On The Radar: Second-Round U.S. Open Cup Matches To Watch

Which second-round games should you tune into this week for your U.S. Open Cup entertainment?

Image: Joe Craven

With the second-round matches of the U.S. Open Cup underway this week and the third-round matches on deck, Orange & Blue Press’s Connor Paquette and Geoff Tebbetts take a look at the higher-profile games you should be watching this week.

Las Vegas Lights FC (USLC) vs. Cal FC (UPSL)
Tuesday, May 7th, 10:30 PM

Welcome to the “WynalDerby”, ladies and gentlemen. (Okay, so that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.)

National Soccer Hall of Famer Eric Wynalda was one of the key figures that led amateur-squad Cal FC to immense success in 2012 as its head coach. After making it to the Open Cup tournament and knocking off Kitsap Pumas in the first round, Cal FC went on to slug the USL’s Wilmington Hammerheads, 4-0. They then outlasted Portland 1-0 in the next round, one of the biggest shockers by an amateur qualifier against an MLS squad to date. (Seattle would smother the dream run, 5-0, on their own path to the finals.)

Wynalda’s departure to Atlanta Silverbacks the next year derailed all that momentum, but Cal FC has qualified numerous times since then. Their return to the limelight was interrupted in qualification last year—literally—by the stadium’s lights going out before the game ended, but the replay win against Cal United brought them back to prominence. Their win over FC Mulhouse means they have their first advancement past the first round since that 2012 squad. Veteran midfielders from that 2012 team, Richard Menjivar and Danny Barrera, have rejoined the club, perhaps for one more run to USOC stardom.

It’s only fitting that the team has to go through Wynalda to get to the next round. Las Vegas managed to get to the third round last year, only to stumble against PDL squad FC Golden State. Now Las Vegas has hired Wynalda to retool its offense with ex-Cal FC forward Irvin Parra leading the squad in scoring. With so many common denominators between the teams, this matchup could be far from formulaic.

Orange County SC (USLC) vs. Orange County FC (NPSL)
Wednesday, May 15th, 10:30 PM

Place your bets! FC or SC—which pseudo-Americanized moniker for clubs of the beautiful game is truly the best? Despite calling the same pitch home in Irvine, California, Wednesday at sundown will be our first-ever chance to find out.

Both Orange County clubs were founded roughly one decade ago, but they have travelled much different paths leading to their own unique successes. Orange County FC has steadily risen from the sixth-tier SoCal Premier League in 2007 to the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) in 2017, earning Elite-Eight playoff finishes over the last two seasons. In 2018, the team accomplished an eyebrow-raising 3rd-place finish among the 94 teams.

Orange County SC, recently transitioned to the USL Championship, is helmed by 2018 MVP finalist and ex-FC Cincinnati midfielder Aodhan Quinn. Last season, they dominated their way to finish atop their conference table, tied for second overall in the league. Unfortunately, second place would become a theme as OCSC would eventually fall to Phoenix Rising FC in the Western Conference finals.

While both OC teams made it to the second round of the U.S. Open Cup last year, OCFC stumbled against USL-level Fresno, and OCSC were thumped at home by FC Golden State. Two sour endings to promising seasons. Two chips, one for either shoulder. One County to claim. A rivalry is born.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (USLC) vs. Dayton Dutch Lions (USL2)
Tuesday, May 14th, 7 PM

What year is it? No matter—you probably forgot that these two teams once were league competitors. (Don’t worry; we did too.)

Back in the day, when USL Championship was still known as USL Pro, Dayton and Pittsburgh were close rivals in the League’s National Division. Starting in 2011, Dayton specifically wasn’t much of a threat. They posted an abysmal two wins and 16 losses that year, but of the few teams they managed to overthrow, the elusive first win was against Pittsburgh. And yet surprisingly, it was Dayton who made it to the quarterfinals of the 2012 U.S. Open Cup, even going so far as to knock out the Columbus Crew along the way.

Since their last head-to-head meeting, Pittsburgh has reinvented their soccer identity; in 2018, they adopted a new crest, matched their colors to the city’s iconic yellow and black, and tagged an “SC” to the end of their name to cap it off. The hire of Bob Lilley has brought them back to a competitive level, but they’ve yet to make a significant impact in the Open Cup. The Riverhounds haven’t gotten past the 4th round since 2001, when they almost beat Chicago in the quarterfinals.

These two clubs have a brief but competitive history against one another. Amazingly, it’s Dayton who holds the head-to-head advantage, having a 4-2-2 record against the Riverhounds during their four-year USL Pro stint. Thus, if Pittsburgh wishes to continue their evolution and reach the pinnacle of lower division soccer, they must first smite their ancient rival.

Greenville Triumph SC (USL1) vs. Charleston Battery (USLC)
Wednesday, May 15th, 7 PM

There hasn’t been much competition in South Carolina over the past few decades. Charleston has enjoyed a healthy 25 years as the preeminent soccer club in The Palmetto State. The Battery have arguably been the strongest lower-tier team in the U.S. Open Cup during the MLS Era, twice making it as far as the semifinals and finishing as runners-up to D.C. United in 2008. The last time they faced another South Carolina team in the U.S. Open Cup was back in 2002 when they beat the Greenville Lions, 3-0.

