perdomo and his backline tested early. Tyler McNee and Ben Shuleva made runs into their opponent’s end, but Perdomo wasn’t forced to take any drastic actions.
Though they may have been making gains as the game progressed, Mass Premier found its best opportunities from set pieces. In the 20th minute, they were awarded a free kick near the left edge of the box, but Derek Nobrega’s effort was cleared away by center back Rui Fortes.
The Commonwealth XI found another chance from the set piece in the 40th minute, this time with a free kick given deep inside the right flank. Once again, Nobrega’s cross was cleared away, this time by right back Jimmy Hernandez.
Undaunted, Mass Premier nearly pocketed a goal seconds before the interval. MacNee beat his mark, and went alone into the area with only Perdomo standing in his way. But the Blaugrana keeper held his ground, and denied MacNee with a quick flick of his left arm before corralling the rebound.
Mass Premier may have looked like early favorites following an ambitious first half, thanks to their play along the flanks. But the second half would prove to be an entirely different story for the longtime Region 1 powerhouse.
Three minutes into the second stanza, Blaugrana came alive when Hernandez launched a long ball over to Teixeira, who beat the defense and looked to bring down the pass. MPS goalkeeper Jeff Newman quickly closed in on Teixeira, and the pair collided – but not before the Blaugrana winger pushed the ball on frame before it gently rolled into the back of the net.
The lead was theirs, but Blaugrana knew they couldn’t rest easily. Not against the same Mass Premier that proved itself the mightier in matches past.
However, Mass Premier would find its chances far and few in between. Unable to find a comfortable rhythm, Mass Premier struggled to summon their first half form, and laid waste to the few opportunities afforded to them.
They were further frustrated just after the hour when Blaugrana put together the finest display of offense seen all afternoon. Wilder Arboleda sent it ahead to Hernandez on an overlapping run down the right, where the right back went deep into the MPS end before crossing it far post. With the ball about knee high, Junior clinically finished it on the volley to make it a two-goal game with just under half an hour remaining.
Facing deeper deficit, Mass Premier attempted to assemble their attack in search of a way to get back into the match. Set pieces afforded them glimpses of hope, but each opportunity went unanswered. Around the 75th minute, the men in red went to a 3-4-3, attempting to get bodies into the box.
Yet, the polish required to seize a measure of success eluded them throughout the afternoon, as Blaugrana were crowned victors once the final whistle screeched.
Mass Premier Soccer: Jeff Newman, Sam Brill, Alan Ashenfelter, Jake Edwards, Dan Tweed Kent, Ben Shuleva, Harris Smirko, Derek Stenquist, Charlie Romero, Tyler MacNee, Dan McGregor. Substitutes: Derek Nobrega, Nick Figueiredo, Matt Lemire, Jake Johnson, Matt Hoff
AC Blaugrana: Scott Perdomo, Wilder Arboleda, Quim DePina, Rui Fortes, Mateo Giraldo, Jimmy Hernandez, Andres Perdomo, Anthony Petrarca, Jefferson Rojas, Alonso Villasenor, Alencar “Junior” Ventura. Substitutes: Patrick Gerard, Tristan Lewis, Peter Maciel, Dom Petrarca, Diego Tabares, Kyle Teixeira.
Blaugrana: 48′ Kyle Teixeira (Jimmy Hernandez)
Blaugrana: 64′ Alencar “Junior” Ventura (Jimmy Hernandez)