NEWARK - After an uneven first half performance the Jersey Express went into the locker room for intermission, knowing they had to play more composed if it wanted to start the season with a victory.
Whatever was said during the break, provided the proper ease to the early jitters as a calmer, more cohesive version came out for the second half and dominated play. The end result was a 3-0 victory for the Jersey Express against New York Greek American SC in the first round of the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Lubetkin Field.
All three goals came in the second half for the Express, which earned its first ever U.S. Open Cup win. They will now host New York Red Bulls II in the second round on May 20.
"In the first half I think we were excited," said captain Chris Karcz. "First game, Open Cup, we were going a little too fast. I think we calmed down."
"We have a very technical team and all we had to do was put the ball on the ground and play," Express coach Anderson Da Silva said. "Obviously, it was the first game of the season and playing at home, the emotion kind of got in their way. But once we were able to have a few minutes with them in the locker room to calm the team down, we were able to play better."
After the intermission, Da Silva substituted midfielder Juan Correa into the match. It was a decision, which provided the kind of offensive spark his team needed.
After a couple of near-misses, Correa launched a beautiful cross to his right, which found a streaking Marko Drljic, who headed the ball into the net to give the Express the lead in the 65th minute.
"It was kind of like a counter attack. I just saw the space and I took the space," said Drljic. "It was a great cross and I saw that I was not going to be able to stop the ball, so I just jumped. I guess the ball just hit me in the head and went in. It was a great goal."
Correa would assist on the Express' second goal in the 88th minute when he successfully turned the corner to create space and send a cross to his left to a wide open Karcz in front of an open net.
"We needed someone there with more experience that would call the responsibility on them and he did it," Da Silva said. "He did the job that was asked of him to do. He was a very, very important piece of the puzzle for the second half."
Adin Kavara capped off the scoring with his goal in the 90th minute. Veteran keeper Matthew Turner posted a clean sheet in net. Turner made three saves in net, the biggest coming on a Kevin Correa free kick to preserve a 1-0 lead in the 75th minute.