by Datti Jinkiri
Mississippi Brilla FC pulled off one of the upsets of the US Open Cup Second Round by defeating the Indy Eleven 1-0 tonight. A crowd of around 900 Central Mississippians witnessed what could arguably be the biggest win in Brilla's history. Defender Koray Easterling scored the lone goal in the 81st minute when he side-footed an Oliver Brock free-kick into the back of the net.
The match was cagey for long periods, but the Indy Eleven had the larger share of the possession. The team looked calm and composed in their buildup. Towards the latter part of the first half, the USL side did begin to establish more possession in Brilla's defensive half. However, the home team's defense remained stout.
The halftime break seemed to give Brilla more life, and the team's confidence level began to increase. Winger Bastien Oberli looked to be the team's most dangerous player, as he fearlessly took on the Eleven's backline.
It ended up being a set piece that finally unlocked the Eleven's defense. Brock played a curling free kick towards the back-post, and Easterling was there to put it past goalkeeper Owain Williams.
The Eleven had brought on Jack Mcinerney and Zach Steinberger a few minutes before the goal, so they were both fairly fresh. Thus, they were able to apply pressure on the Brilla defense. However, the Mississippians defended solidly for the final minutes to clinch the victory.
The goal capped off a Man of the Match performance for Easterling, as he helped anchor the defense in addition to his moment of offensive inspiration.
Brilla goalkeepers Brendan Ledgeway and Jordan Bell combined for five saves in the shutout performance. Bell had the save of the match, as he made a spectacular fingertip save of a Justin Braun shot in the second half.
Braun was the Eleven's most dangerous player, and he led the team with three shots. However, one of his best chances went begging as he missed the target on a first half header.
Brilla is now in uncharted waters, as the club has never made it past the Second Round of the US Open Cup. They will travel to play USL side Nashville SC match on May 23rd.