CINCINNATI, OH --- FC Cincinnati toppled Major League Soccer side Chicago Fire SC 3-1 on penalty kicks in the Round of 16 of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Wednesday night. The match attracted a crowd of 32,287 to Nippert Stadium, which marks the largest attendance for an official FCC match and the second-largest attendance in U.S. Open Cup history. With Wednesday’s win, FCC will travel to face Miami FC of the North American Soccer League on July 12 in a quarterfinal matchup of the U.S. Open Cup.
“Proud of our team. That was awesome and a lot of fun,” said FCC Head Coach Alan Koch. “We grew as the game went out and started creating opportunities. I’m equally as proud of this club, the way they market and promote this team and their vision is first-class. I’m so proud of the city of Cincinnati too as you don’t see passion like that for our sport. The energy was absolutely fantastic.”
After 120 minutes of shutout soccer, FCC midfielder Aodhan Quinn stepped up to take the first attempt at a penalty kick and missed high. However, goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt kept things level, making a diving save to his left on Nemanja Nikolic’s first strike for the Fire. FCC midfielder Josu connected on a left-footed shot into the right side of the goal for a 1-0 advantage. Chicago’s counter came from defender Matt Polster and his try was saved again by Hildebrandt.
Defender Harrison Delbridge stepped up for the home team and connected on a right-footed shot into the left side of the goal and Bastian Schweinsteiger countered with a try through the center of the net.
Midfielder Jimmy McLaughlin connected on a right-footed attempt into the left side of the goal and Hildebrandt sealed the victory with a save on Juninho’s shot to the right.
In regulation, Chicago came out in their attack to the tune of seven shots in the first 35 minutes to FCC’s one. The Fire missed on five of their shots and had the other two blocked. In the 38th minute, FCC forward Danni Kӧnig stole possession from Chicago and raced past the Fire defense and deep into their territory. From the left side of the box, Kӧnig tried a right-footed shot toward the right side of the goal that was on target but saved by Chicago goalkeeper Matthew Lampson.
Kӧnig’s try was the Orange and Blue’s only attempt on target in the first half. Chicago had controlled 77.5% of possession after 45 minutes and the Fire held the advantage at the break with nine shots at the goal to FCC’s five.
Hildebrandt kept his club in the match with a series of athletic saves throughout the second half. In the 47th minute, Schweinsteiger tried a shot from the left side of the box, but Hildebrandt came up with a diving save to prevent a score.
In the 64th minute, Nikolic tried a left-footed shot from the center of the box, but Hildebrandt again prevented a score with a diving one-handed save. A few possessions later, Schweinsteiger stole possession from FCC in the 85th minute and passed a back-heel kick to Nikolic that was deflected by the FCC defense. Chicago forward Michael de Leeuw controlled possession and tried a shot from the top of the box, but Hildebrandt dove to his left for another save.
Said Hildebrandt postgame: “This win is for every single guy in that locker room and I’m thrilled for the entire club.”
FCC nearly took the lead in the 113th minute of action when midfielder Corben Bone set up forward Andrew Wiedeman for a shot from the left side of the box. Wiedeman drilled his attempt into the right side of the goal, but was called offside by the officials.
This Round of 16 matchup was a goalkeeper duel. By the conclusion of match play, Lampson had recorded seven saves on the night and Hildebrandt tallied 10 of his own.
The Orange and Blue will return to action Saturday, July 1, as they travel to face Orlando City B; kickoff for that match is scheduled for 8:30 PM.
Penalty kicks: FCC 3 – Chicago 1
FCC: Mitch Hildebrandt, Austin Berry, Justin Hoyte, Harrison Delbridge, Matt Bahner, Josu, Marco Dominguez, Aodhan Quinn, Eric Stevenson, Kadeem Dacres, Danni Kӧnig
CHI: Matthew Lampson, Matt Polster, Brandon Vincent, Johan Kappelhof, Jonathan Campbell, Arturo Alvarez, Drew Conner, Juninho, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Michael de Leeuw, Nemanja Nikolic