United Advances in US Open Cup

Medford, MA.- Mass United FC survived Southie FC in Round 1 of the US Open Cup on Saturday, although it took 120 minutes and 6 rounds of penalty kicks (4-3) to do so. Extra time was necessary thanks to a stoppage time penalty kick awarded to United when substitute Manuel Augusto Fortes Jr was hammered to the ground in the box. Majid Saeed finished the PK for his second goal of the game, denying Southie what they had to have considered an all-but-sure victory just moments earlier. Southie had fought back from a goal down to take a 2-1 lead, then a 3-2 lead moments after United had pulled even.

Southie started strong, keeping United off balance and turning to deal with aggresive forwards Timothy Ritter and Michael Soboff. Also applying pressure was winger John Bavota, whose hard work would pay off towards the end of the first half. Despite the early advantage for Southie it was Mass United that would open scoring in the 32nd minute when Majid Saeed took a feed from his brother Mohamed and worked himself free enough to bury a short bender into the top right corner to give United a 1-0 lead. Southie equalized just before the half when a mishit clearance rolled to Bavota who danced past a defender and lifted a shot that was pushed not quite over the bar by keeper Oli Gunnarsson, bouncing off the bar, then Gunnarsson’s back and into the net.

An inadvertent hand ball in the 52nd minute gave Southie a chance at the lead which they did not squander, Thomas Ballenthin converting the PK and giving the boys in neon their first lead of the day at 2-1. United would push right back with a few dangerous opportunities, leading to a 75th minute goal by defender Mikhael Tadros on a rebound of a Charlie McMahon free kick that keeper Colin O’Donnell knocked down but could not control. United’s joy was very short-lived however as Southie would take advantage of miscommunication in the United defense to take their lead back just 3 minutes later. After several close calls in the waning minutes of regulation, a decisive run into the box by United’s Fortes Jr. led to a collision that sent him hard to the ground and gave United a penalty shot. Majid Saeed calmly converted and we were off to a scoreless extra time.

United faces Safira FC in Round 2 on September 21st at Hormel Stadium in Medford, MA. Kick off is at 7pm.