Memphis 901FC are ‘Up for the Cup’ in first ever home win in U.S. Open Cup

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MEMPHIS — Tim Mulqueen made seven changes to the starting XI in the 901 FC’s 3-1 victory over New York Red Bulls U-23.

Right-back Josh Morton registered a brace, Lagos Kunga added an assist and Cameron Lindley scored a free-kick.

The match did not start as planned, thanks to the unpredictable Memphis weather. Kickoff was delayed an hour to 8:00 p.m. due to a lightning delay.

With the Bluff City Mafia roaring in the stands, Memphis got off to a fast start.  They nearly scored in less than two minutes when Abdi Mohamed carved his way into the box.

The Red Bulls opened the scoring minutes later, against the run of play, in the fifth minute. Forward Jean Paul Marin bodied the smaller Mohamed in the box and hit a low-driven shot past a sprawling Scott Levene.

The 901 FC wasted little time before they drew level, three minutes to be exact. Forward Luca Uccello won a free-kick on the edge of the box and captain Cameron Lindley immediately lined up to take the kick. He took two steps and blasted his free-kick into the top-left corner. NYRB’s goalkeeper, Marcelin Gohier had no chance at the save.

Memphis gained momentum from the goal/fan’s chants and began to enact their tactics on the opposition.

Newcomer, Kunga arrived to the Bluff City on Wednesday and immediately made an impact in the cup.  His teammates gave him opportunities early in the match and he nearly pulled Memphis ahead in the 15th minute. Kunga received the ball on the left wing, beat three defenders with his dribbling and should have scored but he attempted a pass and NYRB cleared.

Marin and the Red Bulls nearly pulled ahead minutes later as Lindley was dispossessed at the half-way line. Marin had space in the box but 901 defender, Jacob Hauser-Ramsey closed him down and Levene scooped up the loose ball.

Memphis settled back in possession and moved the ball around effectively. NYRB’s struggled to defend and a go-ahead goal seemed imminent.

Kunga produced the best flurry of skill to facilitate the 901 FC’s second goal. The winger received the ball on the edge of the box, beat three defenders with quick feet and laid off a pass into the run of Morton. The defender’s one-time finish deflected off the outstretched hand of Gohier and into the net.  The crowd erupted as Morton ran to his Kunga and the pair celebrated with their teammates.

The Red Bulls immediately broke out and threatened to level the score line moments later. Center-back, Tristan Hodge thwarted the attack and Memphis looked to see out the half up 2-1.

The first half was essentially dominated by Memphis. They ended the half with 61 percent possession, six shots and had 91 more passes than the Red Bulls.

The 901 FC carried their same pass-heavy tactics into the second half. The Red Bulls were clearly not as fit, due to the fact that this was NYRB’s first competitive match of the season.  Memphis never allowed the Red Bull’s midfield to sit back and enjoy possession. Head Coach Tim Mulqueen enforced constant pressure and the opposition never found the edge.

The first 20 minutes of the second half were uneventful until Morton completed his brace.  Memphis won a corner in the 73rd minute and Lindley stepped up to the corner flag. He sent a powered cross directly to Morton who nudged his headed effort past Gohier.

Mulqueen decided to implement more defensive minded tactics in order to see out the 3-1 cup win. Memphis stood strong at the back-line for the final 20 minutes as the 901 FC recorded their first home win in team history.

Memphis has two days off before returning to AutoZone Park. Kickoff against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC is set for Saturday at 7:00 p.m.

Written by: Caleb Hilliard 

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