Speaking of Greenville, when the Triumph joined USL League One this year, the team rolled high to hire former FC Cincinnati head coach John Harkes to the same position. It probably was the biggest splash in a league that has started a little like a ripple. But while Greenville itself is in the middle of the table after ten games, the Triumph’s big win against rival South Georgia last week set up an interesting matchup.

Picture it—Cincinnati, 2016. Harkes had just led upstart FC Cincinnati to the USL playoffs. In the team’s first ever playoff game, the Orange & Blue were dealt a devastating 2-1 loss to…the Charleston Battery, the same team Harkes faces this week.

Perhaps both sides wouldn’t consider this to be a revenge game, but this is the first USL Championship squad Harkes has faced since then. In addition, he’s brought in a few players from that 2016 FCC team (goalkeeper Dallas Jaye, defenders Evan Lee and Tyler Polak) who probably still remember that loss pretty well too.

OKC Energy FC (USLC) vs. NTX Rayados (North Texas PSA)
Tuesday, May 14th, 8:30 PM

There could arguably be bigger games this week between beefier USL squads, but none are as intriguing as this David and Goliath battle in which you don’t know who is who.

Surprisingly, the local qualifier teams have done well to get past the first round this year. Five of the eight qualifiers won their matchups last week, but the Rayados possibly had the hardest route to get there. Due to heavy rains, the Rayados found their flight cancelled, forcing the team to drive 320 miles to play the Little Rock Rangers. Despite an early lead, the Rayados were down 2-1 at halftime to the Rangers. After going down to 10 men from a late red card, the Rayados pulled off a miracle equalizer in stoppage time, then won the shootout to advance.

The miracle stoppage-time equalizer is exactly how these two teams played their game last year. Down 2-1 to the Energy, the Rayados managed a 90th-minute penalty kick to save their tournament, then pounded three extra-time goals to stun the USL squad 5-2. The second-round loss was OKC’s earliest exit ever in the tournament, so it’s pretty evident the Energy will want to exact revenge on their own turf this time.

Phoenix Rising (USLC) vs. New Mexico United (USLC)
Wednesday, May 15th, 9:30 PM

Phoenix has taken their name to heart and lit the lower division soccer world on fire in recent years. As a player-owner, Chelsea legend Didier Drogba showed the good people of Arizona an electrifying atmosphere that most sports can’t imagine reaching at this level. They continued their charge in atmosphere on the field, making the 2018 USL finals only to fall to the defending Champions, Louisville City FC. But although successful in the community and in their own league, the squad has yet to do serious damage in Open Cup play; they’ve only made it to the 4th round once, back in 2014 when they were Arizona United SC.

To spite Phoenix further, the hottest story in the Southwest now resides in New Mexico United. One of seven expansion teams in USL Championship, NMU have taken the league by storm, bringing in over 12,000 fans per game at Isotopes Field in Albuquerque. The newest team sporting yellow and black has come out swinging, dropping only one game on the season. They’re led by the high-octane forwards Kevaughn Frater and Santi Moar; each of whom are tied for the Western Conference lead in goals scored possess both Player-of-the-Month and Goal-of-the-Month honors to start the season.

How will their neighbors respond? For the most part, Phoenix has enjoyed isolation of marketplace in the Southwest, as their closest true rivals were in the distant lands of Texas and California. But with Phoenix’s slow start to the season and New Mexico rising to the East, a new threat has emerged. Yellow and Black versus Red and Black—the border war begins.


Third-round matchups will be played on or around May 29th, with fourth-round matchups (and FC Cincinnati’s game) announced the following Thursday, May 30th.

Images: FC Cincinnati 0 – 0 (1-3 PKs) Minnesota United FC

Images of FC Cincinnati’s loss to Minnesota United FC in the U.S. Open Cup on June 6th.

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Here are images of FC Cincinnati’s penalty kick loss to Minnesota United FC in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, June 6th. When browsing the gallery below, for any given image, a high-resolution version can be found by scrolling down and clicking “View Full Size.” Photographer credit is found on the watermark for each image. Images courtesy of Joe Schmuck, Joe Craven, and Ryan Meyer.

All images are copyright protected to safeguard the creative rights of our photographers. We’re very open to sharing our work with those who want to show support for FC Cincinnati. We simply request that you ask (via DM on Twitter or email) and give credit where it’s due. Thanks!

For more particulars of Wednesday’s Open Cup contest, turn your attention to the following article.

Minnesota 6.6_Match Recap
FC Cincinnati 0 – 0 (1-3 PKs) Minnesota United FC: Penalty Kick Heartbreak Ousts FCC from the Cup

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 season.

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FC Cincinnati 0 – 0 (1-3 PKs) Minnesota United FC: Penalty Kick Heartbreak Ousts FCC from the Cup

FC Cincinnati was eliminated from the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, falling to Minnesota United FC on penalty kicks.

Graphic: Connor Paquette / Image: Ryan Meyer
FC Cincinnati was eliminated from the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, falling to Minnesota United FC on penalty kicks at Nippert Stadium. The fourth round matchup was the first-ever meeting between the two teams. Minnesota United is playing their second year in MLS after rising from the NASL to U.S. Soccer’s top division. The match was played in front of a bustling crowd of 15,486 at Nippert Stadium, who created an energy that felt larger than their actual numbers.

