Wednesday night, a penalty kick by Omar Cummings and an immediate second half goal by substitute Jimmy McLaughlin sealed a 2-1 victory over Indy Eleven NPSL. The second round match of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup drew 8,668 fans, drawing much needed attention to the tournament. Thursday at 11 am, US Soccer drew fourth round pairings placing the winner of FC Cincinnati vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies (third round) with a match at Columbus Crew S.C.
US Soccer released the matchup through Twitter which drew a lot of attention since FC Cincinnati supporters would be excited at the prospect of facing the in-state foe. With the excitement, it is hard not to overlook FCC’s next US Open Cup opponent Tampa Bay.
— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) May 19, 2016
Tampa has a decent 2-1-3 record placing them 6th out of 11th on the NASL table, which is the “second” tier of the American soccer pyramid. What is most important for the Rowdies is their staunch defense, led by Puerto Rican National Team member Jeremy Hall. In six matches Tampa Bay has allowed 5 goals with 3 clean sheets. This is made more impressive by the fact that they have given up 3 chances for opponents to score on penalty kicks. The Rowdies have an excellent possession percentage of 53% and nearly 90% passing accuracy in their own half. This could prove difficult for FCC’s high press to capitalize on. The Rowdies’ offense has started off slow scoring on average less than one goal in each of their regular season matchups.
FC Cincinnati has additional disadvantages to consider. The squad must travel to Tampa Bay for the match, which will require a midweek flight. Couple that with the June 1st Open Cup match sandwiched between matches against the Harrisburg City Islanders on May 28th and the Richmond Kickers on June 4th. On the bright side, FC Cincinnati plays at Nippert Stadium for both of those USL matches.
Looking ahead to FC Cincinnati’s potential fourth round matchup is cause for excitement. In order to make an I-71 related rivalry a reality, FC Cincinnati will need to get past Tampa Bay. If FCC advances they will play Columbus at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium for the fourth round match.
— Columbus Crew SC (@ColumbusCrewSC) May 19, 2016
Jesse Owens Memorial is traditionally the venue for Ohio State track competitions and holds 10,000 spectators. Mapfre Stadium, Crew SC’s MLS home stadium, holds 20,000+.
This tournament is an opportunity to compare the squad to teams throughout the American Soccer Pyramid. In FCC’s inaugural season, a strong push in the Open Cup could garner even more national attention for the club.