Match Photos: FC Cincinnati 1 – 0 AFC Cleveland

Images courtesy of Joe Schmuck of FC Cincinnati’s 1-0 extra time victory over AFC Cleveland in the US Open Cup on Wednesday.


Relive FC Cincinnati’s most recent victory with 25 images of Wednesday’s US Open Cup victory against AFC Cleveland courtesy of JES Photography/Joe Schmuck. When browsing the gallery below for any given image, a high resolution version can be found by scrolling down and clicking “View Full Size.”

Also see: FC Cincinnati 1 – 0 AFC Cleveland: Talking Points from Ohio Open Cup Derby

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s home stand. A revenge match against Bethlehem Steel FC is up next on Saturday.


FC Cincinnati 1 – 0 AFC Cleveland: Talking Points from Ohio Open Cup Derby

It almost went to penalty kicks, but FC Cincinnati pulled out an extra time victory against a resilient AFC Cleveland in the US Open Cup.

Image Courtesy of JES Photography / Joe Schmuck
FC Cincinnati defeated AFC Cleveland in extra time by a score of 1-0 in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on Wednesday. Guess who scored? Djiby Fall provided the game-winner with a headed goal in the 117th minute to secure the victory. The match was watched by a healthy crowd for a Wednesday, made up of those that attended from 12,790 in paid ticket sales.

For play-by-play details of the match’s events, also check out the following article.  

FC Cincinnati Ekes Out US Open Cup Win in Ohio Derby

Talking Points

Ohio Derby – FC Cincinnati lined up against an Ohio rival in a competitive fixture for the first time in club history. Sure it wasn’t Columbus Crew SC, but the fact that the match was played against an in-state opponent gave it a little something extra for the fans. AFC Cleveland enhanced that with a brave defensive performance, bending but not breaking for so long, and nearly sending the contest to penalty kicks.

Rotation – Wednesday’s lineup featured no less than ten changes from the match last Saturday. Harrison Delbridge was the only starter in the Open Cup first eleven that started against OCB. It was an opportunity to see several players we haven’t seen enough of this year including Marco Dominguez, Derek Luke, Dallas Jaye, Pat McMahon, and Paul Nicholson. New amateur contract signee Garrett Halfhill also started the game at center back.

Heavily rotating the squad seemed like an absolute must in light of the opponent and FC Cincinnati’s recent struggles in the league. Having most of the first team rested and ready for Bethlehem Steel FC on Saturday is surely important. That being said, Corben Bone and Jimmy McLaughlin entered the fray in the second half and played all the way through to the 120th minute. It’s also of course important to get the squad players a chance to start and perform.

Based on the rotation, one also has to be careful when comparing the performance yesterday to the team’s recent performance in the league. The cast of characters was almost completely different. These players also don’t get as much opportunity to play together as the first team. Should they still have had enough to get past a fourth division team more easily? Yes, but they got the job done even though it was painstaking and nail-biting as it approached penalty kicks.

AFC Cleveland’s Performance – One has to tip their cap to AFC Cleveland in my opinion. They worked hard and were well-organized. They took a few opportunities to come forward, especially in the beginning of the second half, and were very nearly rewarded for it. Ryan Ware’s shot off the crossbar could have decided this match. The 15 save performance of AFC Cleveland keeper Alex Ivanov played a big role in their resistance. He was clearly their man of the match.

Finishing – 44 total shots, 17 on goal (38%), 1 goal. Alex Ivanov certainly had a great game but the finishing obviously needs to be better. FC Cincinnati created enough shots and got enough of them on target. At times, it had a similar feel to the most recent match against Bethlehem Steel FC. A lot of possession and shots, but many of them did not not truly threaten goal.

Djiby’s Return – Djiby’s six game USL suspension did not carry over to the US Open Cup making him eligible to play in this contest. Although Djiby played well and looked threatening on several occasions, he was also well marked throughout the match. FC Cincinnati spent much of their attack serving in balls to Djiby from wide areas. Djiby was usually surrounded by one or more AFC Cleveland defenders, jumping with him, and making it difficult for him to get solid contact on headers. In the end, he was the difference maker for FC Cincinnati again. There are three more games to serve on Djiby’s suspension. Danni König, and the rest of the attackers, have to step up and fill the void.


“Any time I get the chance to play in front of our fans is great. It was nice to get back to the pitch. It was a good victory and I feel great.”  

–Djiby Fall

Advancement – What really matters from this match is that FC Cincinnati came out with a victory. Would it have been better for the fans and the team’s confidence if the Orange and Blue had thumped AFC Cleveland? Of course. Is it going to help quell doubts about the team’s recent league performance and our ability to score without Djiby. No. It is advancement nonetheless and sets up a winner-take-all rivalry match with Louisville City in two week’s time. UPDATE: If FC Cincinnati beats LCFC they will HOST Columbus Crew SC.


