USOC: MPS Powers Past Icon, Advance to Region 1 Semis

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FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – Mass Premier Soccer certainly made the most of their second chance in U.S. Open Cup play.

Days after the AC Blaugrana side that beat them in the preliminary round was disqualified for fielding an ineligible player, Mass Premier put a 5-0 thrashing on USASA New Jersey state champion Icon FC on Sunday at Framingham State University.

Charlie Romero and Nick Figueiredo both bragged a brace while Darren Howerton aided the Mass Premier cause in a match dominated the by the hosts. Icon tested goalkeeper Jeff Newman a handful of times, but kept the sheet clean for Mass Premier.

The win sends Mass Premier to the USASA Region 1 semifinals, where they’ll face Eastern New York side Lansdowne Bhoys on May 4.

Icon started with nine players, and Mass Premier went to work on exploiting the personnel advantage. Using the left flank to great effect, Johnson sent a cross inside the box for Romero, who tapped it through in the eighth minute.

The hosts tried to find another before Icon’s late arrivals made their entrance. But even after the guests went to 11 men around the 13th minute, Mass Premier would have no problem finding the back of the net as the game progressed.

With Icon going with a high line, the Massachusetts XI timed their runs perfectly to find a pair of breakaway opportunities. But even though they weren’t able to bag a goal in that fashion, they managed to find another goal before the interval.

In the 41st minute, Santiago Bedoya hit a shot that was initially saved by Icon keeper Javier Martinez. But the rebound spilled to Romero, who slipped it through right on the doorstep to send his squad to halftime with a two-goal lead.

But Icon put up a valiant fight in the opening moments of the second stanza. Adam Bajek went down the left and sent it central for Gabriel Alvas, who quickly flicked it with his left foot to Enrique San Juan. With only Newman to beat, San Juan made a strong bid, but the Mass Premier keeper made a diving save thwart Icon’s best opportunity of the afternoon.

Piotr Gorgurewicz and Teddy Niziolek both uncovered chances for Icon as the hour approached. Each time, though, the Mass Premier defense stood strong to keep their adversaries off the board.

While Icon may have failed to convert their chances, Mass Premier wouldn’t be denied on their own as the match reached into the later stages.

After stringing together a series of passes inside the Icon half, Mass Premier put an exclamation point on the match when  Figueiredo grabbed a short pass and, with space to operate, unleashed a curling effort that tucked itself in the upper 90 during the 68th minute.

The hosts scored another in the 73rd minute when Romero crossed it for Figueiredo, who scored his second goal within a five minute span on an easy tap in.

Howerton capped the scoring in the 78th minute when his diving header on a Bedoya cross fell into the back of the net, much to the delight of the Mass Premier partisans.

Lineups:

Mass Premier Soccer: Jeff Newman, Jake Edwards, Alan Ashenfelter, Dan MacGregor, Pumelele Maqubela, Ben Shuleva, Santiago Bedoya, Nick Christman, Charlie Romero, Tyler MacNee, Alex Johnson, Nick Figueiredo, Darren Howerton, Matt Hoff

Icon FC: Gregory Bajek, Adam Bajek, Michael Custidiano, Walter Avan, Teddy Niziolek, Chris Duggan, Enrique San Juan, Nathaniel Winslow, Gabriel Alvas, Javier Martinez, Piotr Gorgurewicz.

Scoring summary:

MPS: Charlie Romero – 8th minute
MPS: Charlie Romero – 41st minute
MPS: Nick Figueiredo – 68th minute
MPS: Nick Figueiredo – 73rd minute
MPS: Darren Howerton – 78th minute

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About Brian O'Connell

Brian O'Connell serves as editor and staff writer at New England Soccer Today. He's also the Revolution beat writer for ESPNBoston.com, and is Officer at Large for the North American Soccer Reporters. He regularly contributes to The Associated Press, and has been featured on MLSSoccer.com & RevsNet.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianOConnell21 or contact him via e-mail at BOConnell21@aol.com