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USOC Round 1: FC Denver 4, Azteca FC 2

A Cesar Castillo hat-trick sends FC Denver to the next round.

Abbie Mood

FC Denver came out strong against Colorado Premier League foe Azteca FC 5280 on Wednesday night and ended up battling it out to a 4-2 victory. Denver got on the scoreboard in the 29th minute when Cesar Castillo put in his first goal of the night. The speedy forward got a breakaway, and even though Azteca keeper Marcos Madera made an incredible save, Castillo was able to get to the rebound and score. Alex Bernhardt also scored in the first half off a header to put Denver up 2-0 going into half-time.

While the ref managed the game fairly well in the first half, the second half started to get chippy. Castillo got another goal in the 54th minutes, and then Azteca ruined Denver’s potential clean sheet when Jesus Muñoz scored a few minutes later.

In the 75th minute, FC Denver player Kyle Heppenstall went up against an Azteca player for a header. Heppenstall was elbowed in the head and went down immediately. He didn’t move, but eventually sat up on his own. After a few minutes, an ambulance came on the field to take him away. FC Denver tweeted an update this morning:

By the time that was all figured out (and the Azteca player received a yellow card), it was announced that there would be 16 minutes of stoppage time. Roberto Aguilera scored Azteca’s second goal a few minutes in and then Castillo got his hat-trick in the very last minute of the game.

Check out a few pictures from the night, taken by Eric Lang:

FC Denver will take on the Colorado Springs Switchbacks next Wednesday, May 16th in the Springs. Kick-off is at 7:00 p.m. and you can get tickets here.

Read more about how FC Denver qualified for the U.S. Open Cup here.