FC Denver hosts Harpos’s FC in 2019 US Open Cup Rd 2 Qualifier

By: Eric Ridgeway Fulton

First, the Match Details:
2019 US Open Cup Round 2 Qualifier
FC Denver vs Harpo’s FC
Sunday October 21, 2018 | 1:30pm Kickoff
Aurora Sports Park Field #4 – 19300 E. Colfax Ave. Aurora, CO 80011
Free Entry

Now, the Match Story:
FC Denver’s Order of Operations – AKA: Premier Team Match Prioritization (Unscientific)
• Open Cup Matches
• Open Cup Qualification Matches
• League or Tournament Championship Matches
• Matches Vs Harpo’s FC
• Other Playoff Matches
• Friendly matches vs elite competition (USL, Collegiate D1)
• All other matches

As you can see, there is only one named opposition in our list. When we started this club, we modeled a fair amount of our club on the elite local club at that time, Colorado Sporting. And as we rose up the competitive ranks (and began to learn more about them), they became an obvious rival. After seeing us surpass them competitively, they had a precipitous fall from competitiveness (lower division club longevity is tough to come by), and they stopped being an elite competitive rival, and within a few seasons they were entirely gone from the Colorado soccer scene. Right around that time, an upstart team (at least to us) from Boulder named Harpo’s hit the scene. They were competitive right away when they joined our league (what is now the Colorado Premier League). Our squads have been the top 2-3 teams in the state of Colorado soccer over the past 5 years. For example, during the last three years, our teams are the only still-active lower division Colorado clubs to qualify for the US Open Cup.

Now, if we’re (FC Denver) being honest, the rivalry might not be shared equally by both sides as Harpo’s has an unblemished record against us over the course of remarkable 3-5 year time span. During that time, they’ve beat (80+%) or tied us (15-20%) in an estimated 15 consecutive matches. And in case you’ve been under a rock, we’re nobody’s punching bag. We probably have an 80% winning percentage against teams not named Harpo’s during this same time period. Basically, we seldom lose to anyone, let alone consecutive losses to a single team spanning years. So this begs the point… with the one-sided results of our matches… is it a rivalry? It’s in the same vein as current-MMA Champion Daniel Cormier said in an interview after an excruciating championship loss to Jon Jones (who he lost to in consecutive matches), “”I guess if he wins both fights there is no rivalry, so I don’t know.”

Results aside, it’s easy to acknowledge the rivalry between our sides — as outside of fellow (and currently inactive) Colorado-team Azteca FC, we are by in large the only team to consistently give Harpo’s a legitimate battle season in and season out. Many of our matches, at least from our viewpoint, could have gone either way. And except for a couple of regular season meetings, the games have always been one goal wins for Harpo’s showcasing how tight the contests have been. In addition, Harpo’s is the only team we’ve ever lost a committed starter, if albeit transient one, too (not to mention a couple of others we recognize on that sideline). Those interactions create feelings and storylines that far outlive wins and losses.

One chance we’ve never had is to play each other in the climax of elite lower-division soccer, the US Open Cup and/or US Open Cup qualifying. Neither team has an excuse in regards to roster availability as these weekends have been marked, by all involved, far in advance. Our two Club leadership’s have discussed how this match, with everything on the line, for two elite rivals playing on a Sunday Fall Denver afternoon will be the perfect opportunity to showcase Colorado soccer in front of the Colorado Soccer faithful.

No matter how you slice it, Harpo’s comes into this match as an unquestioned favorite based on their half-decade of success over FC Denver. How that affects the teams’ buildup, approach, confidence, and execution is the story that is waiting to be told. Will FC Denver exercise their Harpo’s demons on the highest stage yet, or will Harpo’s continue their run of success over FC Denver unimpeded? We wholeheartedly believe one way and they unquestionably believe another. Join us Sunday October 21st to find out.

Colorado Soccer doesn’t get better than this. #SupportLocalSoccer

#USOC Round 1 Win – Next Up: Harpos FC

Going into our Lamar Hunt Open Cup Qualifier Match Against Indios, we had a tough decisions about who was going to be in our starting 11. After thoughtful consideration, we wanted to make our mark and start off the match with a high press while also seeing a lot of the ball. Our starting 11 was: Moberg; Odulate, Miller, Heppenstall, Crouse; Escobar, Hogan, Salta; A. Bernhardt, Castillo, Magallanes.

We started off the game well, dominating possession as planned and getting four shots on target off to shake our nerves. We saw at least 65% of the ball but our chances were saved or put wide of the frame. The halftime whistle was blown and the score was still 0-0. We made our first substitution of the game when Lister came on for Magallanes in the 57th minute to boost our energy in their final third. We had one effort that was off the crossbar but still no goal. To keep our press going, Salta was subbed off in the 79th minute and R. Bernhardt came on. In the 82th minute, Marco Escobar, our shortest player on the pitch, won a header off of an Indios goal kick, which put A. Bernhardt through on goal and he slotted the ball home perfectly. 1-0 FC Denver!

Keeping our heads and feet after two yellow cards given to Indios, we stayed strong defensively and held our lines while running the clock down while in possession. We made one last substitution in the 86th minute when goal scorer A. Bernhardt came off for Hudson.

There were two minutes of extra time added due to Indios slide tackles. The whistle blew when the clock hit 92 minutes and we were successful against Indios for the second year in a row during Open Cup qualifying.

NEXT UP: Harpos FC in Qualifying Round 2 on October 21st
Today, our round 2 opponent was announced. We’ll play longtime rival Harpos FC in round 2 on Sunday October 21st at 1:30 PM local time at our Home Field Aurora Sports Park. Free Admission. This is going to be epic!

Let’s go Denver!