Ocean City upsets a pro team for sixth time, will play North Carolina FC in Round 3 on May 22
The Ocean City Nor'easters have advanced to the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup after upsetting the Charlotte Independence of the United Soccer League (USL), 3-1.
This is the sixth time in club history that Ocean City has defeated a pro team in US Open Cup play, but this marks the first time that the Nor'easters have upset a pro team on the road.
After traveling roughly 600 miles south to Matthews, NC (Charlotte suburb), the Nor'eaters jumped all over Charlotte in the opening seven minutes of the game. Kyle Gurrieri (South Carolina / Totowa, NJ) scored two goals to give Ocean City a shock 2-0 lead. Fredlin "Fredinho" Momepremier (Fairleigh Dickinson / Limbe, Haiti) added another shortly before halftime to give the Storm a 3-0 halftime lead and they didn't look back. Deri Corfe (Wright State / Chester, England) had two assists in the game, matching his total from the team's win over AFC Ann Arbor. The former Manchester City youth player now leads the tournament in assists with four.
"We are very happy with our win tonight," said Nor'easters head coach John Thompson. "It was an extremely hard fought game. It's never easy to play on the road, especially when you have weather delays but our boys were professional from the first to the last minute."
It was the 11th US Open Cup win as a PDL team (12th overall) for Ocean City, which is one shy of second place among all amateur teams in the Modern Era.
"This club has a such a great history in this tournament, and we are here to add to that," said Thompson.
With the win, the Nor'easters will advance to the Third Round (for the fourth time) where they will have to return to North Carolina -- this time to Cary, NC -- to face another USL team: North Carolina FC.
The game will be played on Tuesday, May 22, and is the only tournament game on the schedule so the two teams will be the sole attraction of the tournament as the remaining 11 games of the round will be played the following day. The game will be played at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Park in Cary, NC. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
All of the Third Round winners will move on to the Fourth Round where all of the American-based teams from Major League Soccer join the competition. If the Nor'easters are able to get past NCFC, there is a good chance that they will face a MLS team. Ocean City has played two MLS teams in tournament play, both losing very competitive games to D.C. United (2009) and the Philadelphia Union (2013).
The Nor'easters got their offense going early as they scored twice in the first seven minutes of the match leaving the hosts shell-shocked. Gurrieri scored in the fourth minute when Williams N'Dah (Charleston / Rome, Italy) took a shot from the edge of the penalty area that was deflected, came off the post and fell to Gurrieri to put the underdogs up.
Three minutes later, Corfe crossed the ball from the right side of the box to Gurrieri who scored on a nearly wide-open net to double the lead. The first goal gave the Nor'easters an advantage. The second gave them some breathing room.
Ocean City did not let their foot off the gas in the first half. Fredinho made it a 3-0 lead in the 44th minute when he received a Corfe pass, he took one touch to gather the ball before sliding and firing it past the keeper and inside the near post.
The Independence made the second half interesting when Jorge Herrera pulled a goal back in the 58th minute. Herrera received a cross from Sam Vines that he put past Smir. This was the one smudge on Smir's otherwise exceptional night in the net for the boys in orange. The University of North Carolina keeper had five saves on the night after Charlotte rifled a whopping 25 shots toward his goal on the night.
Scoring early allowed Ocean City to sit behind the ball and contain the game defensively. They played the majority of the match without the ball, but somehow still had control of the game.
The Nor'easters continue their very busy opening few weeks of the season as they return home where they will jump right back into league play. Ocean City will travel to Long Island to take on the Rough Riders on Saturday, May 19. The Rough Riders also qualified for the Open Cup but were eliminated by the defending USL champion Louisville City FC by the score of 5-0. The goalkeeper picking up the clean sheet in that game was none other than former Ocean City goalkeeper Tim Dobrowolski.
When the dust settled on the Second Round of the tournament, the Nor'easters were one of nine "open division" teams remaining (teams in leagues outside of MLS and the USL), and one of three from the PDL.
UNSUNG HERO OF THE GAME
Uros Ilic (Missouri Valley College / Nova Pazova, Serbia) - The reigning NAIA National Player of the Year shined for the Ocean City defense as he limited Charlotte's quality chances. Where he shined most was in the second half where, according to Coach John Thompson, he "cleared just about everything that came his way" as the defense held on for the 3-1 win.