FC Wichita

Why FC Wichita's latest win in the US Open Cup is the biggest in its history

FC Wichita poses for a celebration picture in the locker room after defeating the Tulsa Roughnecks, 4-3, on Wednesday in the US Open Cup. It was the first time FC Wichita has beaten a professional team.
FC Wichita poses for a celebration picture in the locker room after defeating the Tulsa Roughnecks, 4-3, on Wednesday in the US Open Cup. It was the first time FC Wichita has beaten a professional team. Courtesy photo

If FC Wichita becomes a professional soccer team in the future, it will look back at Wednesday's dramatic 4-3 comeback in a US Open Cup victory over the Tulsa Roughnecks as the springboard that elevated the organization to the next level.

It was the first time FC Wichita has defeated a professional side in its four seasons, as the club became just the second team from the National Premier Soccer League to eliminate a pro team since the league formed in 2003.

FC Wichita advanced to the third round of US Open Cup play to play NTX Rayados in Dallas next Wednesday.

"The word has to be 'validating,' " FC Wichita manager Blake Shumaker said. "I told the guys before the game that it may not be for you today or tomorrow, but there's a kid, your son, my son, that's going to be playing at the top level of soccer in Wichita some day. And it's going to be because of the work we put in today."

It was an emotional night punctuated by the lasting image of Franck Tayou scoring the game-winning goal in stoppage time wearing the captain's armband of Shadow Sebele. Tayou was a college teammate at West Virginia with Sebele, FC Wichita's first team captain who died in an automobile accident in 2016.

On a night when FC Wichita played down a man for nearly 40 minutes in the second half, only to come back down a goal and win in regulation, it was an powerful sight.

"That had us all emotional," FC Wichita team captain Leo Sosa said. "You see Franck scoring two goals and the game-winner in the last minute, that has to be something special. I'm pretty sure Shadow is still up there looking out for us."

"Maybe we weren't down a man tonight at all," Shumaker added.

Making it even more special was the goal itself.

It began with an improbable pass from Sosa, who played a ball over the top from 40 yards out. The pass was meant to bend to the left and fall at the feet of a streaking Tayou in the box. Instead, the ball straightened out in the air and turned into a floater right in front of a charging goalkeeper.

Just before the keeper could snatch the ball, Tayou cut in front to steal the pass. With the keeper off his line but the ball leaking toward the end line right of the goal, Tayou over-ran it, then pivoted to get the ball on his left foot to chip it with plenty of bend to curl the ball inside the net after being nearly parallel to the goal.

"You go back and watch that goal and there's nowhere to put that thing," Shumaker said. "He had to put probably three, four feet of bend on that thing, falling away, no-look. We felt like it was all just meant to be."

Tayou scored two goals, while Wichita native Thomas Wells and Nelson Landaverde registered the other goals.

Shumaker was proud of the character displayed by his team, as it erased a deficit three times against a pro team to come back and win.

"We never felt like we were the underdog or the stepchild," Shumaker said. "You could see it in their players' and coaches' faces, they knew we weren't going to be a cake walk."

Now FC Wichita is one win away from playing a Major League Soccer team, likely Sporting KC, FC Dallas, or the Colorado Rapids.

"We want to take our guys to FOX soccer and play in a MLS venue," Shumaker said. "All of the guys who have been around here since the start know that we really, really want that opportunity for these guys."

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