The opening game of the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s Second Round went the way of the hosts at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida as the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the United Soccer League (USL) hammered Jacksonville Armada U-23 of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) 3-0 without so much as breaking a sweat.
Missing a handful of their regular starters – including three-time FA Cup winner and skipper Joe Cole – the Rowdies were in firm control of the contest from the opening whistle. It took the home side just three minutes to open the scoring when Canadian Kyle Porter fizzed in a long, looping effort from out near the touchline, a few yards over the midfield stripe. It looked like Jacksonville's goalkeeper Juan Fajardo back-peddled fast enough to keep the ball from going over the goal-line, but the referee pointed to the center-circle and the Rowdies were a goal to the good early on. They then kept possession of the ball for the vast majority of the first-half and it was no surprise when Michael Nanchoff picked Nurdin Hrustic’s pocket and worked himself a little space to hit home with his left foot from a tight angle in the dying moments of the opening period. The second goal of the game gave the USL side a well-deserved 2-0 lead at the break against their amateur opponents who failed to get much going in attack.
The Armada showed some pep early in the second-half, but it was little more than a false dawn. Their uphill climb became even steeper 20 minutes in when Dener Dos Santos was shown a straight red card for a tussle with Nanchoff on the touchline. Up a man and the better side even without the numerical superiority, the Rowdies took full advantage in what was left of the contest. In the 69th minute, stocky striker Martin Paterson made it 3-0 when he got on the end of a low Darwin Jones cross to hammer home from close range.
The 3-0 victory sees Tampa Bay move on to the Third Round of the 2017 U.S. Open Cup, where they will play the winner of the Wednesday night game between South Florida Surf of the Premier Development League (PDL) and Miami FC of the North American Soccer League (NASL).