Matchday: US Open Cup Semifinal – FC Cincinnati vs. New York Red Bulls (MLS)
Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH – Attendance: 33,250 (US Open Cup Semifinal Record)
There will be another moment like last night when we give up a 2-goal lead to draw or lose. I will be furious I’m sure, but today’s report won’t be one of those times. FC Cincinnati was 15 minutes away from reaching further heights in the US Open Cup, but a pair of New York’s Designated Players showed their quality in what would be the Orange & Blue’s final match in the 2017 version of the cup.
The night began with supporters packing in every bar in the Clifton & Corryville neighborhoods building up a big hype into the match. Two VIP’s, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and US Soccer President Sunil Gulati were both present at the match leading to additional speculation on Cincinnati chances of joining MLS.
33,250 fans, the second highest attendance ever for a US Open Up match, made themselves known at Nippert Stadium providing a magical and raucous atmosphere that was praised by New York Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch. “I’d like to congratulate this club, and this city, on their incredible run and performance tonight. It was a great run for good club, and I hope that people take notice”.
FC Cincinnati ran out a 5-3-2 formation that featured an amazing one-two punch of Andrew Wiedeman and Danni König up top. Both forwards provided quality outlets for opportunities to hit New York on the counter. The duo would team up on the first Cincinnati goal as Wiedeman would loft a ball into the box to Konig. The Dane would chest it down to an awaiting Corben Bone who slipped his shot past Meara for his first goal of the tournament.
The defense and midfield of FC Cincinnati would stand up to the test for the majority of the match. The midfield of Quinn, Walker, and Bone did not allow many passing lanes deep into the Cincinnati defense leading to New York settling for 14 of their 30 shots outside the box.
Nippert Stadium would erupt in a fever pitch in the 62nd minute as the hometown hero and FC Cincinnati Captain, Austin Berry, headed in a cross to put the home side up 2-0. Kenney Walker put the corner to the far side of the box to a streaking Berry. Berry then out jumped his mark and sent a laser past Meara. It looked as things would end great for FC Cincinnati.
In previous matches in the US Open Cup, Coach Alan Koch would use his substitutions to make key attacking changes to the match. Tuesday night our squad was in a different position with Cincinnati needing subs to make defensive stops or relieving the additional pressure. Koch replaced Konig with midfielder Jimmy McLaughlin in the 71st and Justin Hoyte would make way for new signing Kevin Schindler in the 73rd. New York Head Coach Jesse Marsch made his 2nd substitution a bit earlier replacing wing back Kemar Lawrence with midfielder Gonzalo Veron in the 59th. The Argentine would apply immense pressure in the midfield and made the first play among many to shift the momentum of the match.
A cross into Veron from 74th-minute sub, Derrick Etienne Jr., would soar high, but the clearance off Berry’s head inadvertently popped right back to Veron who struck it past Hildebrandt. That goal would end the 585′ minute scoreless streak in Open Cup play for FC Cincinnati. A new scoreless streak wouldn’t last long as New York would find the equalizer 2 minutes later. A Tyler Adams cross into the box found Bradley Wright-Phillips for the equalizer. The two-time MLS golden boot winner would find space in front of Sem de Wit who was caught flat footed on the opportunity.
New York would apply significant pressure the rest of the half to an exhausted home side including a near winner by Veron as he would put his 90th-minute effort off the cross bar. Both teams would end regulation all square at 2-2 with 2, 15-minute extra time periods following.
The Red Bulls continued on the front foot in the first half of extra time probing the defense for a go ahead goal. That moment would come in the 101st minute off a cross from defender Sal Zizzo to Wright-Phillips. The Englishman found space between Harrison Delbridge and de Wit to score on another header. Wright-Phillips goal in real-time may not have been stunning, but the forward was able to finish his chance to the back post off a ball played behind his original run.
