FC Cincinnati was awarded another chance to face an MLS opponent in the US Open Cup at home in Nippert Stadium.
US Soccer announced late Thursday morning, that FC Cincinnati would host MLS club Chicago Fire, in the Round of 16. Both clubs advanced with 1-0 scorelines on Wednesday evening after FC Cincinnati upset “Hell is Real Derby” opponent Columbus Crew SC and Chicago defeat Saint Louis FC.
“Cincinnati and Chicago are two strong major league markets and this could be the start of a new regional soccer rivalry. We had an opportunity to meet the Fire in a friendly in Florida during the preseason and know they have a high-quality squad. The Fire will present a very tough challenge to our group but we look forward to hosting them at our home at Nippert Stadium in front of our tremendous fans who get to see another spirited soccer match,” said FCC President and General Manager Jeff Berding. “Chicago Fire have won the MLS Cup and have a strong history in Open Cup competition, lifting the Trophy four times. We are excited to welcome them and their fans, and hope Chicago fans will turn out in the Queen City as they do for the great regional rivalry between the Cubs and the Reds.”
FC Cincinnati will look to pack Nippert again on Wednesday, June 28th at 7:30 p.m. The orange & blue faithful showed up to the tune of 30,160 to see FC Cincinnati defeat in-state foe Columbus and the club will look for another strong turnout to help the team advance in the oldest soccer competition in American soccer.
Who Will We See?
This Chicago squad has changed significantly since FC Cincinnati played them in the 2017 preseason trip to IMG.
The name that comes to mind when people hear Chicago Fire is the World Cup Champion Bastian Schweinsteiger. The German midfielder has helped lead Chicago to 2nd place in the MLS Eastern Conference, though it leaves to be seen if he will travel to Cincinnati. Chicago’s prestigious designated player did not face Saint Louis FC midweek but could be forced into action in Cincinnati.
Two Chicago midfielders, Dax McCarthy and Matt Polster are on the preliminary roster to represent the United States in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. If both these players are selected, it is conceivable that Fire coach Veljko Paunovic could bring Schweinsteiger to the Queen City.
Chicago could also be without another midfielder as David Accam, a Ghanaian international, may be called-up to represent the Black Stars in a friendly vs. the United States that following Saturday, July 1st. Like FC Cincinnati, the Fire has a congested schedule in that time frame and could need to run out several youth players if the 4-time US Open Cup champs do rotate their squad.
Several FC Cincinnati players will have some extra motivation going into the Fire match. The Fire selected current FC Cincinnati captain Austin Berry in the first round (No. 9 overall) of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft. During the 2012 season, he started 28 games and scored three goals and was MLS Rookie of the Year Award.
FC Cincinnati midfielder Corben Bone was drafted in the first round (13th overall) of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft by Chicago Fire. Bone featured in 18 matched for the Fire before moving to the Philadelphia Union.
Several other FC Cincinnati players have ties to the Chicago Fire organization. Tyler Polak, Kenney Walker, Pat McMahon along with Austin Berry represented the Fire as members of the Chicago Fire Premier of the PDL. Fire Premier was the original reserve squad for Chicago that was designed to provide playing time for up and coming Fire prospects. There will without a doubt be some motivation to put in a great performance against their former club.
During the Thursday draw, US Soccer formed the final bracket for the 2017 competition. FC Cincinnati was put into the South Bracket with clubs Miami FC (NASL), Atlanta United FC (MLS) and Chicago Fire (MLS). Each team was then selected in a random draw as see 1,2,3 or 4. Seeds 1 and 2 would host the Round of 16 matches, while the winner of seed 1 & 3 would host the Quarterfinals. Miami FC was selected as the #1 seed with FC Cincinnati as the #2. Atlanta as the #3 seed was drawn to face Miami while Chicago was the last teams selected and will travel to Cincinnati. If Cincinnati would defeat Chicago they would travel to either Atlanta or Miami. Please see the graphic below for additional pairings.
Without a doubt, this will be another exciting matchup in Nippert Stadium. Tickets will go on sale to the General Public on Wednesday, June 21 at 1:00 p.m. through the FC Cincinnati website at fccincinnati.com/tickets or by calling (513) 977-KICK. Season ticket holders will receive the advantage of a special pre-sale opportunity to secure their seats beginning Friday, June 16th.