Report: Carolina Railhawks 1 - Real Maryland 0
US Open Cup 2nd Round
By Max Lom
Real Maryland dropped a heartbreaker in the US Open Cup second round against the USL-1 side Carolina Railhawks, after conceding a penalty in the 90th minute. Despite playing perhaps their best 90 minutes of the season as well as registering 18 shots, the team failed to score for the third consecutive game.
The loss drops the team out of the knockout competition, meaning that they will only have the league season to focus on now for the rest of the year.
The Monarchs got off to a very good start as a run by midfielder Muner Hassen down the right side earned a free kick 25 yards from goal, giving Dennis Alas a chance to make an early mark on the game. His kick avoided the wall, but was too weak to trouble Carolina goalkeeper Chris McClellan, who made nine saves in the game.
Alas had another chance in the 13th minute when he stepped up for a free kick from 35 yards. He put that effort on frame and McClellan had to make a nice save to tip it over the crossbar and keep the game scoreless.
Carolina striker Dan Antoniuk had several chances for the Railhawks, but the Maryland defense always arrived just in time to block his chances.
Midway through the half, some great work between Ronald Cerritos and Hassen on the right side ended with a dangerous cross to striker Nilson Perez, who got tangled up with a Railhawk defender before sending his shot wide left.
Five minutes later, a harmless free kick from their own end almost turned into a goal for the Monarchs as Alas looked up and connected with his country-man Cerritos on a 60 yard pass which put him in on goal. McClellan rose to the challenge again, however, and turned away Cerritos’s effort.
In the 32nd, Alas found space in midfield and attempted to catch McClellan off his line with a lob from 45 yards out, but it went wide of the goal. Maryland continued to put pressure on the hosts for the rest of the half before a Carolina counter attack almost resulted in them taking the lead into halftime against the run of play.
Antoniuk brought a cross down very well with his chest, but his shot was just blocked out for a corner, preventing the Railhawks from scoring on their best chance of the game.
The beginning of the second half started with more end-to-end play as Cerritos received a low cross at the top of the box and managed a low shot which McClellan was able to save.
Maryland threatened again several minutes later, as Hassen beat his defender on the right side and made it to the endline before his cut-back pass was cut out by a defender.
Carolina threatened again in the 62nd minute as striker Caleb Norkus got in behind substitute Philippe Bissohang, but put his shot wide.
Former DC United striker Jamil Walker entered for Carolina in the 66th minute, and almost made an immediate impact as he capitalized on a defensive mix-up and found himself 1-on-1 with goalkeeper Emilio Zelaya, but he was unable to convert.
For a time, the Monarchs seemed content to defend, but in the 80th minute a fantastic long ball by Angel Higueras sprang Hassen on the right side, but he was unable to find a supporting player, and the attack fizzled.
Stephen Basso put pressure on the Railhawks in the 89th minute as he made a dangerous run to the byline from his left-back position, splitting two defenders in the process. His pass across goal was bounced around before it fell to substitute Teodoro Ramirez who smashed his shot wide right.
The game looked headed for extra time, but in the 90th minute a ball was chipped in over the Maryland defense for Walker who was then brought down by Zelaya, giving the Railhawks a last-minute penalty. Kupono Low coolly converted the penalty for the hosts, who ran out winners in a very entertaining affair.
The Railhawks now look forward to hosting the Kansas City Wizards of MLS next week, while Maryland will face Salvadoran champions Luis Angel Firpo on Friday.
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