Matchup: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (USL) vs. FC Cincinnati (USL)
2018 U.S. Open Cup, 3rd Round
When: May 23rd (Wednesday), 7 PM
Where: Highmark Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA
Last year, the Orange & Blue used the luck of the draw and the comforts of Nippert Stadium to roll to the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. This year, they will have to make their own luck.
One week removed from eliminating Detroit City FC, FC Cincinnati travels to Highmark Stadium to face Pittsburgh in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup. FCC needed extra time to fend off Le Rouge, beating Detroit 4-1 at Gettler Stadium. After giving up the first goal, FCC rode an Emery Welshman hat-trick and a Corben Bone goal to advance after 120 minutes.
The Riverhounds had to face their own opponent on the road, defeating the NPSL’s Erie Commodores, 2-1. Pittsburgh got all their goals in the first half—an early goal by Thomas Vancaeyezeele in the 5th minute and a penalty kick by Kevin Kerr in the 31st. Erie snatched back a goal right before halftime, but Pittsburgh controlled the pace for the rest of the game to move on.
While the first USL matchup between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh ended in a 2-2 draw earlier this year, that was at Nippert. Pittsburgh’s been practically untouchable at home. Although they haven’t passed FCC in the standings, the Riverhounds have yet to lose in the regular season. Pittsburgh is also one of two USL teams—Nashville being the other—who is yet to give up a goal at home. (Then again, only one of those opponents is currently in a playoff position.)
But how has Bob Lilley and his band performed in the U.S. Open Cup?
- While Pittsburgh has played in many more Open Cups (16) than Cincinnati (3), the furthest they have advanced was in 2001, when they defeated the Colorado Rapids before falling to the Chicago Fire in the quarterfinals. However, the team has never won more than two games in the U.S. Open Cup.
- On the other hand, Coach Lilley has historically managed well in this tournament. In his six years as a head coach for Rochester, his team won two or more games during each trip in the Open Cup. He guided the Rhinos to the fifth round in 2014, defeating D.C. United before losing to the New England Revolution.
- Since 2011, there have been only 15 matches that put two USL teams against each other. However, the growth of the league means that more USL teams will face off. Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati is one of five USL vs. USL matchups in the third round.
- Of those previous 15 matchups, the team with the higher point total has won 11 times and lost twice. The teams were tied in points in the other two. However, historically, there has not been a noticeable home-pitch advantage. Of these 15 matchups, the home team has won only 8 times.
- If the game goes to penalty kicks, FCC should feel confident if Evan Newton is in net. Newton has been the goalkeeper in three penalty-kick rounds in the USL playoffs and has won two of them (2015 vs. Colorado Springs, 2017 vs. Real Monarchs).
Can FC Cincinnati do what five other teams haven’t done this year and win at Highmark? Which team will get the shot at an MLS squad in the fourth round? Be sure to tune in to ussoccer.com for the live stream on Wednesday and follow Orange & Blue Press for coverage of the match.