Open Cup: Miami FC and FC Cincinnati set for D2 showdown

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 16: Mitch Hildebrandt
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 16: Mitch Hildebrandt /

The darlings of the US Open Cup are set to cross paths for a chance to move into the semifinals. Here is what we’ll be looking for in the match.

It’s a match most fans wanted to see in the next round, but the luck of the draw chose otherwise. The Miami FC of NASL are all set to host FC Cincinnati of USL in the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup. The winner will take of New York Red Bulls or the New England Revolution for a chance to move on to the cup final.

FC Cincinnati

Current Record: 6-6-6

Last Time Out: 2-0 win against Richmond Kickers

How They Got Here: 0(3)-0(1) win against the Chicago Fire

Player To Watch: Mitch Hildebrandt. The goalkeeper was clearly the Man of the Match against the Fire. Hildebrandt single handily kept FCC in the contest with save after save, then stopped three penalty kicks to earn the win. He’ll likely be called on multiple times again, as The Miami FC are also an attack heavy side.

Why They Win: Cincinnati’s cup run has been nothing short of magical. In all three of their last matches, they were heavy underdogs and even needed an 115th-minute goal to get past reigning NPSL champions AFC Cleveland. Regardless, they are now heading into their fifth Open Cup match this year after pairing up with one of the tougher opponents in every round, and they just keep coming out on top. They looked like a completely different squad against the Columbus Crew and matched the Fire in the second half and in extra time after weathering the first half. While Cincinnati are relatively average in league play, they’ve been nothing but resilient in the Open Cup.

Why They Won’t: This will be FCC’s third trip to Florida in the last 11 days, and their fourth match in that same span. It will also be the first time they’ll have to leave their home fortress of Nippert Stadium in their Open Cup run. They have only scored four road goals this year while giving up nine in their eight away trips. With Cincinnati currently sitting in 6th place in the USL Eastern Conference and struggling on the road in league play, leaving Nippert may mean the clock has struck twelve on their cup run. It doesn’t help that Miami have scored 16 goals in their last four home matches, including their last Open Cup match.

Miami FC

Current Record: 10-2-3

Last Time Out: 7-0 win against SF Deltas

How They Got Here: 3-2 win over Atlanta United

Player To Watch: Kwadwo Poku. Miami FC is rolling right now, as evident by their cup form and their recent league results. Poku has been a major part of that, and his impact was reinforced as Miami lost to North Carolina FC on Independence Day when he was given a well-deserved break. Poku has made quite the reputation for himself in the Open Cup over the years, and he has a chance to add even more to his impressive cup resume.

Why They Win: Miami’s attack is relentless while their defense is unforgiving. Expect to see a first choice squad come out and make a statement against FC Cincinnati. Their 7-0 explosion secured them the NASL Spring Season crown, and they’ll be looking to build on their blistering hot home form in cup play. On paper, it looks like a lopsided victory should be the outcome for the Florida side, but FCC have overcome the odds multiple times already. However, not having to head into Nippert is a massive advantage for Miami, as Cincinnati have been nothing but vulnerable on the road.

Why They Won’t: You can’t ignore what FC Cincinnati has done to reach this point and the stark contrast between how they’ve looked in league play vs in cup play. Cincinnati’s defense shut out the arguably the best attack in MLS for 120 minutes, and Miami could have a hard time breaking down FCC’s defensive shape as well. If Cincinnati can slow the game down and grind out the match like they did against their MLS opponents, Miami FC may be the next squad to be cupset.

Prediction and How To Watch

Next: Davies leads Canada to Gold Cup win

Both sides are likely to bring their best XI into this one, but Miami FC just has too much going their way to pick the Cinderella story.

Miami FC 2 – FC Cincinnati 0

When: Wednesday, July 12, 2017. 7:30 pm EST

Where: Riccardo Silva Stadium. Miami, FL