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It's all over now, Baby Blues

Jovan Mijatović fails to score and Samuel Owusu is shown a straight red card as NYCFC II crash out of the US Open Cup after losing to New Mexico United.

NYCFC II are out of the US Open Cup after advancing farther than any other Division III team | Courtesy

New York City FC II’s Cinderella run in the US Open Cup run ended tonight in the Round of 16 with a home loss to New Mexico United. A 0-3 thumping sends the Baby Blues back to MLS NEXT Pro, and New Mexico into the quarter-finals. New Mexico United were the third straight USL Championship opponent in this cup run for NYCFC II, and they proved to be too much for the Division III team. 


New York City II: 12 shots, 1 shots on target, 40% possession, 244 passes, 74% pass accuracy, 18 fouls, 3 saves

New Mexico United: 13 shots, 6 shots on target, 60% possession, 410 passes, 82% pass accuracy, 16 fouls, 1 save

• New Mexico United, Avionne Flanagan 50'
• New Mexico United, Talen Maples 65'
• New Mexico United, Anthony Herbert 86'

NYCFC II started two notable first-team players, Jovan Mijatović and Strahinja Tanasijević. For the 18-year-old Mijatovic, this was his second start in three days. He led the line for New York City FC against New York Red Bulls on Saturday, when he played 58 minutes in the derby victory. Mijatović also played the full 90 minutes for NYCFC II in a 1-0 win over Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in the Round of 3, but the highly touted striker failed to score in either game.

Former NYCFC defender Chris Gloster was on the visiting team sheet starting at left back for New Mexico. Gloster tallied minutes for both the First Team and Second Team during his stint in New York.

New York City FC II win $25,000 after US Open Cup win
The Baby Blues get the payout after becoming the only Division III team to advance to the Round of 16.

A sloppy first half

The game was delayed almost half an hour due to medical personnel arriving late. However, the game didn’t get started for another 45 minutes: The first half was a sloppy affair in which both teams attempted to control possession without much success. 

Both teams had great free-kick opportunities but failed to produce anything threatening. NYCFC II came closest to scoring through a couple of corners, but nothing came of those opportunities. 

At the break, New Mexico held the edge with 54% possession but failed to challenge Tomas Romero’s net on any of their three shots. On the flip side, the Baby Blues had eight shots but only forced a save from one of them. 

Red card sinks Baby Blues

The second half started hot with both teams having excellent opportunities within minutes of the restart. New Mexico’s Mukwelle Akale drove into the box, cut the ball back past a sliding Christopher Tiao, and looked poised to score if it wasn’t for Romero being so quick off his line. A minute later, JJ Jimenez latched onto a loose touch and played Mijatović through, whose strike dragged wide. A golden opportunity for Mijatović to put the home team out front.

In the 49th minute, the deadlock was broken as a New Mexico counterattack found Avionne Flanagan down the left flank who drove into the box and fired a beautiful strike past Romero, nestling into the top right corner. 1-0 to the visitors and a moment of regret for Mijatović’s missed chance a minute before.

The game quickly began slipping away from NYCFC II when in the 54th minute a frustrated Samuel Owusu lashed out at New Mexico’s Marco Micaletto, drawing a straight red card. 

Mistakes started compounding, as a seemingly routine header was played out of bounds for a free corner by Drew Baiera. New Mexico capitalized on that mistake and doubled their lead with Talen Maples scoring off of Micaletto’s cross to give the visitors a two-goal lead in the 65th minute.

The Baby Blues tried to mount pressure, however, going down two goals and one player left them with little to zero chance of getting back into the game. The match was put to rest in the 85th minute as an excellent save by Romero was deflected straight to Anthony Herbert’s head who easily tapped the ball in to give New Mexico their third goal of the game.

This defeat marks the end of an unexpected US Open Cup run which saw NYCFC II improbably defeat many more experienced and older teams. The Baby Blues will now focus on MLS NEXT Pro play where they currently sit in 9th place in the Eastern Conference. NYCFC II will now travel to Foxboro to play New England II on Sunday, May 26.

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