The Open Cup’s youngest goalscorer and the importance of chances

So much in life comes down to being in the right place at the right time.

For 15-year-old Marcus Lee, who scored the opening goal and added an assist as California United Strikers FC won the second round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on Thursday April 7, there couldn’t have been no better time or better place to make his debut.

“I’m so very happy to finally get my name out there and make my parents proud,” said Lee, who is of Korean and Hmong descent.

The youngest player to score in the recorded history of the 109-year-old tournament (in its 107th edition), Lee’s fourth-minute goal opened the floodgates as Cal United dumped him in a 5-1 win, the club’s first in the US Open Cup.

“All Tools”

“We are very excited for Marcus and see an incredible young player in the making,” California United Strikers FC President Michael Collins said. “I believe he has all the tools and skills to reach the highest level.”

Lee played his first season at Trabuco Hills High School in California, but once his club Strikers FC joined MLS Next, he was banned from playing in outside competitions.

Spotted at Strikers FC, Lee was invited to join Cal United FC for training and a few weeks later signed a one-year amateur contract.

“I spoke with the coaches for a while and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do – to play with Cal United – and the right time came and I showed up,” Lee said. “They were all really nice and I just want to thank the coaches for giving me the opportunity. I’m enjoying it so far.

Lee has embraced the professional lifestyle. He trains every morning with the club while completing the remaining requirements to graduate from high school online.

“I think at first it was tough because I missed going to school with all my friends and stuff, but I like it now,” Lee said. “It gives me a lot of free time to continue playing and growing individually.”

Personal Encouragement Section

His goal was the talk of the town on the final day of the tournament’s second round, as was his personal supporters’ section. A group of his high school friends painted their shirts with the letters LEE and his jersey number (29). And they all went wild after Lee scored in the opening moments of the game and later registered an assist.

“They were told I was going to play in the game,” Lee said. “I didn’t know they wrote my name and stuff on their shirts. They did this behind my back to surprise me and I was quite happy to see it.

Unmarked at the far post, Lee put the finishing touches on a cross from Omar Nuno which had slipped into the box. It’s probably just the first of many goals for the lightning-fast 5-foot-6 offensive end.

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