FC Cincinnati defeated MLS giant Columbus Crew SC by a 1-0 scoreline in a historic win at Nippert Stadium on Wednesday. A US Open Cup record crowd looked on as the second year Cincinnati side toppled their prestigious neighbor from the north. Senegalese striker Djiby Fall was the hero again for the Orange & Blue. His 64th minute headed goal gave Alan Koch’s side a slender advantage and ultimately the victory against their new rival.
Four Numbers That Mattered
3 – The number of defenders in FC Cincinnati’s back line. Alan Koch started a bold lineup in a 3-5-2 formation that departed from the setup FC Cincinnati has been featuring in USL league play. Paul Nicholson, Austin Berry, and Harrison Delbridge anchored a bend-but-don’t-break defense against a threatening Crew SC attack. Nicholson made only two USL starts for FC Cincinnati in 2017 prior to Wednesday’s match. Playing three at the back also allowed FC Cincinnati to start Djiby Fall and Danni König together up front for the first time.
17 – The number of chances created** by Columbus Crew SC over the 90-plus minutes played in this match. As one might expect, Crew SC were dominant for large portions of the contest. They had 19 total shots compared to FC Cincinnati’s five and maintained a 60%-40% possession advantage. They could not convert their opportunities though, and Djiby’s lone goal proved enough to settle the contest. It worth noting that 12 of crew SC shots (70%) were from outside the box.
3 (again) – The jersey number of left wing-back Tyler Polak who had a stand-out performance on Wednesday. Polak repeatedly repelled and intercepted Crew SC’s determined efforts to attack FC Cincinnati’s left side. Although not part of the three man back line, Polak and the other wing-backs played a key defensive role by dropping back to form a back five when Columbus had the ball. Polak, who recently won USL Team of the Week honors against Toronto FC II, carried his good league form into Wednesday’s Cup competition.
Polak made the following comments after the match:
“Coach mentioned that we needed to stay compact. We executed perfectly tonight as a full group. Coach also gave me a bit more free position so I had some additional confidence for tonight. Right now, I’m exhausted. But we’re going to get back to training tomorrow for Saturday’s match.”
30,160 – The attendance for this US Open Cup fourth round match. A big crowd was expected on Wednesday, but not a crowd as big as the one that showed to watch the first ever “Hell Is Real” / Ohio derby. The attendance pulverized the existing US Open Cup record for the fourth round, and became the highest US Open Cup attendance for any match that was not the final. The Seattle Sounders hold the top two record attendances in the US Open Cup, both in finals that they hosted and won .
FC Cincinnati advances to the fifth round and the final sixteen of the US Open Cup with the victory. Their opponent will be determined Thursday by a draw and subsequent coin toss to determine which team will host the match.
UPDATE: FC Cincinnati has drawn the Chicago Fire of MLS in the fifth round and will play them at Nippert Stadium on June 28th at 7:30pm.
Match Photos, credit Ryan Meyer
Bonus Photos, credit Joe Schmuck
Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of the US Open Cup and FC Cincinnati’s 2017 season.
**Chances Created from Opta
Assists plus key passes where a key pass is the final pass or pass-come-shot leading to the recipient of the ball having an attempt at goal without scoring.