FC Cincinnati almost sent the match into penalties as sub, Marco Dominguez, found himself one-on-one with Tyler Adams in the dying seconds. The midfielder had entered for right back Matt Bahner who picked up a knock at the end of regulation. Dominguez tried to send his shot in on the near post, but the boot of Adams just denied the equalizer.
The Nippert Stadium faithful left the game a little disappointed, but extremely proud of the accomplishment of the squad. Sadly this journey has ended, but we will look back fondly of how the club got here defeating, Cleveland, Louisville, Columbus, Chicago, and Miami to reach this memorable stage.
DisSUBpointing: Substitutes Jimmy McLaughlin, Kevin Schindler, and Marco Dominguez, were not able to provide the spark needed for FC Cincinnati to see out the win on Tuesday. While neither of the three was culpable on the winning goals, they were not able to provide the outlets needed to relieve the New York pressure. Fans will look back and question the move of replacing König over a tired Wiedeman, but we aren’t all privy to what happened in the reasoning. Hoyte & Bahner may have both been replaced due to injuries of some kind. Cincinnati could have really used Djiby to start the match Tuesday, but the Senegalese player was out due to yellow card accumulation. I would have to imagine that Wiedeman or König coming on for Djiby could have allowed an offensive outlet over the last 20 minutes. “What-if’s”.
Gassed: Let’s give credit to the squad. They put full effort into Tuesday night’s match. But at the end of the evening, they just ran out of gas. Tuesday’s game was their 30th match of the year and even professionals can only defend for so long. Of course, questions can be asked about subs or tactics, but at the end of the day, the squad played about as well as they could and the top end talent of New York showed through. I am immensely proud of our coaching staff and the squad.
Impressions: Hey Cincinnati, Don Garber and Sunil Gulati came to Nippert on a Tuesday night to see a US Open Cup match. That is special no matter what you say. I think it is just the beginning of even greater moments for the club. Name one person who didn’t tell you their ears were ringing when they got home and I will call them a liar. Between the Bailey, the Legion and the entire stadium, you impressed the soccer community in the US. We were loud, we packed the stadium and we supported to the end. Credit to a special group in the Knight’s of the Bailey. These individuals help organize chants, tifos, and supporter interaction. They brought it just as much as the players on the field. Good on these people and good on all of the supporters in Nippert.
BONUS: I wanted to compliment New York for their class on Tuesday night. Jesse Marsch’s side clapped to the Bailey and actually joined fans after the match for autographs and pictures. The Red Bulls had nothing but kind words for the Cincinnati squad and the fan base. Coach Marsch was quoted as saying, “Cincinnati would be a feather in the cap of MLS. Expects to be playing FCC again in the future.”
FC Cincinnati Starting XI (5-4-2): Hildebrandt (GK), (R-L) Bahner (89′), de Wit, Berry, Delbridge, Hoyte (73′); Quinn, Bone, Walker, Wiedeman, König (71′)
Subs: Jaye (GK), Nicholson, Dacres, Dominguez (89′), Halfhill, McLaughlin (71′), Schindler (73′)
New York Red Bulls FC Starting XI Meara (GK), Long, Perrinelle (45′), Murillo; Lawrence (59′), Adams; Felipe, Kljestan, Muyl, Davis (74′), Wright-Phillips
Subs: Robles (GK), Collin, Lade, Metzger, Etienne (74′), Veron (59), Zizzo (45′)
31′ – FC Cincinnati: Bone (Konig)
62′ – FC Cincinnati: Berry (Walker)
75′ – NY Red Bulls: Veron
78′ – NY Red Bulls: Wright-Phillips (Adams)
101′ – NY Red Bulls: Wright-Phillips (Zizzo)
(FRIENDLY/Reserves) Wednesday 8/16 at. N. Kentucky University (NCAA) – Time 7 p.m. – NKU Soccer Stadium, Highland Heights, KY – Will be shown on ESPN3
(LEAGUE) Saturday 8/19 – vs. New York Red Bulls II – 4:00 p.m. EST – MSU Soccer Park at Pittser Field, Montclair, NJ.