FC Cincinnati takes on familiar foe Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals

For years, the matchup between FC Cincinnati and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC meant three points and advancement in the USL standings. However, ever since FCC became a member of Major League Soccer, it’s meant so much more.

The Orange and Blue welcome the Riverhounds back to TQL Stadium for a pivotal step toward the U.S. Open Cup. The winner of Tuesday’s quarterfinal matchup will await their next opponent for the semifinal match in August.

Tuesday’s matchup brings back echoes from past runs in the Open Cup. FCC has faced Pittsburgh twice in this format, once as a USL squad and once as an MLS squad. FCC defeated Pittsburgh 3-1 at Highmark Stadium in the third round of the 2018 tournament, only to fall in the next round to Minnesota United.

Last year, FCC needed 30 minutes more to take care of Pittsburgh in the third round. After 90 minutes of scoreless soccer, the Orange and Blue rode a pair of Alvaro Barreal goals in extra time to defeat Pittsburgh 2-0 at TQL Stadium.

This year’s competition comes with a much higher stake between the clubs, but both have fought hard to get to this stage. After a close pair of 1-0 victories over Lou City FC and NYCFC at home, FCC needed penalty kicks to finally ice New York Red Bulls in Red Bull Arena. A Yuya Kubo goal in the first half was not enough, as New York knotted it late in the second half. Alec Kann forced a save in the PK stage, and the Orange and Blue nailed each of their attempts to advance.

FCC comes into this match red hot. The Orange and Blue have won all home matches this season and are unbeaten since their loss to St. Louis in April. It’s been much further back since Cincinnati has been left goalless — a 0-0 draw at Orlando in early March.

While the starting lineup could still be a mystery, head coach Pat Noonan opted to play a conservative lineup against Chicago Fire FC on Saturday, resting Brandon Vazquez, Dom Badji and Junior Moreno until the 60th minute. Noonan also opted to hold Nick Hagglund and Ian Murphy out of the lineup, starting Alvas Powell at center back. Sergio Santos is likely out for a few more weeks, while Stiven Jimenez is still away on international duty.


Pittsburgh is once again flourishing under head coach Bob Lilley, known for his steadfast attention to defense. Currently, the Riverhounds are second in the USL Championship Eastern Conference, but they are also second in the entire league in goals allowed (11 in 13 matches). Ever since the arrival of Lilley in 2018, Pittsburgh has not missed the playoffs and has been amongst the stingiest defenses in the league (0.92 goals per game).

The Riverhounds are currently riding a nine-match unbeaten streak over all competitions, edging Phoenix Rising 1-0 on Saturday. Center-back Arturo Ordonez scored in the 22nd minute, while midfielder Kenardo Forbes dished his fourth assist of the season.

The path to the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals has been a long time coming for Pittsburgh. After the dissolution of Rochester New York FC, the Riverhounds received a bye in the second round. Pittsburgh then buzzed through Maryland Bobcats FC 2-0 in the next stage. The defense has continued to be impressive, as Pittsburgh maintained two 1-0 clean sheets against New England Revolution and Columbus Crew in the Round of 32 and Round of 16.

It has been over 20 years since the Riverhounds made it this far in the tournament. As a member of the A-League in 2001, the Riverhounds edged Colorado Rapids in the second round, only to lose to the Chicago Fire in the quarterfinals.

While Pittsburgh has allowed no goals in this tournament, it is hard to predict if their offense will be at full strength for this matchup against FC Cincinnati. Forward Albert Dikwa leads the Riverhounds in scoring but had to leave the matchup against Columbus with an injury. While he has not been on the injury list for Pittsburgh, Dikwa has not played since that match. Forward Edward Kizza is also expected to miss the match, as he picked up a late red card against Columbus.

2023 United States Open Cup, Quarterfinals Match

FC Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
7 p.m. Wednesday, June 6th, TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, OH.
National Video Stream: CBS Sports Golazo Network.

To Top