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Boys Against Men: FC Motown 0 - 3 NYCFC II instant reaction

An elite youth team outplay adults with years of experience.

Everyone learned something in New York City FC II’s first-ever US Open Cup win on Thursday night. For starters, the fans – including the dedicated contingent that came out to Montclair State University – learned first-hand that an elite group of youth players can outplay adults with years of experience. That’s how NYCFC II beat amateur side FC Motown, 0-3, to advance to next month’s second round.

New York City II head coach Matt Pilkington learned just how his side can perform playing in a high-stakes game. After not qualifying for the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs the last two seasons, this was the team’s first-ever knockout match. His small group is given a huge opportunity to grow by playing in a national tournament.

“We had a young group out there and obviously playing in a knockout competition is a great experience for them and for some of them, obviously, first time in the US Open Cup and first time really playing in a game of this magnitude where there's something on the line,” said Pilkington. “Really proud of the group and how they stuck together and executed the game plan.”

On the other side, the man leading FC Motown on the sideline was also learning. Dilaver “Dilly” Duka isn’t new to soccer. The former midfielder played for multiple MLS teams such as the Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire. He even helped lead Motown to a national final as team captain in 2018. But standing in front of the bench instead of sitting on it is new.

Duka’s first competitive match as Motown’s head coach and as a coach overall showed a few things. His team was slower, unable to get consistent offense, and looked out of sorts. But for a team that’s still technically in the offseason, that isn’t surprising.

“You know, I'm still learning the players,” said Duka. “For an amateur side, I definitely like what we showed. Fitness is crucial, you know, especially when you're playing an elite team in a higher division in the pyramids and that's where we struggled in this game. It was fitness.”

It was easy to understand what Duka meant. Many players on the field did not look up to par.

Michael Da Fonte, formerly of the Colorado Rapids, started the game at center-mid and was constantly getting worked over by the visitors. The Baby Blues found ways to cut through the middle, allowing the defense to eventually get stretched to allow for shot attempts.

Plays like that one are exactly how NYCFC II captain Taylor Calheira got his team on the board in the ninth minute, setting the tone for the rest of the match.

Starting today, the learning continues. The NPSL season will kick off in May with Motown looking to win its sixth straight conference title. The coach who’s won league championships in Albania is now on the road to shaping a squad.

“We're gonna start regrouping, look through our pool of players, and try to be as competitive as we were in the past.”