Despite starting a rotated lineup that leveraged FC Cincinnati’s squad depth, the Orange & Blue played a convincing first half and created a handful of chances through Jimmy McLaughlin, Russell Cicerone, and Emery Welshman. A leg injury forced Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath to replace defender Eric Miller with Carter Manley in the 13th minute of play. An evenly played first half ended like all the others would, goalless.

Several fans thought this first half effort from Jimmy McLaughlin opened the scoring. However, his shot hit the side of the net rather than the back of it.

The second half unfolded similarly to the first. Both teams defended well and created a few half-chances to score but neither could make a breakthrough. Spencer Richey was called upon to make a key save in the 81st minute when he denied Minnesota forward Abu Danladi’s whistling shot with a strong right hand.

The match headed to extra time. Alan Koch introduced two attack-minded players, Tomi Ameobi and Nazmi Albadawi, in an attempt to break the deadlock. One of FC Cincinnati’s clearer chances came in the 108th minute when fullback Blake Smith made an overlapping run on the left. Jimmy Mclaughlin fed him the ball and he eluded his defender to break through on goal. Smith shot from a wide angle but his effort went agonizingly over the crossbar. After 120 minutes of play, neither team could produce a decisive moment, and the match went to penalty kicks.

Penalty kicks didn’t go as planned for the Orange & Blue. Neither Kenney Walker or Sem De Wit could convert the team’s first two spot kick opportunities, and Minnesota United jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the shootout. Mike Lahoud then scored and Minnesota’s fourth effort was saved by Spencer Richey to keep the contest going. But Nazmi Albadawi was denied by goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth on FCC’s fourth PK, and that was enough to seal the victory for the visitors.

Final Score: FC Cincinnati 0-0 (1-3 PKs) Minnesota United FC

The penalty kick loss eliminates FC Cincinnati from the 2018 U.S. Open Cup and they will now turn their attention to league play where they currently sit on top of the USL’s Eastern Conference. Minnesota United advances to the fifth round of the Open Cup where they will learn their opponent in a draw held on Thursday, June 7th at 11am Eastern.

The matched was characterized by organized, stubborn defensive play from both teams, with neither doing enough in the offensive third to alter the scoreline. FC Cincinnati made their mark last year from the penalty spot in a dramatic Open Cup victory against the Chicago Fire. They couldn’t replicate that success this year, however, and a fourth round exit is the result.

Head coach Alan Koch conveyed the following sentiments about his team’s performance on the night.

“Incredibly proud. Penalty shootouts are an absolute lottery. We went through that last year obviously. Anything can happen in them, a lot of it is momentum. There’s no point in putting your heads down. They should be very proud of the effort they put in tonight.”

Key Events

76′ – YELLOW CARD – MIN – Maximiano
80′ – YELLOW CARD – MIN – Collen Warner
115′ – YELLOW CARD – CIN – Blake Smith
120′ – YELLOW CARD – MIN – Brent Kallman

PENALTY KICKS
Christian Ramirez – MIN – good
Kenney Walker – CIN – miss
Collin Martin – MIN – good
Sem De Wit – CIN – saved
Brent Kallman – MIN – good
Michael Lahoud – CIN – good
Collen Warner – MIN – saved
Nazmi Albadawi – CIN – saved

Match Notes

FC Cincinnati outshot Minnesota United 15-10 over the course of 120 minutes, but could only manage two shots on target. Minnesota held a 66% possession advantage overall but was perhaps not as dominant as that possession number suggests.

FCC is now 1-2-1 all-time against MLS opposition in competitive matches. They beat Columbus Crew SC and drew the Chicago Fire (advancing in a PK shootout) in the 2017 U.S. Open Cup before falling to the New York Red Bulls in the semifinals.

Club captain Dekel Keinan returned to action for FC Cincinnati after missing Saturday’s league match due to yellow card accumulation. Assistant coach Yoann Damet also returned to the bench after serving a suspension for being ejected the match prior.

Starting XI

Welshman (98′ Ameobi)
McLaughlin – Bone (106′ Albadawi) – Cicerone (77′ Haber)
Lahoud – Walker
Smith – De Wit – Keinan – Bahner
Richey

Wednesday’s cup exit comes on the heels of the Major League Soccer announcement last Tuesday that FC Cincinnati will be joining as the 26th expansion team, starting play in 2019 at Nippert Stadium.

What’s Next?

The cup run is over but the fixture congestion is not. The Orange & Blue are back in action and back on the road this weekend. They head to the Tarheel State to face North Carolina FC at WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday. That game is the third in a stretch of five matches over 15 days. They’ll also face Bethlehem Steel FC and the Richmond Kickers next week; both matches at home.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 season.

Know Your Enemy: Minnesota United FC

FC Cincinnati gets the good fortune to host another MLS team in the U.S. Open Cup, so let’s learn a little about Minnesota United FC.

Matchup: FC Cincinnati (USL) vs. Minnesota United FC (MLS)
2018 U.S. Open Cup, 4th Round
When:Wednesday, June 6th, 7:30 PM
Where: Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH

There may not be many of these underdog stories left.

With FC Cincinnati’s spot in the MLS seemingly locked up for next year, each game in the U.S. Open Cup could be their last as a USL team. While fans salivated for a return match against either Chicago or Columbus, a home match against a different MLS squad will have to be the next step to the top.

