US Open Cup semifinal #2: FC Cincinnati (USL) vs NY Red Bulls (MLS)
It’s been nearly an entire calendar year since the 2017 US Open Cup competition began in September of 2016. Indeed, registration for the 2018 competition will be closed by the time the last semifinal kicks off this Tuesday night in Cincinnati. And the first qualifying match for the next tournament will be played just four days after this year’s final next month. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Last week Sporting Kansas City claimed the first spot in this year’s final with a victory on penalties over San Jose Earthquakes. This week FC Cincinnati and NY Red Bulls meet in what could be a preview of a coming MLS Eastern Conference rivalry to determine the last piece of that US Open Cup final matchup.
FC Cincinnati (H)
- Current USL Record (W-L-D): 8-9-7
- Last Time Out: FCC was mauled by Louisville City FC away, 0-5, in USL’s River City Derby this past Saturday (Aug. 12).
- Player to Watch For: Keeper Mitch Hildebrandt has become FCC’s most recognizable name and face. And for good reason. His side went down a man early in that last match with Lou City. He made some good saves but still took a drubbing. If he draws the start in the Open Cup semi he will face a Red Bulls side that has also been on a scoring tear of late. Can Hildebrandt and FC Cincinnati shake off that last performance by Tuesday night?
- Why They Win: Good defending and goalkeeping, Djiby Fall’s opportunistic striking, and home stands filled to capacity with rabid fans, has been FCC’s formula for the Open Cup.
- Why They Won’t: FCC are one of the clubs that Charleston Battery’s recent scoring lull has brought into contention on the USL East conference table. Saturday they failed to capitalize on that. And failed in a big way. It is a quick turnaround for Cincinnati’s second huge match in 4 days for the Open Cup semi. Their home fan support will surely be tested.
NY Red Bulls
- Current MLS Record (W-L-D): 12-9-3
- Last Time Out: Defeated Orlando City SC, 3-1, at home.
- Player to Watch For: Bradley Wright-Phillips has had his share of the goal this year. He always does. Up to Red Bulls’ meeting with NYC FC, two Saturdays ago now, Daniel Royer was getting his own as a result of a midseason change in the club’s formation. But Royer suffered an injury in the Yankee Stadium match. Despite the win over Orlando, Red Bulls may not have recovered completely as of yet. Royer’s a possibility for the semifinal with FCC, but only just. Two weeks ago the club acquired forward Muhamed Keita from Norway’s top flight. Now might be a good time for a newcomer to step up.
- Why They Win: BWP’s relentless finishing, a reshaped back line, and Luis Robles in goal.
- Why They Won’t: The Open Cup semifinal is on a quick turnaround for Red Bulls as well. Regular starters would be going on short rest. Some will likely not play. Robles, for example, was held out of previous Open Cup rounds. On top of that, NYRB will face a sellout crowd at Nippert Stadium. The longer the match goes scoreless, the larger the home field advantage.
FC Cincinnati 1-1 NY Red Bulls; Cincinnati advances on PK’s.