American hero: Hildebrandt helps FC Cincinnati topple Chicago Fire, advance in U.S. Open Cup

We thought it could happen just once. But, the players, club, and fans knew that FC Cincinnati had it in them to pull off another insane upset. After being given a 25% chance to beat the Columbus Crew, FCC did the unthinkable, beat the Crew, and advanced.

Then they were matched with an incredible MLS opponent in the Chicago Fire, led by German legend Bastian Schweinsteiger. Before this game, FCC was given just a 15% chance to pull off the upset, and if you saw the first half, you might agree. The Fire dominated the first half. At the break, the Fire had a terrifying 78% of the possession. They dominated the game, yet they could not find the back of the net. The home team in blue and orange did actually have the best first half attempt that striker Danny Konig could not finish.
The halftime whistle blew, and the nationally televised match was still scoreless. At the half, the Fire had 9 shots and none on frame compared to FCC's 5 shots and one on the frame.

Then the first sub, Jimmy McLaughlin, came in at the 70th minute. His energy was felt immediately as FCC started to settle in, control the ball, and attack more. From the 70th minute on, FCC controlled the match. Even with the German mastermind in the middle for the opponent, the home side was able to constantly harass him.

Nippert Stadium, which saw more than 32,000 in attendance (the second largest ever for a U.S. Open Cup game and the largest for a non-final), became electric. Being in the stands, I'm positive the energy was felt because the entire place and what felt like the entire city was on their feet.

With save after save from man of the match Mitch Hildebrandt, the game continued on as FCC again had the best chance of the second half on a goal that was called back for being offside, a questionable call at best. The Fire also had a handball in the box which was not called so this game could have been an even bigger win for FCC.

There were also several FCC breakaways that the team could not finish. It is truly amazing that this game was kept scoreless till PKs. McLaughlin, Weideman (who came on 112'), and Corben Bone all had chances to take the home side ahead. It was the same with the Fire though. All 7 of their shots on frame were rejected and many were heroic, swing saves.

Either way, the game was sent to PKs, where Mitch really stood out. He saved three of the four kicks, and he only let Schweinsteiger beat him on a kick right down the middle.
The game was insane, and the atmosphere was incredible. If you missed this game, you missed what could have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.


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