Last month, FCC beat the system twice to get to the fourth round of the Open Cup. After a second-round nail-biter against Detroit City FC, the Orange & Blue finally beat a team helmed by Bob Lilley, riding three consecutive goals to edge the Riverhounds in Pittsburgh, 3-1. The next box to check is a fourth-round match against Minnesota United FC, a team that climbed a similar ladder to get to MLS.

Minnesota’s first year in MLS was expectedly subpar. The team depended on transfers of key names from their NASL team, six players making the move. While trades to get Ethan Finley and Kevin Molino from Columbus and Orlando stabilized the team, the defense was the worst in the league, giving up a season-record 70 goals. However, forward Christian Ramirez had a breakout MLS debut season, collecting 14 goals and helping the team avoid the cellar.

While the defense has done much better out of the gate in 2018, the team still lingers near the bottom of the Western Conference (9th out of 12). Minnesota’s inability to avoid the injury bug has plagued them. Goalkeeper injuries forced Minnesota to return to Bobby Shuttleworth, who played the entire season in goal last year. Both Molino and Finlay have also gone down with torn ACLs to miss the rest of the season, leaving the team threadbare in the middle. While the team can depend on veterans Miguel Ibarra and Ibson in the middle and Darwin Quintero up top with Ramirez, it will be interesting to see how the Minnesota lineup looks three days after a 4-1 road loss to Sporting Kansas City.

Here’s a few notes about the team from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

History from the North

  • While Minnesota’s lifespan as an MLS squad has been short, the team itself has been functioning since 2010, back when it was NSC Minnesota (the “NSC” standing for “National Sports Center”, the team’s home facility). The team captured the NASL Championship in its second year (hence the double-meaning for the star on its logo) before they changed their name to the “Minnesota Stars” and then “Minnesota United FC”.
  • Minnesota United FC rebranded their nickname as the “Loons” in 2013 to match the state bird. The badge is comprised of a loon with 11 feathers on its wing—one for each player on the pitch—taking flight over a background composed of two colors, one for Minneapolis and one for St. Paul.
  • Before Minnesota United, there were two Division-I teams from Minnesota—the Minnesota Kicks (1976-1981) and Minnesota Strikers (1984). In the heyday of the NASL in the 1970s, the Kicks were quite the powerhouse, winning four straight divisional titles and drawing over 30,000 per game, second only to the New York Cosmos. Three years after the Kicks disbanded, Ft. Lauderdale moved their team to Minnesota, only to become an indoor soccer club the next year.
  • After the demise of the Strikers, the Minnesota Thunder stepped in to fill the void. The team debuted in the 1994 USISL season and went undefeated until they lost in the final. The Thunder would play 16 years in Division II soccer, winning the USL A-League Championship in 1999. They advanced as far as the U.S. Open Cup Semifinals in 2005, beating Real Salt Lake, the Colorado Rapids, and the Kansas City Wizards along the way.

Corben Bone winds up to shoot against Matt Lampson in last year’s USOC match against the Chicago Fire. Lampson now wears Minnesota United colors. Image: JES Photography

Open Cup Connections

  • While the Thunder performed well in the Open Cup, Minnesota United FC has not. The Loons had their best run in 2012, upsetting Real Salt Lake 3-1 on the road in the third round before losing to San Jose in the fourth round. Their kryptonite has been MLS itself—Minnesota has lost to Sporting Kansas City three of the last four seasons, including a 4-0 loss on the road last year.
  • Only one member of the Loons has faced FC Cincinnati in the U.S. Open Cup, but his name probably sounds familiar. Goalkeeper Matt Lampson started for the Chicago Fire in last year’s thriller at Nippert, making seven saves in net, only to be out-dueled by Mitch Hildebrandt. Lampson’s availability is up in the air, as he recovers from a knee injury.
  • Coach Adrian Heath is hoping to bank on past successes in the Open Cup. He led Orlando City SC to the quarterfinals in 2013 and 2015, only to lose to Chicago both years.

Crossing the Mississippi

  • Wednesday will be the first time Cincinnati has played an MLS team from the Western Conference. However, it will not be the first competitive match FCC has played against any Western Conference team, as St. Louis FC was a member of the USL West back in 2016.
  • DID YOU KNOW? Wednesday will be the first time that a Cincinnati soccer club has played a Minnesota soccer club since 2003. From 1998 to 2003, the Minnesota Thunder and Cincinnati Riverhawks both played in the USL A-League. However, the contests were considerably one-sided. In 19 matchups between the two teams, the Riverhawks won against the Thunder only once. That one victory came in August of 1998 and was followed by 16 consecutive defeats to the Thunder.

Can FC Cincinnati avenge the ghosts of the Riverhawks’ past and pull off another upset against an MLS squad? Follow ussoccer.com for the live stream on Wednesday and read Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of Wednesday’s match and future progress in the U.S. Open Cup.

Pittsburgh Riverhounds 1 – 3 FC Cincinnati: Changed Eleven Puts Three Past Pitt

FC Cincinnati advanced to the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup with a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds with a heavily changed starting lineup.

