Penn FC showed up late to their Open Cup match both literally and figuratively. Their bus must have run into some traffic on the way to the stadium and kickoff was delayed about fifteen minutes as a result. Once things got underway, the boys in blue still didn’t look like they were warmed up and most of their offensive chances amounted to nothing. But it was a case of “better late than never” on Wednesday night as Penn FC hit their stride in the final twelve minutes to cruise to a 3-1 victory.
Penn FC put a strong foot forward defensively as Galvao, Hawkins, Venter, and Lewis have had plenty of starts in USL play this season. They got a bit more experimental in their attack and through the midfield. Ghanaian Isaac Osae made his debut for Penn FC as a striker and Prince Baffoe started as the 10 after having spent most of his time out wide this season.
However, the inventive lineup didn’t help Penn FC break out of their bad habits in the first half. This stats chart sums it up pretty well.
The first 45 minutes was almost exclusively made up of Penn FC holding possession, working the ball forward, and then failing to put the ball on goal. A lot of that was due to the FC Motown defense keeping a lot of men back to force Penn FC to frequently pass back and restart their attack. Aaron Dennis made some nifty passes to try and create space and Jerry Ortiz let loose with some free kicks, but the end result was only four shots for the half.
Penn FC still couldn’t get out of their funk in the second half and FC Motown made them pay for it. A poor pass at midfield presented an excellent opportunity to start a quick counter. Motown’s Christopher Katona was the one who capitalized and sent a ball to Dilly Duka with space to operate. Duka was one on one with Sean Lewis and sent a low ball to the far post that Lewis couldn’t get to. It was 1-0 in favor of the amateur side in the 53rd minute.
Head Coach Raoul Voss didn’t wait long to switch things up after going down to FC Motown. Lucky Mkosana came on for Isaac Osae and Richard Menjivar came on for Jerry Ortiz. Menjivar appeared to take the 10 role from Prince Baffoe and Baffoe slid out wide on the right side. But these subs didn’t pay immediate dividends. To make matters worse, Calvin Rezende took a bump and had to leave the pitch. Voss ultimately decided to bring on Saalih Muhammad to replace him, and Penn FC was out of subs in the 66th minute.
Gamesmanship soon came into play for FC Motown as they attempted to protect their one goal lead. The ball boys were largely absent Wednesday night, so the keeper was responsible for walking over to collect any goal kicks that came his way. This allowed him to burn off about a minute per kick. And they also helped their cause by keeping up their attack when opportunities presented themselves. They nearly doubled their lead off of a corner in the 76th minute. Penn FC was running out of time to find an equalizer.
The big moment finally came in the 79th minute courtesy of last week’s hero, Miguel Jaime. A Penn FC pass came into the box, but the FC Motown defense made a high, short clearance to disrupt the play. But the ball ultimately came to Jaime and he was able to shake a defender to create space. He sent a bouncing, left-footed shot for the right side of the net. The FC Motown keeper couldn’t reach it, and the pro team was able to equalize.
Unfortunately for FC Motown, they made a huge mental mistake by not keeping their heads in the game after surrendering a goal. After they restarted play, they almost immediately turned the ball over. This time it was Baffoe who got too much space just outside the box and he fired a laser shot that snuck in under the crossbar. Penn FC had equalized then scored the go ahead goal in a span of fifty-seven seconds.
This managed to take most of the air out of FC Motown. They pushed for an equalizer, but Penn FC’s ability to dominate possession gave them few opportunities. Ultimately they ran out of gas, which gave Pedro Galvao the chance to put away one more goal for Penn FC. In stoppage time, Galvao got the ball and midfield and then proceeded to dribble it by himself all the way the net before blasting in his shot to seal it.
Shortly after this goal, my stream died for the fifth and final time of the evening. Hopefully they can improve that aspect for next week.
Penn FC has another USL bye week coming up. Their next match will be their US Open Cup 3rd Round match away against the Richmond Kickers next Wednesday.