FCC one game away from final with victory over Pittsburgh

Ahh Pittsburgh, a familiar sporting foe for the city of Cincinnati. Not as much of a rival in the world of professional soccer as it is in the MLB or NFL. But where FC Cincinnati vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds lacks bitter hatred, it makes up for in competitive U.S. Open Cup play.

The quarterfinal matchup started out with a chance apiece in the 5th minute. FCC’s Matt Miazga misplaced a header wide of the target. Pittsburgh’s Albert Dikwa also made a pacing run that required the recovering Ian Murphy to intervene.

In the 11th minute, Obinna Nwobodo made a late tackle into the back of the Riverhound’s star striker Dikwa that earned the midfielder a quick yellow card. The foul caused Dikwa to land awkwardly, which apparently created a right arm injury. The Riverhound’s head coach Bob Lilley was then forced to make his first substitution in the 14th minute.

The teams had a series of yellow cards starting with a bizarre rugby tackle by Pittsburgh’s Luke Biasi on FCC’s Luciano Acosta. Ian Murphy then picked up a yellow in the 29th minute and Dominique Badji receive one in the 35th minute.

The half closed with both teams’ best chances thus far. In the 38th minute, Brandon Vazquez sent a low strike in from the box which asked the goalkeeper, Jahmali Waite, to make his first save, with Pittsburgh’s being thanks to a poor clearance by Ian Murphy that allowed Riverhounds midfielder Danny Griffin a shot just wide of the near post.

In the second half, it was clear FCC wanted to be the aggressor as Badji made a great run into the box with a shot that was once again saved by Waite. But the match’s opening goal was not far behind as Vazquez got on a Badji layoff to slot the ball into the net. The goal came with a bit of controversy as Badji appeared to be well offsides when he touched the ball but, as in every U.S. Open Cup match, no VAR was there to save Pittsburgh.

In the 71st minute, the home FCC fans were gifted one of the most beautiful goals you will ever see in soccer. FCC was awarded a corner, with which Acosta served a floating ball to Alvaro Barreal near the top of the penalty box. Barreal elected to strike the ball in the air which found the top-left corner. Pat Noonan was asked if he ever saw a better goal with FCC.

“It was better than all other goals we’ve seen. Wonderful finish,” Noonan said. “You see the talent this kid has. It’s been on display in so many different ways, on both sides of the ball. But you can see we’ve now structured certain parts of our game around putting him in position to make plays. And tonight he scored an excellent goal with the right delivery.”

The scoring wasn’t over though, as in the second-half stoppage time, Santiago Arias connected on a header from a Barreal corner to smash it past the Riverhound defense. A minute later, Pittsburgh shattered the shutout as Tola Showunmi slotted a low shot in.

The mood in TQL Stadium wasn’t spoiled, as FC Cincinnati emerged victorious at home for the 12th time across all competitions in 2023. FCC found itself advancing to the U.S. Open Cup semi-finals for the first time since its legendary 2017 run. The semifinal foe will be determined after a winner is settled between Inter Miami CF and USL’s Birmingham Legion tonight at 8 p.m. EST on CBS’s Golazo Network on Paramount+. The Semifinal will be played in a venue to be determined on Thursday, June 8th but will kick off on August 23rd.

CIN: Alec Kann, Ian Murphy, Matt Miazga (Alvis Powell), Nick Hagglund (Yerson Mosquera), Ray Gaddis (Alvaro Barreal), Junior Moreno, Obinna Nwobodo, Luciano Acosta (C) (Arquimides Ordoñez), Dominique Badji (Yuya Kubo), Brandon Vazquez

Substitutes not used: Marco Angulo, Evan Louro

PIT: Jahmali Waite, Joseph Farrell, Nathan Dossantos, Arturo Ordonez, Baniel Rovira (Abdul Illai Osumanu), Robbie Mertz (Kenardo Forbes), Brunallergene Etou, Luke Biasi (Tony Lopez), Dionysius Harmon (Tola Showunmi), Albert Dikwa (Marc Ybarra)

Substitutes not used: Trevor Zwetsloot, Jonathan Gomes.

CIN- Obinna Nwobodo 11’
PIT- Luke Biasi 24’
CIN- Ian Murphy 29’
CIN- Dominique Badji 35’
CIN- Luciano Acosta 74’

Next Match:
MLS League Play Vancouver (A) June 10th, 10:30 p.m. (Apple TV+)

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