Design: Connor Paquette / Image: Joe Craven

FC Cincinnati opened the scoring floodgates and drowned the Pittsburgh Riverhounds 3-1 at Highmark Stadium on Wednesday in the U.S. Open Cup. Jimmy McLaughlin hit the mark first for Orange & Blue in the 39th minute of play. After a some good build up play on the left, Lance Laing found Emery Welshman at the top of the box. The Toronto native played a first-time diagonal pass to put McLaughlin through on goal. “Penn Messi” drove it past the keeper low and to the right to put FCC up 1-0 at the break. Jimmy loves playing in Pennsylvania.

The Riverhounds came out in the second half hungry for an equalizer. They applied relentless pressure to Spencer Richey’s goal for the first 15 minutes of the half. The Hounds generated corner kicks, free kicks, and several quality chances, but FCC’s defense held. Then, in the 61st minute, Lance Laing hit them with a sucker punch. FC Cincinnati had earned a free kick in a central position, about 30 yards from goal. Laing struck a gorgeous driven dipper over Pittsburgh’s wall and into the bottom right corner. The goal came against the run of play and FCC was two goals to the good. A stunned Riverhounds side then conceded a third goal to a counter-attack just one minute later. That scoring move was finished by Daniel Haber.

In a matter of moments, a match that looked fairly even and likely to be tied, turned into a rout for FC Cincinnati. The Riverhounds still pushed and found a late consolation goal via Dennis Chin in the 88th minute, but it was too little, too late.

Final Score: Pittsburgh Riverhounds 1 – 3 FC Cincinnati

With the victory, Alan Koch’s side advances to the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup. They will face MLS opposition in the next round but the exact opponent and location will be determined by a draw held on Thursday, May 24th, at 11am. Tune into the stream on ussoccer.com or via Facebook Live (@OfficialOpenCup).

Alan Koch had the following to say about a potential fourth round matchup.

“I don’t care who we play. I was going to say I don’t care where we play; I’d rather play at home, of course. When we play at home, we get to play in front of all of our fans, which is awesome. . .It’s exciting to play in these games. Tonight was exciting and whoever we get to play at home or away, we’ll embrace the challenge.”

Key Events

39′ – GOAL – CIN – Jimmy McLaughlin (assist Emery Welshman)
61’ – GOAL – CIN- Lance Laing
62’ – GOAL – CIN- Daniel Haber
68′ – YELLOW CARD – CIN – Lance Laing
78′ – YELLOW CARD – PIT – Andrew Lubahn
88′ – GOAL – PIT – Dennis Chin

Match Notes

FC Cincinnati completely rotated their starting lineup, changing all eleven players relative to the squad that started in last Saturday’s 4-1 victory over North Carolina FC.

Starting XI
Welshman (Ameobi 86’)
Haber (Walker 75’) – McLaughlin – Cicerone
Lahoud – Seymore
Laing (Blake Smith 92+) – De Wit – Lasso – Bahner
Richey

FC Cincinnati is still undefeated all-time against the Riverhounds and improved to 4-0-3 in all competitions with this win.

FCC has scored 3 or more goals in six of their last seven games in all competitions.

Pittsburgh maintained a 54% to 46% possession advantage over the 90 minutes, and took 18 shots to FC Cincinnati’s 10. The Orange & Blue had an impressive 7 of 10 shots on target on Wednesday.

What’s Next?

FC Cincinnati turns their focus back to league play as the second edition of the Dirty River Derby comes to Nippert this Saturday. Louisville City is in second place and hot on FC Cincinnati’s heels. They sit just one point behind the Orange & Blue in the Eastern Conference standings. The last time the two sides faced each other, Louisville City managed to steal the spotlight and spoil FC Cincinnati’s home opener, defeating them 1-0. If FC Cincinnati wishes to remain atop the standings, they will have to avoid a second home defeat to their biggest rivals.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 season.

Know Your Enemy (Again): Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

After dispatching Detroit City, FC Cincinnati faces a familiar USL foe in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup.

Image: Joe Craven

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?

Fast Facts

  • 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.

FC Cincinnati 4 – 1 Detroit City FC: The Quest for Cup Glory Begins

It took extra time, but the floodgates eventually opened and FC Cincinnati earned passage to the third round of the US Open Cup by defeating Detroit City FC on Wednesday.

Detroit 5.16_Match Recap
Graphic: Connor Paquette / Image: Joe Craven

FC Cincinnati launched its 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup campaign with a decisive 4-1 victory over Detroit City FC in front of a sold-out crowd at Gettler Stadium on Wednesday. It took time but the floodgates eventually opened. The much anticipated second round match started with FC Cincinnati taking control early. The Orange & Blue had most of the possession and Detroit City FC team seemed content to sit back and absorb pressure.

Although that tactic produced chances for FC Cincinnati, none of them resulted in an opening goal. The situation changed in the 31st minute when DCFC collected an errant pass, countered and scored a goal through Shawn Lawson to put the visitors ahead.

That goal would be answered by FC Cincinnati less than four minutes later as Forrest Lasso headed a cross back toward goal for Emery Welshman. The Canadian headed into the net bringing the game back to level. The pace significantly picked up after the second goal but the 1-1 score carried into the halftime break.

The second half would see the starting eleven for both squads come out pushing the attack. Alan Koch made three substitutions after the break but no one could break though and the contest pushed into overtime.

Corben Bone scored the eventual winner just minutes into extra time by neatly finishing a perfect ball cut back from end line by Emery Welshman. The floodgates then opened and Welshman added two more extra time goals to claim a hat trick.

