Greenville’s Win over Oakland sends Club to third round
Goals from veterans Jake Keegan and Don Smart helped the Greenville Triumph Soccer Club rebound from a season-opening loss in league play to earn a strong 2-0 win over Oakland Roots SC in the Second Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at home on Thursday night, advancing the club to the third round in two weeks. The Open Cup is the oldest soccer tournament in the United States, making its’ return in 2022 after a two-year hiatus due to COVID.
“It took a lot in terms of mentality to turn around from a tough loss and pick yourself up,” said head coach John Harkes. “I was really proud of the boys. I think our tactical discipline was very good, and there were a lot of standout performances across the field.”
As the match began, it looked as if Greenville Triumph would yet again have to endure another scoreless match. Oakland remained in Greenville’s final third for a nearly a quarter of the first half, but failed to find the back of the net. A near-miss shot from Greenville’s Allen Gavilanes veered left of the net 20 minutes into the opening half, putting Oakland on its’ heels midway through the opening 45 minutes.
After a few defensive feats by center back, Jamie Smith and blocked volley by Triumph goalkeeper Paul Christensen off a Roots corner kick, it seemed Oakland had the momentum. However, Greenville countered with some luck, as Jake Keegan received a ball from Lucas Countinho and deftly chipped the Oakland keeper to put the Triumph up 1-0 in the 29th minute.
Oakland came out reenergized for the second half and quickly took control of the match. Christensen absorbed shot after shot, with some dangerous chances on frame forcing Greenville to take up a defensive stance. Greenville did find some success playing balls into space down the left side, but could not capitalize on those touches. In the 78th minute, Jake Keegan’s dropped a ball at Don Smart’s feet just inside the 6-yard box, but he was unable to finish. Greenville continued to fight, though, and Smart was able to redeem himself and punctuate the match with a clinching goal with a minute remaining, sending Greenville to a 2-0 win.
The Triumph will continue its’ Open Cup campaign in the third round in two weeks, with the opponent to be announced via a random draw on Friday, April 8. Stay tuned to Triumph social media channels for more information on the third round match.