Know Your Enemy: AFC Cleveland

The 104th U.S. Open Cup is underway with FC Cincinnti ready to host AFC Cleveland in the second round. But who exactly are the reigning NPSL champions??

Photo Credit: Brent Durken/6th City Photography

Matchup: FC Cincinnati (USL) vs. AFC Cleveland (NPSL)
2017 U.S. Open Cup, 2nd Round
When: May 17th (Wednesday), 7PM
Where: Nippert Stadium, University of Cincinnati

As the European leagues march towards their final games, the soccer seasons within the United States pyramid of leagues have started in full force. While the seasons for Division IV teams and lower have started in earnest, there is another prize that potential giant-killers dream about—the prestige of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the oldest knock-out soccer tournament in the United States.

With the first round of the 104th U.S. Open Cup already completed last week, the semi-professional and amateur leagues now turn their attention to the Division II squads from the USL and NASL. With FC Cincinnati prepared to enter the fray, the boys in Orange & Blue are faced with an opponent that feels both familiar and unknown—in-state rivals from the Northeast who will be traveling down I-71 to encounter FC Cincy in the second round.

No, this isn’t the “Crew” from Central Ohio, but the “Royals” from the shores of Lake Erie—AFC Cleveland, your 2016 national NPSL champs, are coming to Nippert.

AFC Cleveland comes into this second-round US Open Cup match with momentum behind them, having recently marched into Iowa and taken down the Des Moines Menace of the PDL, 3-1. While the first half was a quiet 45 minutes with no scoring, the Royals picked up the pace with the wind at their back in the second half, scoring on a penalty kick in the 78th minute to take an early lead.

While Des Moines managed to pick up an equalizer in the 85th minute, AFC Cleveland pulled away with a pair of late goals, including a high-corner goal off the far post in the 90th minute from Chris Cvecko for the game-winner. Considering that the Menace have had their own history of winning (four straight years of USOC opening-round wins), the Royals’ win at Valley Stadium is no small feat.

But that still leaves a question that echoes from the Bailey unanswered—AFC Cleveland, who are ya?

  • AFC Cleveland started in 2012 from the ashes of the USL’s Cleveland City Stars (2007-09) and the PDL’s Cleveland Internationals (2004-10). Since 2012, the team has steadily crept into prominence, going from a 4-7-1 record in 2012 to an 8-2-0 record in 2016.
  • The Royals blazed through the competition in 2016, giving up only 9 goals during the regular season and defeating the Sonoma County Sol 4-2 in the 2016 NPSL Championship. Veteran Vinny Bell, who has been with the team since its inception, scored twice to earn Man-of-the-Match honors.
  • While they do not play a year-long slate of games, AFC Cleveland has turned their home turf into a fortress—the Royals won all of their home games last season and have not lost at Stan Skoczen Stadium since 2014 (over 1,000 days). The Royals managed to keep that streak intact on Saturday’s home opener, despite allowing Dayton Dynamo to knot the final score at 3-3.
  • In their first year in the US Open Cup, AFC Cleveland made it to the second round in 2016, losing to St. Louis FC, 2-0.
  • The Royals, much like FC Cincinnati, are coming into the 2017 season with a new coach, Mike Sesar. Sesar has been active at many levels as both a player and a coach in the Cleveland area and has been coaching locally since 2005. AFC Cleveland brings back two of their veterans, striker Vinny Bell and defenseman Tom Beck, for a sixth year.  They have also beefed up their offense with former Carolina Railhawk forward Ben Truax and forward Reymar Klechko, who scored the late insurance goal vs. Des Moines.
  • The Royals’ main supporters’ group is the 6th City Syndicate, a group with a healthy obsession with Zod, the Cookie Monster, and a concept that can only be summarized as…“WAMPUS”. While the group and its supporters have been vague about what “WAMPUS” actually means, they will tell you that “…it’s more of a philosophy, a lifestyle…”, so it may be best to share a friendly beverage with a supporter to understand the WAMPUS way of life.
  • We’ve been told that the “AFC” in “AFC Cleveland” doesn’t stand for “Athletic Football Club” or “American Football Conference” (for you Bengals fans out there). It actually means “A Fans’ Club”, something the club describes as “a nod to the club’s desire to create an organization for soccer fans by soccer fans”.

Now that you know a little more about the team itself, be sure to watch FC Cincinnati start a new in-state rivalry with the Royals, as it hosts AFC Cleveland in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup.

While this isn’t the familiar scrum of a “Dirty River Derby” with Louisville City FC or a dream scenario of a “Hell Is Real” Cup against Columbus Crew SC, AFC Cleveland’s recent success and sound soccer play on the pitch could give the local squad a run for their money and perhaps a stake as the champions of Interstate 71.