NYCFC II uses extra-time rally to defeat Hartford Athletic in U.S. Open Cup Third Round


There were three MLS NEXT Pro clubs in action on Wednesday as the U.S. Open Cup third round came to a close, but only one would seal their spot into May's Round of 32.

NYCFC II rallied in extra time to defeat USL side Hartford Athletic 3-2 at Trinity Health Stadium, using a brace from Taylor Calheira and a winning goal from 16-year-old Maximo Carrizo to advance. Matt Pilkington's squad witnessed Calheira's opening goal cancelled out by Romario Williams' penalty-kick equalizer before 30 minutes of extra time was needed to find a winner.

“It's great. The guys are buzzing," Calheira said postmatch about the win. "Everyone's super excited. I know we're the only MLS NEXT Pro team, but this is where we want to be. As I said, at the end of the day, we all are pros, and we all want to keep moving forward in the tournament, and we just keep gaining confidence as we keep moving on.” .

Following a goal-less first half, NYCFC II raced in front after the hour mark. Calheira's left-footed finish off of a Jonathan Jimenez assist propelled the visitors in front 1-0.

Williams would equalize for Hartford however in the 81st minute, stepping up from the penalty spot and drilling a shot down the middle of the net. Alexander Hauschild fouled Williams in the box and the Jamaican internationa made no mistake to make it 1-1.

Hartford would snatch a 2-1 lead in the early stages of extra time as Deshane Beckford slotted home Williams' headed pass for a 2-1 advantage. NYCFC II would not lie down though and eventually rallied to flip the tie in their favor.

The Jimenez-Calheira connection tied the match in the 99th minute as Jimenez's cross was met by Calheira's head for a 2-2 scoreline. It marked Calheira's second goal of the match and Jimenez's second assist.

With both teams pressing for a winning goal before spot kicks, it was Carrizo who stepped up with 11 minutes to play. The 16-year-old's rebound finish proved to be the difference as NYCFC II hung on for a 3-2 road result.

For Carrizo, it marked his second U.S. Open Cup goal and third across all competitions in 2024 after scoring once in NYCFC II's 6-2 league win over New England Revolution II on April 14. Carrizo's goal against Revs II finished as one of four finalists for MLS NEXT Pro Goal of Matchweek 5.

"It's great," Pilkington said postmatch about Carrizo delivering the winning goal. "I mean, it's fantastic for him and the work he's put in. He's quite young, so we have to manage his loads at times, but he looks fresher and fitter than he's been. There were points in the game where he looked a little tired, but he got his second wind. He comes alive around the box."

"He nearly scored in extra time before he got the goal, so he's dangerous," Pilkington added. "I think even towards the end, for him to play 90 [minutes] plus 30 [minutes] in a game like this just shows how hard he's working in training and how hard he's been working in games so far this season."

NYCFC II will now be joined by eight MLS clubs in May's Round of 32.

Atlanta United FC, FC Dallas, defending U.S. Open Cup Champion Houston Dynamo FC, Los Angeles FC, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC and Sporting Kansas City all enter the competition in the next round.

“That's our goal," Calheira said when asked about facing MLS sides. "When we came into this game, we knew in the next round, the big dogs come in. We're all developing, and that's where we want to be at the end of the day. The better the competition, the better we move on, the better we grow as teammates, and that's what we can do moving forward."

NYCFC II will face off against USL Championship side Colorado Springs Switchbacks in their Round of 32 matchup. Before that, they will resume their league schedule on April 21st with a a trip to Ohio to face off against Columbus Crew 2.