The Fresno Fuego were eliminated in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup following a 3-1 loss to Phoenix Rising FC at Fresno State Soccer Field on Wednesday night.
“We had one sleepy moment on that corner kick and we paid the price for it,” Fuego manager Brian Zwaschka said. “Right after that, we left ourselves a little too open, and they punished us. Apart of that, I thought it was a good performance. We created dangerous chances, but credit to their goalkeeper, he kept them in it.”
Phoenix Rising broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute when Kody Wakasa finished a strike off of a corner kick, beating Fuego goalkeeper Agustin Rey near post for the 1-0 advantage.
After a Fuego giveaway one minute later in the midfield, Eric Avila struck Mike Seth’s cross into the back of the net to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.
In the 54th minute, Seth got a goal of his own on a tap in to make it 3-0 Phoenix Rising.
The Fuego would get a goal back in the 59th minute when substitute Fellipe Oliveira made it 3-1, but that was all Fresno could get past Phoenix goalkeeper Josh Cohen.
Zwaschka was visibly frustrated on the touchline after Abraham Campos received a red card in the 83rd minute, and he felt like it changed the momentum of the match.
“In the second half, we lost focus, and being a man down later, was disappointing,” Zwaschka said. “We tied our hands behind our backs after that.”
Rey believes the team had a good showing against the USL side, and is ready to step back on the pitch in league play.
“They were just good,” Rey said of Phoenix Rising. “They are on a different level, and punished us in that three minute little spurt. I think we competed really well when you look at the entire game. Our next mission is to focus on the PDL season, and I’m ready to get back on the field for our next game.”
Zwaschka is glad the team will be able to unwind after having a month full of fixtures, and is ready to get on the training grounds to implement new tactics.
“Maybe it's the right amount of time,” Zwaschka said of the week and a half layoff. “There are things we need to work on. People think everything is going perfectly when you win three games, but there are always little things to work on. The layoff gives us time to reevaluate, and get some rest. It may be a good thing to have that bitter taste in our mouths for a week and a half.”
The club returns to action on Friday, May 26, as the Ventura County Fusion come to town. That match will be played at Chukchansi Park, with kickoff set for 7 30 p.m.
Fellipe Oliveira celebrating his goal with Bruno Brumati