PORTLAND — A historic moment played out Tuesday night as the Portland Phoenix hosted the Brooklyn Italians in an opening-round match of the U.S. Open Cup, American soccer’s national championship tournament and one of the oldest sports competitions in the country.

Too bad the Phoenix didn’t have time to enjoy it.

Brooklyn scored on three set pieces – two in the opening seven minutes – forcing Portland to play from behind in what ended as a 3-2 loss in a driving rain at Deering High’s Memorial Field.

“Mistakes were the difference. We’ve only got ourselves to blame,” said Phoenix Coach Paul Baber.

“On the balance of the game we had so much possession, I wouldn’t say we had hundreds of chances, but I think if we’d have played five times we’d win 4 of 5. However we dug ourselves a hole by going down 2-0.”

It was the first time a Maine club participated in the Open Cup, a 99-year-old tournament featuring 64 professional and amateur clubs from the top four tiers of American soccer.

The Phoenix qualified by winning the fourth-tier USL Premier Development League Northeast Division in 2011.

Brooklyn, playing in the fourth-tier National Premier Soccer League, advanced to a second-round match May 22 with the Rochester Rhinos of the third-tier USL Professional Division. The winner of that match will play a top-tier Major League Soccer club.

“Being the first club from Maine to be involved in the Open Cup is a tremendous achievement,” Baber said. “We’re proud to be in it but very disappointed to be knocked out so early, especially when we believe we were the better team.

“All we can concentrate on now is that we have the same results in the regular season so that we put ourselves in this position next year and take it a step further at least.”

Nathaniel Simons headed in Oscar Castillo’s corner kick in the fifth minute for a 1-0 lead. Two minutes later, Christian Turizo’s free kick from 20 yards got by Phoenix keeper Ciaran Nugent (four saves).

Portland settled in from there, patiently working out passing sequences of six to nine passes at a time. While they dominated in midfield, the Phoenix had trouble finding their way to the Brooklyn box. The Italians seemed content to disrupt Portland’s attack in the midfield, drive the ball deep in Portland’s end, where the Phoenix rapidly began their build-up yet again.

Jumol Harewood pushed Brooklyn’s lead to 3-0 in the 79th minute, when his free kick from 25 yards slipped inside the left post.

But a minute later, left fullback Blaike Woodruff scored the first of his two goals to cut it to 3-1. Then, in the 90th minute, Woodruff’s long volley found the top right corner to beat Brooklyn keeper Nathan Stockie (four saves) to make it 3-2 going into four minutes of added time.