Quest for the Cup A recap of FC Cincinnati's U.S. Open Cup wins

FC Cincy 1, AFC Cleveland 0

May 17

Striker Djiby Fall was able to start the game despite being in the middle of a six-game United Soccer League suspension. His return proved valuable as he put home the match’s lone goal in extra time. It probably shouldn’t have come to that as FC Cincinnati dominated the game at Nippert Stadium, outshooting AFC Cleveland, of the National Premier Soccer League, by a staggering 44-6 margin. Fall alone had 16 shots -- nine of which were on goal.

"Obviously us playing at home, being the team from a higher league, we're supposed to win, but that doesn't always happen in cup soccer,” FC Cincinnati coach Alan Koch said after the match. “It's a game of margins, but for the bulk of the 120 minutes, we really took it to them.”

Kadeem Dacres slides to make a cross against AFC Cleveland. (WCPO file)

Djiby Fall celebrates the only score in FC Cincinnati's win over AFC Cleveland. (WCPO file)

FC Cincinnati fans are thrilled with their side's win. (WCPO file)

FC Cincy 1, Louisville City 0

May 31

Djiby Fall did it again, versus the team against which he got his six-game suspension, no less. Fall’s goal in the 48th minute was enough to beat bitter rival Louisville City. It was the second straight 1-0 result and propelled FC Cincinnati to a matchup with Major League Soccer side and in-state foe Columbus Crew SC.

The game was chippy, as all FC Cincinnati/Louisville City matches have become. Each team received three yellow cards with Cincinnati committing 15 fouls and Louisville having seven.

“Both teams went at it, and I give credit to every single guy on the pitch because man, they fought hard,” FC Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt said after the game. “Everybody, back to front, defended well, and we attacked as a group. For a full 90 minutes, everyone worked their butts off."

FC Cincinnati forward Andrew Wiedeman holds off Louisville FC defender Tarek Morad. (WCPO file)

FC Cincinnati midfielder Corben Bone makes a move on Louisville City's Mark-Anthony Kaye in their U.S. Open Cup match. (WCPO file)

FC Cincinnati supporters celebrate another win and a date with Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew SC. (WCPO file)

FC Cincy 1, Columbus Crew 0

June 14

The “Hell is Real” derby didn’t disappoint FC Cincinnati fans -- all 30,160 of them who showed up at Nippert Stadium to see the blue and orange take on MLS side Columbus Crew SC.

On the surface, the game was deja vu -- a 1-0 win in which Djiby Fall scored the lone goal. But this one wasn’t lopsided in favor of FC Cincinnati. Columbus dominated the match, outshooting the home team 19-5 and winning the possession battle, controlling the ball 60 percent of the game. However, a compact defense protected the goal until Djiby could sneak in a header at the 65th minute.

“To play against an MLS club, there are USL teams that play against MLS teams in the Cup, and there are occasional upsets like there was tonight, but they don't happen very often,” coach Alan Koch said after the match. “A lot of times the team that comes from the higher league will walk away (winners), but it is a very special moment. I think I would be amiss to say it's just another victory. It's a huge victory for a club that has huge aspirations."

The Bailey gets fired up for the "Hell is Real" derby against Columbus Crew SC. (Greg Lynch/Dayton Daily News)

FC Cincinnati forward Andrew Wiedeman out-duels Columbus midfielder Artur in their U.S. Open Cup match. (Greg Lynch/Dayton Daily News)

Djiby does it again! For the third straight U.S. Open Cup match, FC Cincinnati Djiby Fall provided the lone goal. (Greg Lynch/Dayton Daily News)

FC Cincy 0, Chicago Fire 0 (3-1 FCC in shootout)

June 28

The win over Columbus was the biggest in FC Cincinnati’s history… for two weeks.

A fourth straight home game in the U.S. Open Cup brought another MLS side, Chicago Fire SC -- a team that arrived as one of the hottest in its league. The stage was set with a massive crowd of 32,287 and a national television audience watching on ESPN. FC Cincinnati did not disappoint.

Djiby Fall was hurt and not available to be the hero in this one as the teams battled to a 0-0 tie in regulation, leading to two 15-minute extra time periods that were also scoreless. FC Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt put on a legendary performance -- saving 10 shots in 120 minutes of play and then following it by stopping three of four penalty kicks in the decisive shootout.

“You kind of dream of that moment -- bottom of the ninth and hit a World Series home run, I guess that's the American version of this,” Hildebrandt said. “You just want to be there for your team. I just try not to think of any of the pressure and World Cup winner stands up to take a penalty kick against you, you try to forget who he is and just try to stop the ball so it's exciting.”

FC Cincinnati midfielder Josu lines up a crossing pass against Chicago Fire SC. (E.L. Hubbard/WCPO Contributor)

FC Cincinnati striker Danni Konig races to control the ball against Chicago Fire SC. (E.L. Hubbard/WCPO Contributor)

FC Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt runs to celebrate with teammates after sealing the win with his third save of the shootout against Chicago Fire SC. (Phillip Lee/WCPO)

FC Cincy 1, Miami FC 0

Aug. 2

FC Cincinnati finally had to go on the road, but also finally got to face a side from a lower division after two MLS battles.

But the North American Soccer League's Miami FC was no pushover. They also had been a giant killer, knocking off MLS sides Orlando City and Atlanta United en route to the quarterfinals. They also had already won their league title.

It wasn't enough though to top FC Cincinnati. Djiby was back and did what Djiby does -- scoring the game's lone goal for a 1-0 win. Goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt and the FC Cincinnati defense extended their Cup shutout streak to five games and a modern-era tournament record 510 minutes.

"I’m incredibly proud of our team, our staff, the club, the traveling fans who came and supported us,” head coach Alan Koch said. “I think we were all part of something truly special tonight.”

FC Cincinnati defenders converge on Miami FC forward Vincenzo Rennella. (Courtesy of Miami FC)

FC Cincinnati defender Harrison Delbridge lines up a cross against Miami FC. (Courtesy of Miami FC)

FC Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt directs his players. (Courtesy of Miami FC)

Created By
Dave Niinemets
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