Manager Eric Wynalda tweeted following Cal FC’s victory over the Wilmington Hammerheads in the second round of the US Open Cup, “win or lose we hope to get [sic] some of the best fans in the US a show. Portland here we come.”
And not only did Cal FC back his words by putting on a competitive game for the Portland fans but they did so by putting on a historic performance, a 1-0 win over the Timbers.
The amateur club, full of talent and some former professionals, maintained its composure amidst a bombardment of shots and a handful of seemingly inevitable goals from the Timbers until the one chance it needed appeared.
Cal FC forward Artur Aghasyan broke away in the 95th minute with only Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins standing in his way of the first-ever goal by a USASA team against a MLS club. The ball sailing over Perkins and sinking to the back of the net is certainly a moment he’d never forget—if he had any memory of it.
“Seriously I don’t remember, I just know I chipped it and there it was, in the back of the net,” he said following the historic game.
Aghasyan’s performance was only topped by Cal FC goalkeeper Derby Carrillo, who had 13 saves and faced 43 shots. He escaped Portland’s best chance of the night when forward Kris Boyd skied a penalty kick in the 80th minute.
Carrillo was simply in the right place at the right time for the majority of Portland’s attempts. He made one fantastic save in the second half of extra time on a header from forward Jorge Perlaza that nearly snuck into the right side of the net.
“Obviously, tonight wasn’t Portland’s night,” Wynalda said. “They had their chances and it just didn’t work out for them. We kind of had a plan and that was to sustain a lot of pressure. We definitely are not fit enough to play with these guys, because we had to change our line up six times before tonight.”
Cal FC will continue their run next Tuesday as they’ll take on the three-time defending champion Seattle Sounders. They’ll look to add a few more “firsts” to their name and hope the clock won’t strike midnight just yet.
"I think we are the ultimate Cinderella story -- that’s for sure," Wynalda said. "A bunch of misfit kids who did something unbelievable. This is what this Cup is about."