10/18/2021 4:31 PM
Article By: Mathias Medel
The second qualifying round for the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup saw Chula Vista FC convincingly defeat White Tigers FC 2-0, with goals coming from midfielder Jorge Navarro and forward Oscar Hernandez.
After a slow-paced beginning to the opening 45 minutes, Navarro got his name on the scoresheet in the 30th minute off of a well-placed, driven strike from a few yards out. The midfielder, who has been playing for Chula Vista for nearly six years, commented that his commitment to the squad came from the strong relationships and winning culture present throughout the team.
“The kind of culture that we have here, that committee, the friendship, everyone on the team is really cool”, said Navarro. “We all get along, and we've just known each other and played for a while so it's a good group.”
Entering the second half winning 1-0, Chula Vista continued to possess the ball, as White Tigers FC struggled to get any momentum going. The home side saw several opportunities to double their lead as the half progressed, with one ball being saved from the away team’s goal line.
Nearing the end of the match, in the 86th minute, Chula Vista was awarded a penalty kick after Hernandez was brought down in the box. He securely converted from the spot, doubling his team’s lead, and earning the victory after the referee blew his whistle to end the game.
One of Chula Vista’s best performances came from Hernan Maldonado, who played as a striker in the first half before transitioning to a center-defending role in the second. He emphasized that his flexibility to play in different positions derives from whatever the team needs.
“I just try to do the best I can for the team and [if] they need me to play in any position, I'm willing to play”, Maldonado said.
Following a dramatic qualifying campaign in 2019, where CVFC made history becoming the first team since the current Open Division Local qualifying tournament was launched in 2015 to qualify for the US Open Cup with three consecutive penalty kick shootout wins, Maldonado explained the importance of winning in the first 90 minutes.
“You gotta take the wins, and we don't want to go dramatically because that just takes a toll on the rest of the team going forward”, Maldonado said. “It feels good to get [a clean sheet], [and] we got the win, so that's the important part.
With Sunday’s win, Chula Vista now eagerly awaits their upcoming opponents for the third qualifying round in November, as they look to continue improving and to earn a spot in the 107th edition of the tournament commencing in 2022.
“[We need to improve] our build up, connecting better passes, [and] just getting a rhythm down within the group”, Navarro said. “It's been a while but I definitely got to get the nervousness out of the first game and I think we'll be fine going forward.”