Forward Madison 2-3 Chicago House AC - U.S. Open Cup 2nd round match report: Magic
Photo via @ForwardMSNFC

Chicago House Athletic Club’s U.S. Open Cup dream will continue on as they beat Forward Madison 3-2 at Breese Stevens Field in their 2nd round contest.

An absolutely unreal contest, the home side actually went 2-0 up on the night moments into the second half. The matchup seemed over at that stage, but Chicago never gave up, pulling one back with 15 minutes to go before tying things up in stoppage time.

The House completed the comeback in overtime, snatching a goal at the end of the first period to jump in front for the first time. They managed to do what the Mingo’s couldn’t, and that was hold on to the lead to secure a monumental victory.

They booked their spots in the 3rd round as a result, where they'll take on fellow Windy City side the Chicago Fire

Story of the match

The first chance of the contest came after five minutes. An excellent cross picked out Christian Chaney in the box, and his headed attempt was a good one. It wasn’t good enough, though, and he was denied by the bar.

Another headed chance came soon after, with this one falling to the House. Naz Kabbani rose highest following a corner, but he couldn’t redirect the ball on frame.

The opener came in the 19th minute. A well-worked give-and-go got Jayden Onen past the backline, and at that point it was too simple, as he opened up his hips and curled a low shot into the opposite corner.

Onen nearly had a second moments later, as he got on the end of a cross hit into the area. He made solid contact on a volley, but it went wide of the goal.

Madison kept pushing forward, and they had another opportunity a bit past the half-hour mark. They burst down the right wing before cutting the ball back across the box, and they got a shot off, but it was heroically blocked by Jack Kramer.

They then should have probably had a penalty. Tino Vasquez slipped Chaney into space, and he was seemingly taken out by a defender. The referee had a better view than I did, though, and he chose not to point to the spot.

Chicago managed to carve out a chance of their own before the break. A long ball found Adam Mann in behind the defense, and his strike was a solid one, but it hit the wrong side of the side-netting. Nearly route-one football at its finest.

The frantic pace of the contest continued, with the Mingo's hitting the crossbar up the other side of the field. A cross rolled all the way to Mauro Cichero at the backpost, and he had plenty of time to pick his spot. He couldn’t convert, though, slamming the crossbar with an attempt from close-range.

The halftime whistle came right after, giving everyone a chance to breathe.

Things kept happening following the break, with Madison doubling their advantage moments into the start of the second half. Onen found Vasquez with a lovely pass, and the latter made the most of the moment by settling himself before rifling home from close range. 

Just when it seemed like the hosts were set to kill off the contest, Chicago found life again. Hitting on the break, Ricardo Avalos got the ball to Mann, and he did the rest, blasting a low shot past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

That moment of magic gave the House loads of momentum, and now they were the ones on the attack. 

They didn’t carve out many openings before the night was done, but they didn’t need to. They only needed one. A long ball lumped into the area wasn’t dealt with by Madison, which allowed it to fall to AR Smith. He didn’t let the opening pass him by, and he instead finished off the opportunity with a smart strike that got by everyone.

The first opportunity of extra-time went to the home side. Onen’s powerful strike was hit right at Tony Halterman, but the goalkeeper let the ball squeak through his hands. Fortunately for him the ball hit the crossbar instead of going in, and then the keeper eventually dealt with the rebound.

Madison had another chance at the end of the first overtime period. Onen was involved once again, dribbling on and on before laying the ball off to Isidro Martinez. He bottled it, though, blasting a shot well off target.

That wasn’t the end of the action in terms of the first 15 minutes. A goal did come, but it was scored by Chicago. It came via Smith again, who picked up the ball in the box, cut inside, and placed a low shot into the back of the net.

The hosts now knew they only had 15 minutes to respond. They threw the kitchen sink at the opposition, getting the ball forward every chance they could. They came really close midway through, as a cross picked out Derek Gebhard in the box, but he couldn’t find his feet and get a shot off, so the ball just hit him before going out of play.

Another cross led to another opportunity, but this one was also wasted since the header went wide. The same happened with a shot from distance soon after. 

Those proved to be the final highlights of the night, with the House holding on to secure the massive victory.

Takeaways

The Madison press box is not up to standard. It was quite small, and it was on the same level as the field, so seeing everything was difficult. There was no wifi available early on, so I had to start this article while connected to my personal hotspot. There was a single outlet for everyone. One door had a busted doorknob, while the other slammed close everytime someone tried to leave or enter normally. The Milwaukee Torrent had a much better set up, for crying out loud.

It was an absolutely beautiful afternoon in terms of the weather. The sun was out, it was warm but not too warm. Perfect conditions for some soccer. Even when it got dark it wasn't too chilly.

Madison fans would start yelling out “woop” whenever the opposition had a corner, which was pretty funny. Good vibes.

Shoutout to whoever brought the #ProRel4USA banner.

It wasn’t quite a sellout, but the Forward faithful showed up for this game. There was a sizable crowd, and they were loud throughout, providing a really nice atmosphere to the contest.

Oskar Duenkel had a superb defensive showing off the bench. He was thrown into a really tough spot, and he did a great job of limiting the Mingo’s attacking players late on.

The addition of Nico Williams changed things for the House. Putting him up top and dropping Mann into a deeper role gave the team an extra body going forward, and the added amount of options made them much more dangerous in the final third. Hopefully we’ll see more of this system in the league. 

Adam Mann may have played every single outfield position over the course of the 120 minutes. 

I was going to applaud Madison for their professional performance, but they completely fell apart on the night. As soon as they gave up the first goal they went into a shell, and when the equalizer was scored they looked like they wanted to go into hiding. They had the chance to save themselves in overtime, but they fell flat, and they ultimately deserved to lose.

Chicago, meanwhile, continued to show just how much fight they have in them. This team literally refuses to die. They keep getting knocked down, and they keep getting back up against the odds. I’ve never seen anything like it, and they deserve everything good that comes to them.

Before everything went into chaos I was going to give Jayden Onen the man of the match award. Since he wasn’t at fault for what happened to his side, I’ll just copy and paste what I had written down in the past.

“You know when you go play some soccer in the park and there’s that one dude that’s just a bit better than everyone? Well, that was Jayden Onen on this night. The forward put on an attacking masterclass. He was incredibly effective whenever he got on the ball, either driving up the field with it himself or finding a teammate in space. The opposition couldn’t get him off of it, and he was a nuisance throughout. His goal was very well taken, as a one-two got him past the backline, and then he converted with calmness and composure to open the scoring. Onen turned from scorer to provider following the break, slipping in a teammate with a perfectly weighted pass to set up the second. It was a matchwinning performance, and the Chicago Fire will have to make sure they have a plan for him when their 3rd round tie against Madison comes around.”

We're actually going to get Chicago House AC vs the Chicago Fire. Dreamland stuff.

I won’t lie to you, I had like 80% of this match report typed up with 20 minutes to go in regulation because I assumed Madison was just going to hold on easily. I was wrong.

Long live the Open Cup.

Man of the match - AR Smith

Build AR Smith a statue.

The House’s captain was instrumental in his team’s remarkable comeback, scoring the tying and winning goals on the night. Both came in similar circumstances, as he had a loose ball fall to him, and then he made the most of the gifts by slotting home with composure despite all the pressure on him.

It was genuinely a historic performance. 

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