Bone’s game winning goal in the third minute of extra time.

Final Score: FC Cincinnati 4 – 1 Detroit City FC

Key Events

28′ – YELLOW CARD – DCFC – Stephen Carroll
31′ – GOAL – DCFC – Shawn Lawson (assist Danny Deakin)
35′ – GOAL – CIN – Emery Welshman (assist Forrest Lasso)
83′ – YELLOW CARD – CIN – Russell Cicerone
89′ – YELLOW CARD – DCFC – Wilfred Williams
94′ – GOAL – CIN – Corben Bone (assist Emery Welshman)
99′ – GOAL – CIN – Emery Welshman (assist Russell Cicerone)
110′ – GOAL – CIN – Emery Welshman (assist Jimmy McLaughlin)

Match Notes

With tonight’s result FC Cincinnati earned its third straight second round win in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Emery Welshman earned the club’s first hat trick in any Open Cup match competition. He also assisted on Bone’s game winning goal.

The starting eleven included nine changes from last Saturday’s match against the Charlotte Independence. Paddy Barrett started at center back and wore the armband for the Orange & Blue. Nazmi Albadawi and Evan Newton both returned from injury and took places in the starting lineup.

Starting XI

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Mclaughlin – Albadawi (Bone 67′) – Haber (Cicerone 60′)
Seymore – Lahoud
Laing (Smith 85′) – Lasso – Barrett (C) – Bahner
Newton

What’s Next?

It’s on to round three in pursuit of the Cup. FC Cincinnati travels north to face Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC next Wednesday, May 23rd, at Highmark Stadium. The Riverhounds advanced 2-1 versus Erie Commodores FC at Gannon University Field in Pennsylvania on Wednesday.

But first FC Cincinnati returns to USL league play this Saturday at Nippert Stadium against USL newcomers North Carolina FC. The Orange and Blue will strive for three points at home to help solidify their spot at the top of the Eastern Conference table.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 season.

Detroit 5.16_Match Recap

Know Your Enemy: Detroit City FC

FC Cincinnati starts its 2018 U.S. Open Cup run against one of the most counter-culture soccer teams in the country, Detroit City FC.

imageRBMatchup: FC Cincinnati (USL) vs. Detroit City FC (NPSL)
2018 U.S. Open Cup, 2nd Round
When: May 16th (Wednesday), 7:30 PM
Where: Gettler Stadium, University of Cincinnati

Over the short span of two years, FC Cincinnati has matured quickly in the U.S. Open Cup. With the team’s unfathomable trek into the 2017 tournament behind them, it tends to get forgotten that they almost got bounced by AFC Cleveland in the second round. The defending NPSL champions held FCC’s feet to the fire and lasted well into extra time before Djiby’s header in the 115th minute sealed the 1-0 win.

While 2016 was an initiation to the U.S. Open Cup, 2017 was an exploration within it. It’s now 2018, and FC Cincinnati’s hunt for gold also now makes them the hunted. The team going after them just so happens to be one of the most colorful, anti-establishment teams out there, Detroit City FC.

FC Cincinnati’s quest to enter MLS has clashed with the Motor City’s own expansion committee. However, if you were to ask a member of the Northern Guard Supporters—DCFC’s primary supporters group—about the possibility of joining MLS, they would likely turn the offer down. The general sentiment is that the team doesn’t want to be affiliated with any attempt to join.

How Detroit City got here

DCFC’s quest to this point went through a familiar route—the Michigan Bucks. Hosting the Bucks at their home grounds, Detroit City got on the board first in the 57th minute. A stray header pinged off the crossbar, only for forward Shawn Lawson to smash the rebound in from up close. However, the Bucks equalized off an Alfonso Pineirho penalty kick in the 84th minute.

Despite a Greg Janicki red card in the 95th minute, Detroit City got through extra time with only 10 men. Although they were down early in sudden death, goalkeeper Nate Steinwascher made a key save late in the session, and forward Roddy Green scored the decider to win 6-5 in penalty kicks. DCFC now makes their way to the U.S. Open Cup second round for the second time ever.

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Image: Boys in Rouge, Robert Sherman

What we should know about DCFC

While DCFC is more known for their renegade approach to soccer, there is still a lot to learn. Detroit City FC, who are ya?!

