Saturday, April 06, 2013

Athletics Advance in US Open Cup Qualifying

The Kansas City Athletics moved one step closer to qualifying for their second striaght US Open Cup today with a 3-1 over FC Indiana.  The win sees the Athletics advance to the semifinals along with RWB Adria, Dearborn Stars, and FC Indiana.  FC Indiana advanced because they had the best goal difference of the losers (-2) and scored more goals (1) than the Croatian Eagles who also lost by 2, but did not score.

The game started off with the Athletics in control early.  Inside the first two minutes the Athletics looked like they'd taken the league, but the call was called back due to an offside call on the goal.  It wasn't long before the Athletics did grab the lead though.  The Athletics worked the ball down the left wing and crossed the ball into the middle where it found Brian Williams unmarked in the middle of the box.  Williams headed the ball back towards the near post and into the net giving the Athletics a 1-0 lead. 

FC Indiana employed an odd strategy from the start of the game, they were happy to play the ball away and sit with 10 players behind the ball, playing more of a 5-5-0 with no forwards. With the game played on a turf football field you got an idea of how far they moved up the field and it took a good 25 minutes before an FC Indiana player crossed the 40 yard line on KC's defensive half of the field.  Any time they got the ball they played the ball back up field and reorganized.  This lead to the Athletics having the vast majority of the possession throughout the first half.  With Indiana clogging much of the middle of the field they tried playing the ball over the top, but this led to a number of offside calls against KC.

The Athletics pressed the game creating opportunities but it took until the 37th minute before they doubled their lead.  After some more work down the left the ball was played into the middle for Matt Kuhn.  The former DC United draft pick and Sporting KC trialist took a touch, turning and fired a ball from about 25 yards out that hit off the post and went in making it 2-0 to Kansas City.  The Athletics went into the half time break with the 2-0 lead and FC Indiana having only a single shot due to the tactics they employed that saw them sit deep in their own end.

In the second half with the wind more at their back the thought was that Indiana would come out of their shell a bit more and look to get back into the game.  Instead Indiana sat back again letting the Athletics have much of the ball. With the wind more at their back that was out as a reason for Indiana's tactics in the first half, so thoughts turned to whether Indiana was just playing to minimize the goal difference and hope to sneak into the semifinals as the "best" loser. Before the hour mark the Athletics again put a dent in that mindset after a foul in the penalty area.  Garrett Webb stepped up and buried the penalty kick to make it 3-0 Athletics. 

Shortly after the Athletics had made it 3-0, FC Indiana found a goal to pull themselves back into the game.  A long ball over the top led to a break away for Indiana that they converted to make it 3-1 and get Indiana back within 2.  After the goal, Indiana seemed to finally come out a bit more and attempt to take the game to Kansas City.  Indiana created a few chances themselves including a back post cross that just missed a sliding attacker that would have pulled them within 1.  This also opened the game up at the other end as the Athletics looked to counter and just missed once or twice on breakaways themselves, including a chip that went just over the bar. 

FC Indiana wasn't able to close the gap any more and the Athletics came away with the 3-1 win.  Due to the other results though Indiana also advanced to the semifinals.  The teams will find out their draw for the semifinals tomorrow.  A win in the next round would see either team qualify for the US Open Cup proper.

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