Akron City FC shines in 4-2 win in quarterfinal round of USASA Amateurs Cup

ACFC’s first appearance in the Amateurs Cup results in a nail-biting win

Writer: Sideline and Beat Reporter, Cade Cracas

Akron, Ohio- Akron City FC (ACFC) found success in the club’s first-ever appearance in cup competition.

The win came against Midwest Premier League side, Northern Indiana FC (NIFC), by a final score of 4-2. Throughout the entirety of the outing on Sunday, June 2, the two sides battled back and forth with multiple blows being exchanged.

The final score wasn’t solidified until extra time after a 2-2 level score through 90 minutes paved the way for the go-ahead goal by forward Ryan Kingsford in the 95th minute.

“I think we were unhappy with what we did in the first half, not just as a staff but the players too,” said ACFC Head Coach Andy Hoggarth. “They weren’t happy with how we played as a group. In that second half, we fought to get back into it.

“We knew that if we went to extra time though, fitness wise, we would be comfortable.”

Heading into Sunday’s outing, ACFC brought many new faces to the pitch for their first opportunity in the USASA Amateurs Cup. Starting in goal was Naeemy, who made his debut for the club making countless saves.

The action was kickstarted in the 6th minute with numerous looks for NIFC, as the defense for Akron was caught sleeping.

They proceeded to play the ball back and forth between one another when NIFC attacker, Andres Gonzalez Maza, stole the ball away. He would ultimately barely miss his shot toward the lower left corner, keeping the game level at zero.

Heading into the dying embers of the first half, the home team was still looking for their first chance on goal.

The offense for ACFC would finally break through the NIFC backline in the 28th minute.

Forward Sam Sarver beat the NIFC defense by himself, cutting his way back in towards the six-yard box. He would then, unselfishly, dish it off to counterpart Ryan Kingsford who squared up the ball and shot it just wide of the bottom left corner.

“It is important to get these opportunities, but we only had one and that’s unacceptable,” Hoggarth said at halftime. “The work rate and effort hasn’t been good enough. We are stuck in our comfort zone.”

Within the opening 32 minutes, four yellow cards were distributed between both teams, showcasing the intensity and aggression on the pitch.

After a foul was called in the 32nd minute, a free kick would be issued on the edge of the 18. A perfect cross found NIFC defender Eduardo Da Silva, who headed it past Naeemy for the game’s first goal.

At the halftime break, Hoggarth wanted to see his team step up, play harder and contribute to better looks.

“[We need to] work hard, play physical, bring intensity and desire,” Hoggarth said. “Sometimes we believe we are better than we are and we just aren’t showing it right now.

“We need to be a bit more physical.”

To begin the second half, the flow of the game remained the same as it had been through the opening 45 minutes.

In the 58th minute, Naeemy was caught off his line after the ACFC defense lost possession of the ball and was nearly chipped by the opposition. Fortunately, it went above the crossbar by roughly 5 feet.

Roughly five minutes later the game would become level once again.

Sarver received the ball from midfielder Tomasso Villa. He then drilled it off the far left post before the ball bounced into the net. His goal would tie the game at one.

The tying tally also marked the third straight game that Sarver had found a goal.

However, just as quickly as the scoreline became level, it once against changed.

In the 72nd minute, NIFC’s Gonzalez Maza tapped the ball once with his right foot before blasting the ball with his right foot. His shot would carom off the right post and settle in the net for the go-ahead goal.

The remaining 18 minutes would be marked by a higher mark of pressure from ACFC’s offense as they attempted to regain an equal scoreline.

Against all odds, they would.

As the contest dwindled to a close, Kingsford received the ball in front of the goal outside of the box after the ball was deflected by the NIFC defense. The ball settled right at the foot of Kingsford who played it right into the middle of the empty goal with five minutes to go.

“He is always making himself known,” Hoggarth said.

With the game level at twos, both teams would be in store for extra time.

“We finally turned it on in the second half,” Kingsford said. “Everyone off the bench did massive things in the game. It showed in the scoreline.

“Through the first 75 minutes, sometimes it doesn’t work, and coaches have to make some big decisions… it paid off for us.”

ACFC came out exploding as they put three shots on goal within the first three minutes, putting immediate pressure on their opposition.

In the fifth minute of extra time, forward Pedro Faria was knocked down to the pitch inside the box which resulted in a penalty kick being given to the home side. Kingsford, one of the fan-favorites for the club, buried it into the bottom left corner for the eventual game-winning goal.

For the next 20 minutes, NIFC was given few opportunities to tie up the game, as ACFC attempted to extend their lead.

“They knew they had to take a step up in the second half [and in extra time] and they did,” Hoggarth said.

They found one more goal at the foot of midfielder Jackson Herbert in the 127th minute that would slam the door shut for ACFC.

The final score, 4-2, resulted in a win for ACFC with Kingsford finding two, with Sarver and Herbert finishing with one.

“Sam [Sarver], coming out of Indiana University in the Big 10, at a 4-2 game he was making a 70-yard sprint,” Hoggarth said. “Thats where players are going to be successful.

“Their attitude to fight through is unbelievable.”

The win moves ACFC to 2-2 overall on the season and will advance to the semifinal round of the USASA Amateurs Cup. For NIFC, they fall to a 4-1 record and will be knocked out of the cup.

“Now it’s a coin toss of whether we go to Milwaukee or stay here for the semifinal round,” Hoggarth said. “We want to entertain Akron... I love the cup competition.”

ACFC will next hit the field on Wednesday, June 5, at 7:00 p.m. EST against Niagara 1812 on the road.


Tickets for the outing can be found here: https://tickets.passagesports.com/events/niagara1812-npsl-0605/event_times