  • Detroit City FC started in 2010 without any affiliation or solid ties to previous teams from Detroit. It took a spark from one future owner forming a recreational league, the Detroit City Futbol League (DCFL). From the positive response and growth within the league, the idea for a team blossomed. Five of the players from two rival teams put DCFC together as an amateur team in the NPSL in 2012, only for the attendance in the first year to balloon to over almost 1,300 per game.
  • DCFC is helmed by Ben “Caesar” Pirrman. The head coach got the nickname when he accidentally said “Caesar” instead of “season” during an interview. In Pirrman’s five years, DCFC has won a division title, made the NPSL playoffs three times, and qualified for the U.S. Open Cup four times.
  • In 2017, DCFC went 9-2-3 during the regular season, reaching the National Semifinals before losing to Midland-Odessa in penalty kicks. The record crowd of 7,533 was no surprise. Detroit City led the NPSL in attendance last year at almost 6,000 per game at Keyworth Stadium.
  • Detroit City has faced a USL team once before in U.S. Open Cup play, losing to Louisville City FC 3-1 in penalty kicks in 2016. In fact, of the five games Detroit City has played in the U.S. Open Cup, four finished in penalty kicks (two wins, two losses).
  • DCFC has managed to maintain quite a bit of their roster over the offseason. Starting midfielder Cyrus Saydee is the last player left from their debut 2012 season, and DCFC’s goal scorer from last week, Shawn Lawson, led the team last year with nine goals. The team has also returned captain David Edwardson, vice-captain Seb Harris, and defenders Stephen Carroll and Omar Sinclair. They recently signed former USMNT and Colorado Rapids player Joshua Gatt as a winger. Overall, DCFC has 12 players who were on the team last year, a decent turnover for the squad.
  • The last time Detroit City FC played in Cincinnati was in 2015, back when the Cincinnati Saints played in the NPSL. On June 20th, the final match of their “rivalry” started with an early Saints goal and a second-half red card to Detroit City, only for Le Rouge to push three late goals in for a 3-1 win. The celebration by the Northern Guard set off so many smoke bombs that the fire department had to pay a visit.
  • While the Northern Guard has shown themselves to have a rough exterior both in person and online, they and the team itself have done much for the community in Detroit. Since 2013, the team has focused on a local charity each year and have created special kits for each organization to be worn at a home game. The Northern Guard has also set up “Let’s Make Roots”, a ticket distribution initiative for kids and families who are not able to afford to come to matches. (This is similar to the “Sports Games for Kids” initiative in Cincinnati.)

The difference in vision and philosophy between FCC and Detroit City should be the main fuel for this opening game. If FC Cincinnati’s drive in the past was to show MLS teams like Columbus and Chicago that they could compete, that same drive will be coming from Le Rouge and the Northern Guard in a match that has the potential to become an instant classic.

(Our thanks to Andrew Goode from Boys in Rouge for providing feedback and information for this article.)

Cinderella Starts Here: 5 First-Round U.S. Open Cup Matches To Watch

The 105th U.S. Open Cup is here! What matchups should you be watching before FC Cincinnati joins in the next round?

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Image: JES Photography

Next week, FC Cincinnati starts their third year in the 105th United States Open Cup, entering the national knock-out competition in the second round. The story last year may have ended in heartbreak in the semifinals, but the national attention made the final prize much more desirable. The tournament itself has been gaining steam as streaming services allow more games to be viewed by a national audience.

While FCC awaits their first opponent, the first round is starting in earnest. Amateur teams from Division IV and lower take aim at each other before matching up against the USL in the second and third rounds. The MLS teams join in the fourth round, and the bracket is trimmed down until a singular team is crowned in September.

The turnover in the amateur ranks is constant and unpredictable, but there are still exciting teams and games to witness. Here is a list of five games that could set the dominoes for this year’s next shocking upsets.

(Games can be accessed at ussoccer.com, but there is no guarantee that all of these games will be streamed online.)

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5. FC Tucson (PDL) vs. La Máquina FC (UPSL)
Wednesday, May 9th, 9:30PM ET

History:
FC Tucson – 5th appearance.
La Máquina – 3rd appearance.

La Máquina FC is one of the more notable names from the United Premier Soccer Leagues, a fifth-division league that covers 19 states and 90 teams. “The Machine” is one of three UPSL teams that made a dent in the 2016 U.S. Open Cup. La Máquina defeated their rival, L.A. Wolves, in the third round, only to next be eliminated by L.A. Galaxy in added time. While they have a UPSL title to their name, La Máquina also are known for controversy—the team was suspended for six games in 2015 after a player-fan altercation.

Meanwhile, FC Tucson has steadily made ripples in the PDL’s Southwest Division, having won four straight divisional titles. While they have not won a PDL title yet, the team managed to surprise teams in the 2013 U.S. Open Cup, upsetting the then-NASL San Antonio Scorpions in the second round. Their local dominance in the PDL and partnership with the USL’s Phoenix Rising may have been a cornerstone for their next step—FC Tucson was named the second “founding member” for the upcoming USL Division-III experiment.

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4. Lansdowne Bhoys (CSL) vs. Brooklyn Italians (NPSL)
Wednesday, May 9th, 8PM ET

History:
Lansdowne – 2nd appearance.
Brooklyn – 11th appearance.

The cancellation of the 2018 NASL season threw an early wrench in the works, forcing some teams to retreat to the NPSL. While Miami FC and Jacksonville Armada got past their play-in competition, the Brooklyn Italians managed to slip past the New York Cosmos 3-2 to set up an intriguing match between two different types of teams tied to history.

The Italians’ current players were likely not even born the year when they were the cream of U.S. soccer. Brooklyn is one of America’s oldest teams, founded back in 1949 as a social club for Italian immigrants. While the team has changed its name and affiliations many times over the years, success has accompanied them. They have won the U.S. Open Cup twice (1979, 1991) and got as far as the second round of the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup the following years. Since their return to the NPSL in 2010, the team has been in the USOC six times, reaching the third round in 2014 before losing to…the New York Cosmos.

While Lansdowne’s history is not rooted as deeply, the team is still rooted in community. Based in Yonkers, Lansdowne has been the recent pride of New York amateur clubs, having won the local Cosmopolitan Soccer League four years in a row and the National Amateur Cup in 2017. The team forged bonds in an affiliation with Celtic FC in 2016, the same year they shocked the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the U.S. Open Cup second round.

