The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup returned after its extended hiatus with a local showdown that won’t be easily forgotten in a hurry as D’Feeters Kicks SC ran out 3-2 winners with a controversial end to the game.
“Coming here to a rival team – they beat us the last couple of times in the Roja League, so a little payback for all the times they beat us. It feels great.”DKSC defender Stephen Gonzales
Denton, celebrating their finally moment after originally qualifying for the canceled 2020 edition, got the start they wanted in front of a home crowd at the University of North Texas. Julio Vargas met a cross from Alex Estrada at the back post nine minutes in. DKSC keeper Anthony Rodriguez looked to get a hand to the ball on the way in.
DKSC equalized in the 24th minute through Sebastian Mendez after the Diablos backline sent a clearance to Mendez, who gladly finished.
Reigning UPSL Championship MVP Miles Byass was the center of attention as the UPSL expansion side qualified for its first Open Cup, and gave D’Feeters Kicks its first lead just after the half hour mark with an impressive finish on the ground. Byass was able to get down to slide home a Luis Hernandez cross.
DKSC thought they’d extended the lead moments later as Adrian Renteria headed across goal with Steven Chavez bundling the ball across the line. The first questionable call of the night saw an offside call in the belief that Byass flicked on a ball he didn’t appear to be close to.
The two sides would trade goals late in the first half. Brandon Cerda – Denton’s man of the match – restored parity in similar circumstances to Mendez earlier. Renteria provided for Chavez once again in first half stoppage time and it counted this time to send DKSC in leading 3-2.
Both teams struggled in out of season form, but Denton clearly missed a large contingent of their NPSL Championship team with the likes of Sam Coad and Trevor Amann still in NCAA play. Diablos coach Ramon Raya spoke of the timing of the cup diluting competition when teams, still two months away from their season, have so many players unavilable.
Raya’s side was handed a lifeline just seven minutes into the second half when the influencial Renteria was sent off for kicking a ball at a prone opponent after half-time sub Antonio Perez was fouled.
Denton weren’t able to take advantage before also being reduced to ten men in the 70th minute. Alex Estrada saw red for a stamp.
DKSC had a strong vocal backing by members of the D’Feeters and Kicks youth teams, while the biggest cheer of the night from the home fans came with the announcement of five minutes of added time.
Julian Barajas brought the game back to life as the clock passed 90, popping the ball up over a defender before seeing his half volley narrowly tipped wide. The resulting corner saw Chris Torres power a header that appeared to be blocked on the line with an arm. As the referee waved away appeals for a handball, DKSC broke downfield until Carlos Flores committed a foul to stop play. The Diablos captain quickly saw a yellow and a red card after strongly remonstrating with the referee.
For Denton, it’s disappointment after a two year wait to get in the tournament.
DKSC are rewarded with a trip to USL Championship side San Antonio FC in the second round. The game will take place on Tuesday, April 5, just days after their UPSL campaign begins.