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Nighte Pickering’s brace sends Memphis 901 FC to the Round of 32 in the U.S. Open Cup

Miami United’s cinderella run comes to an end in AutoZone Park, Memphis 901 FC winning 2-0.
By Taylor Thompson - April 17, 2024, 9:30 pm - 0 comments

Memphis 901 FC started their U.S. Open Cup journey on the right foot, beating Miami United 2-0. The result brings the first clean sheet of the season and first multi-goal game since the opener against Las Vegas.

Although playing against a team divisions below, Miami had proved to be a tough opponent with highlight-worthy goals at the ready. The game was close throughout with Memphis unable to overwhelm the underdogs.

“It’s going to be their World Cup Final when they come here,” Nighte Pickering said. “It’s always going to be a tough game, they are going to be playing with a different type of intensity and fire.”

The difference was the calm and collected Nighte Pickering, scoring a goal in the first half and another to put Miami away late.

“We were looking for a confidence boost,” head coach Stephen Glass said. “It’s a welcome win, our players worked ever so hard to gain it so we’re delighted.”

The side higher up in the U.S. soccer pyramid had more chances and possession to begin, as expected. Miami had to clear a ball off the line inside the first two minutes, Akeem Ward and Emerson Hyndman took long shots towards goal and Pickering tried to draw a penalty (to no avail).

The first opportunity for Miami came on the counter, Tyler Deric able to collect the ball in his first action of the match. Although the visitors had to absorb pressure for long periods, it was clear they had an attacking threat of their own.

Memphis avoided a set piece scare midway through the first half, Miami sending a ball with pace directly at Deric. The goalkeeper was unable to handle it cleanly which allowed Miami to score off the rebound. The flag for offside halted the celebrations quickly.

For the first time in a while, 901 FC showed composure. They did not allow the rare Miami chance to derail their own attacks and it paid off. A ball over the top found Pickering with no defender nearby, the 19-year-old striker finishing past the goalkeeper.

The poise dissipated quickly, at least on the defensive end. Deric was needed multiple times in a row — the most impressive a double-save against another daunting set piece. Miami were seeking an equalizer before the halftime whistle, eager to send multiple bodies into the final third. After an attacking spell, Memphis was able to regain possession and see through the half with a one-goal lead.

Memphis made one change between the break, Dylan Borczak subbed in for Luiz Fernando who was picked up an injury in the first half. He had an impact almost immediately. Borczak put a dangerous cross into the box from the right wing but neither Pickering or Noe Meza were able to capitalize on the other end.

Miami had the better chances afterward, two strikes straying just wide of the goal. However, the yellow cards for the club were starting to add up. They received three in 15 minutes with Leston Paul and Emerson Hyndman controlling the midfield.

The match lost most of its flow with several stoppages. Fouls prevented attacks before they got near the goal and Miami had two players down injured. Memphis making several subsitutions in the 76th minute didn’t quicken the pace. Lucas Turci, Bruno Lapa, Alvaro Quezada and Tulu in for Hyndman, Meza, Marlon Santos and Oscar Jimenez.

The attack of Miami had been shut down the entire half, Memphis just needed an insurance goal to breathe a bit easier. Another Borczak run would provide the dagger. He dribbled past a defender and found Pickering on a timely run towards goal.

Memphis had more possession (53%) and shot attempts (15 to 13) than Miami. 901 FC converted 66% of their shots on goal, an efficiency that has been needed. Once Miami started to chase the game, fouls became a problem – 22 total fouls, seven yellow cards. Tyler Deric potentially had his best performance of the season with five saves.

Next Game

Memphis will stay in AutoZone Park this weekend, taking on Monterey Bay on Saturday, April 20 at 7pm.


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