After starting off 2018 with a two round run in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Duluth FC headed to Des Moines, Iowa looking to add a second Open Cup victory to their short but eventful club history. With weather forcing a move to a different stadium, the clubs eventually met on Wednesday night for a 7:30 pm CT kickoff.
The match immediately brought to pivotal moments in the first half, as the Menace found the back of the net in the ninth minute via a well worked looping shot from within the box by Ignacio Goya de Anca.
The Menace’s lead wouldn't last long however, as Duluth found the equalizer in the 35th minute following a foul on left back Dorian Barberio in the box. Carlyle Junior, who had scored the weekend prior, stepped up and slotted the attempt into the right corner. It was his second goal for the club and first in the U.S. Open Cup. Junior would also become the fourth Duluth FC player to ever score in the U.S. Open Cup.
With Duluth also being the only NPSL North club to participate in the U.S. Open Cup, he would also become the fourth player from the conference to ever score in the historic competition.
The remainder of the match can largely be described as a siege, with the Menace dominating possession by a mile but failing to finish their chances. This came about due to poor choices in the final third, several big saves from Duluth keeper Alberto Ciroi, and several key interventions by Duluth’s back four.
The lack of success in the final third would come for Duluth too, as the north shore side managed to create several chances on the counter but found themselves canceled out by strong defensive plays from the Menace along with an assertive performance by the Menace goalkeeper, Jordan Bell, who went as far as to stop two 1 on 1 chances.
As the full time whistle drew nearer, it became clear that this match would be like many that Duluth has played in knockout competitions. AET would bring a few moments for both sides, but it soon became clear that the match was destined for penalties.
Duluth striker Lucas Jacobs would step up first, slamming his effort into the upper net and getting the BlueGreens started off right. Ciroi would come inches away from saving Des Moines’ first effort, though the Menace would eventually score all three attempts they made. Duluth, meanwhile, would find both Alberto Diaz’ and Aidan Hill’s attempts saved while Ronaldo Fortune, who scored in the previous weekend’s league match, would strike a strong ball that drifted over the crossbar.
Diaz’ effort would prove an unlucky case, as his initial effort would not count due to the keeper coming off his line. Upon his second attempt, the dominant midfielder would attempt a similar shot, only for the keeper to catch on to his trick and saving it comfortably.
The shoot out would prove a rare one for Duluth, who have earned a near perfect record in penalties after winning one USOC match and two NPSL playoff matches via shoot outs.