After beating in-state rivals Columbus Crew SC, FC Cincinnati now hosts the Chicago Fire in the Round of 16 in US Open Cup play.
The first ever meeting between FC Cincinnati was something out of a Hollywood script as over 30,000 strong witnessed FCC come out on top with a 1-0 victory. Cincinnati will now look to repeat that result, this time against arguably the hottest team in MLS, the Chicago Fire.
The Fire have dominated in MLS play, winning seven of their last eight matches. They now head into Nippert Stadium to try and build on their 1-0 victory against Saint Louis FC, who also play in USL with FC Cincinnati. The match will be broadcast on national television and early indications show at least another 25,000 will be attending the Open Cup match.
Current Record: 8-5-5
Last Time Out: 2-0 victory against Saint Louis FC.
How They Got Here: 1-0 victory over Columbus Crew SC.
Player To Watch: Djiby Fall. Djiby was the difference maker against the Crew with his perfectly placed header, and he will likely be called on again, this time to test a Fire defense that have only given up three goals in their last nine matches, including Open Cup play. Fall leads FCC in goals this season, and if he can capitalize on his chances, he may give cushion to his team’s defense that will likely be under heavy pressure most of the match.
Why They Win: FC Cincinnati took care of a strong Crew SC, and it wasn’t a fluke. Despite Columbus heading into the match with several of their key contributors, FCC did well in holding their shape and making life miserable in the middle for Federico Higuain, Justin Meram, and Ethan Finlay, which was no small task. It remains to be seen if the Fire choose to play their main midfield pieces, but if FCC can cause similar distress for the Fire, their Open Cup dreams have a good chance to continue.
Why They Won’t: The Fire are playing lights out right now. They’ve outscored their opponents 19-3 in their last nine contests and show no signs of slowing down. Cincinnati have had a great run, but on paper, it seems they lack the pieces to keep up with arguably the top MLS team.
Current Record: 10-4-3
Last Time Out: 4-0 win against Orlando City.
How They Got Here: 1-0 win against Saint Louis FC.
Player To Watch: Bastian Schweinsteiger. If the Fire choose to deploy their newly acquired designated player for his first Open Cup match, it will be a long day for FC Cincinnati. Schweinsteiger has been a calming, yet a dominant force in his first season of MLS play. His veteran presence, work rate, and key passing are all major factors in the Fire’s recent success.
Why They Win: Even if Chicago choose to rest some of their heavy hitters, the team definitely still has the depth to make life tough for FCC. It may become a match to forget if the Fire choose to go with their best XI. Nemanja Nikolic and David Accam have been terrorizing MLS defenses all year, with 24 goals between them. Should they see the field together, count on the clock striking twelve for FCC.
Why They Won’t: It’s simply hard not to pick the Fire in this one, but the same thing could have been said about Columbus before their showing against Cincinnati. A raucous crowd, a motivated home team, and what could be a reserve-heavy squad for the Fire could be the perfect mix for another cupset.
Prediction and How To Watch
Can they do it again? Will they break the all-time US Open Cup match attendance record? Everyone outside of Bridgeview will be pulling for them, and while the odds are stacked against FCC, we can’t help but keep on hoping their great run continues.
FC Cincinnati 1 – Chicago Fire 0
When: June 28,2017. 8:00 pm EST
Where: Nippert Stadium. Cincinnati, OH.