Hell is Real Derby:
Hey everyone, if you are an FC Cincinnati supporter and your friends know you are, I am sure that you have received text messages, phone calls and the like about how FC Cincinnati is able to play Crew SC on June 14th. Tickets go on sale to the general population on Tuesday and I wanted to share a little guide on how this is possible and how important it is for fans to get there and cheer on the Orange & Blue.
The US Open Cup:
The match between FCC and Crew SC is only possible due to only the multi-tier competition in professional/amateur soccer in the US, The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. 99 teams appear in the 2017 version with the amateur teams beginning the competition in round one. The winners from round one (amateur) go on to play the lower tier professional clubs (USL/NASL) in round two.
After round two, most amateur clubs have been knocked out and the remaining clubs are then drawn against each other. Most of the third round matched are pro club vs. pro club with the exception of a few amateur teams.
The winners of these matches will go on to be paired against a MLS side in round four. With FC Cincinnati winning vs. Louisville City this past week, they were matched up with Crew SC. FC Cincinnati won a coin flip for hosting rights and are hosting the game in Nippert. If FC Cincinnati would go onto defeat Crew SC, they would most likely be paired up another MLS squad in the round of 16.
The tournament continues to draw down until a champion is crowned. The US Open Cup champion receives an automatic bid to the CONCACAF Champions League and a large winner’s purse. The last non-MLS squad to win the tournament was the 1999 Rochester Rhinos. However, the Charleston Battery did make the USOC final in 2008.
FC Cincinnati (7th Place in the USL Eastern Conference) will host Columbus Crew SC (5th Place in the MLS Eastern Conference) in the fourth round of the US Open Cup. While each team resides in the top half of their conference in their league, the team we see from Columbus may be significantly different than the one that runs out every weekend.
In Crew SC’s first US Open Cup match in 2016 Coach Gregg Berhalter rolled out a predominately “B” squad vs. the Tampa Bay Rowdies in Columbus. Crew SC rolled to a 4-0 victory with a starting XI of Brad Stuver, Chad Barson, Hector Jiminez, Michael Parkhurst; Cristian Martinez, Emil Larsen, Marshall Hollingsworth, Rodrigo Savaria, Tony Tchani and Justin Meram. Corey Ashe, Ethan Finlay and Wil Trapp will all make appearances off the bench as well.
It really depends on how Crew SC lines up this year on our chances. USL & NASL squads won 2 of 13 matches against MLS opponents in the fourth round of 2016, so it is possible. If Berhalter runs out the likes of Hollingsworth, Martinez, Alex Crognale among others, we may have a shot. However, Crew SC significantly upgraded their roster depth in 2017 with quality players such as Adam Jahn, Niko Hansen, Waylon Francis and Kekuta Manneh looking for more playing time.
It sure seems that FC Cincinnati focusing on Crew SC after lining up a rotated side in a 1-0 loss in Rochester. Regardless, this is an opportunity to see some world-class players on the field at Nippert.
Why to be there:
This without a doubt is one of the most important matches in the young history of FC Cincinnati. Outside of a deep playoff run (which this is), the match vs. Crew SC is on the highest stage a USL squad can achieve. The chances of hosting this match are already slim, so this opportunity many not come for a while.
Regardless of the final result, this is a wonderful opportunity to invite new fans to an FC Cincinnati match. I challenge us supporters to buy tickets for friends or offer a free beer to anyone who would come with you. We need a huge crowd to not only show the State of Ohio that we are a premier soccer franchise, but also Major League Soccer.
MLS has openly said they would like to create new rivalries among the new expansion clubs. If Cincinnati can draw 20,000+ to this match, this would put an amazing feather in our cap. Some people say that we may draw fans in our area away from Columbus. That may be slightly true, but if we get more people overall excited for a potential MLS derby, I think it would make a great selling point to MLS.
The last point is, Home-Field Advantage. Columbus Crew SC supporters have nearly sold out their visiting team allotment. This is perhaps the 3rd or 4th time (LCFC, Crystal Palace) where we have had over 100+ supporters for the away team. We need to make sure both the Bailey and the Legion are rocking to put the Nordecke (NorOnTour) to shame.
Make sure to get your tickets and help the Orange & Blue vs. the Black & Gold!