With both teams anxious to face North Carolina FC in the next round, this rumble in New York City will be fun to watch.

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3. Portland Timbers U-23 (PDL) vs. Kitsap SC (NPSL)
Tuesday, May 8th, 10PM ET

History:
Timbers U-23 – 5th appearance.
Kitsap SC – 7th appearance.

The setup for the U.S. Open Cup became a little more complicated in 2015. Teams that were “majority owned by a higher-level Outdoor Professional League Team” could not be allowed to play in the tournament. However, their U-23 teams could participate, but could not face their parent club until the finals.

This has opened the door to a little-known rivalry being resumed in 2018. The Portland Timbers U-23 squad and Seattle-based Kitsap Pumas both used to be members of the PDL’s Northwest Division. Since the inception of both in 2009, Kitsap has held a distinct advantage with four divisional titles and a national title in 2011, while Timbers U-23 won their division and a national title in 2010.

Kitsap’s advantage has even held serve in the U.S. Open Cup, having appeared six times to Timbers U-23’s four. While Portland’s team hasn’t gotten past the second round, Kitsap got as far as the fourth round in 2016 by upsetting Sacramento Republic on the road. The teams have not played each other since Kitsap moved to the NPSL in 2017, so this game could set off some intense regional fireworks.

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2. Reading United AC (PDL) vs. Christos FC (USASA)
Wednesday, May 9th, 7PM ET

History:
Reading – 12th appearance.
Christos – 2nd appearance.

FC Cincinnati may have been the Cinderella of the 2017 U.S. Open Cup, but that’s not to say they enjoyed the entire spotlight. The glass slipper fit Maryland-based Christos FC just as well.

The amateur unit sponsored by a liquor store may not practice together regularly, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t succeeded. The team captured multiple local titles in 2016, including the USASA National Amateur Cup. CFC became the early story of the 2017 U.S. Open Cup tournament as the last amateur team standing, beating two Division-IV teams and Richmond Kickers (USL) before succumbing to D.C. United late in the fourth round.

Christos FC’s run may not be so easy this time around. Reading United AC has been to this party before. Originally the Reading Rage in the USL D-3 Pro League, Reading joined the Philadelphia Union as their U-23 affiliate in 2009 and has made the PDL playoffs seven times since then. While 2018 will be the tenth-straight year that Reading United has qualified for the Cup, they don’t just show up as a consolation prize. Reading has won their first-round USOC game the past six years and have twice reached the third round.

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1. Detroit City FC (NPSL) vs. Michigan Bucks (PDL)
Wednesday, May 9th, 7:30PM ET

History:
Detroit City – 4th appearance.
Michigan – 15th appearance.

The U.S. Open Cup tends to match up teams that are geographically near each other. While their stadiums are only 25 miles apart, you wouldn’t find two teams more diametrically opposed to each other.

The Michigan Bucks are inarguably one of the PDL’s most prestigious teams during the league’s 23-year history. Since their debut in 1996, the Bucks have won 14 division titles, had the best nationwide record four times, and won the PDL Championship three times (2006, 2014, 2016). Because of their lower-level success, they have appeared in 14 U.S. Open Cup tournaments, the most of any Division-IV team. The Bucks also made it to the third round six times, with their furthest run in 2012, when they made it to the fourth round. The Bucks are arguably the closest thing to an amateur-soccer dynasty in the United States.

If the Bucks are the shiny side of a quarter, Detroit City FC has to be the unpolished side of that same coin. The team may not be as glamorous, but they are worth the same exact value to the U.S. soccer landscape. Started in 2012, DCFC has been one of the most eclectic teams in the NPSL, their power coming from tight bonds between ownership, fans, players, and the community. Their attendance has steadily risen to almost 6,000 per game, and their supporter group’s refusal to conform has made them both grass-root darlings and soccer-pyramid rebels. The team was penalty kicks away from defeating Louisville City in the 2016 Open Cup second round and got as far as the NPSL national semifinals last year.

So far, Michigan and Detroit have faced each other twice in Open Cup play. In 2015, Michigan rode three first-half strikes to defeat DCFC in the first round. However, DCFC got an ounce of vengeance, winning in penalties in the 2016 first round. This could be the juiciest matchup of the first round, as the eventual victor is guaranteed to give FC Cincinnati a run for their money in the second.

What games have sparked your interest? Which Michigan-based team will FC Cincinnati face in the next round? Let us know what you think!

BONUS Photos: FC Cincinnati 2 – 3 New York Red Bulls

Bonus images of FC Cincinnati’s semifinal defeat to the New York Red Bulls, courtesy of Joe Schmuck.

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Here are forty images of FC Cincinnati’s semifinal loss against the New York Red Bulls in the US Open Cup on Tuesday, August 15th. All photos courtesy of Joe Schmuck.

Also see the match report and takeaways at the link below:

FC Cincinnati 2 – 3 New York Red Bulls: Dream Cup Run Falls Just Short of Final

All images are copy write protected to safeguard the creative rights of our photographers. We’re very open to sharing our work with those who want to show support for FC Cincinnati. We simply request that you ask (via DM on Twitter or email) and give credit where it’s due. Thanks!

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2017 season.

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