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MNUFC2’s USOC Run Ends in Second Round

USOC Corner

The U.S. Open Cup returned to Allianz Field tonight in a hotly contested affair, seeing MNUFC2 fall to NISA’s Michigan Stars in extra time by a score of 0-2. Despite the final result, the Twos dominated play for much of the match, but a lack of sharpness in front of goal would ultimately cost them their spot in the tournament.

A cagey first half saw the visiting Stars get numbers behind the ball on defense, packing the box, cutting off all passing lanes and forcing the Twos to get creative. Some admirable efforts from Loïc Mesanvi and Hugo Bacharach served as bright spots in an otherwise lackluster first half, but MNUFC2 continued pushing.

Chance after chance went begging in the second half as the Loons kept up the pressure to create opportunities. Though they ended up outshooting the visitors 23 to 9, the shots themselves weren’t good enough to cause much trouble. A decent performance from the Stars’ keeper kept out the rest, giving his side the platform they needed if they were going to snag a win.

It was Michigan center back Sacko Konate’s header in the 100th minute that finally broke the deadlock, putting the visitors ahead and sending them into hysterics. A second goal in the 107th from Hunter Olson left little doubt about the final outcome, as the Stars truly earned their way into the next round with a commendable effort.

There were certainly positives on the night for the hosts, as the energy of the Academy players that earned minutes was noticeable and impactful. Tamer Ibsais went 120 minutes without losing a step, seemingly gaining energy as the game went on. Impressive runs from Nathan Moua down the right side created sparks time after time, while fellow U19s Julian Banks and Justin Arias performed admirably during their time on the pitch.

The Stars pulled off their game plan to near-perfection, with MLS veteran Justin Meram pulling the strings in the middle for a side that was clearly outmatched for large portions of the match. When you sit in and force the opposition to break you down, you play a dangerous game. Sometimes, though, playing dangerously pays off. At the end of the day, the Stars were able to execute their game plan, while a lack of shooting boots and urgency saw the Loons fall out of this year’s Open Cup.

The Twos will be back in MLS NEXT Pro action on April 21, when they’ll be taking on Timbers2 at Providence Park.


Timbers2 v MNUFC2

Providence Park | Portland, Oregon

04.21.24 | MLS NEXT Pro Game 3

4:00 p.m. CT (Watch on AppleTV’s MLS Season Pass)