Rookie Devon Sandoval played the hero's role on the evening. The second-round 2013 SuperDraft pick from the University of New Mexico got on the end of a Joao Plata cross in the seventh minute of overtime to score his second goal of the game and third of the tournament, tying him with Kyle Beckerman, Andy Williams and current RSL head coach Jason Kreis for the all-time team lead in the Open Cup.
“I have a migraine now, that’s my emotion," said head coach Jason Kreis. "I was really disappointed, obviously, with what happened in the first half. I thought we started out pretty decently. We moved the ball up the field, trying to break them down, and make things difficult, as is typical, and the first basic chance they get behind our back four, they score. It was very frustrating, but then our reaction for the next ten or fifteen minutes was very poor. To get their second goal really put us in an awkward position. I challenged the guys at halftime, and credit to them for the response they showed – to score five goals in a game is really good.”
Khari Stephenson added a goal later in the first period of extra time on a blast from 35 yards, and Javier Morales completed the onslaught as he finished off a penalty kick that was earned by Sandoval.
The game certainly didn't start out as the rout it ended up as, though. In fact, it looked to be a one-sided result to the visitors, who were up 2-0 within 18 minutes.
“The first half was definitely frustrating because we’ve got to come out better than that," said Sandoval. "They had a game-plan and executed it and got two goals from it. The second half we came out a lot better and got our chances and put them away.”
Dane Kelly put Charleston up 1-0 in the 16th minute, Nicki Paterson scored two minutes later to shock the home crowd, and with the early lead, the plan was simple for the USL PRO side – bunker in. Charleston began dropping 10 players behind the ball, filling every space possible and charging down any RSL player that got within 30 yards of the goal.
The tactic worked for three-quarters of an hour, but Sandoval pulled one back for RSL in the 66th minute, finally shifting the momentum back towards the home side. Tony Beltran sent in a beautiful ball from the right side, and Sandoval found the space in front of the net to get his head to it and make for an interesting remaining 24 minutes.
Any previous attempt the Battery made at retaining possession to create an attack was gone; they were content to simply clear the ball long and regroup defensively, but it wasn't enough.
In the 79th minute, following wave after wave of attacks, Plata was tripped up in the penalty area and converted the resulting spot kick himself, knotting things up until the overtime explosion.
"It was our normal energy and commitment level at the beginning of the game as it usually is," said midfielder Ned Grabavoy. "No probably not, but saying that, I thought that we played decently well. The problem is you give up two goals like that, and they go even more into a shell and it falls right into their game-plan. So from there it's just to grind it out. Keep trying to play and create chances to try to get it back to 2-2, which we did and almost 3-2 before the overtime. We could feel them wearing down a little bit, especially before half time."
RSL will now look to the quarterfinals on June 26 when they will host the upstart Carolina RailHawks, who have knocked off both the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA in their cup run. The Claret-and-Cobalt will also be back in league action on June 22, when they host the LA Galaxy.