The Golden Ticket: How FC Cincinnati could host the U.S. Open Cup Final
FC Cincinnati is the midst of a historic Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup run. They beat AFC Cleveland 1-0, Louisville FC 1-0, Columbus Crew 1-0, and then the Chicago Fire in penalty kicks to get to where they are now. After having their game on July 12 against Miami FC, the only other division two team remaining, postponed due to storms, they are having to wait three weeks to play.
This will be another crucial battle on their quest to becoming Cup champions. Miami FC, who beat Atlanta United 3-2 and Orlando City 3-1, have a high-powered attacking squad. They destroyed their NASL opponent, the San Fransisco Deltas, 7-0 on July 8. Their attack is lead by Stefano Pinho, the MLS combine's highest scorer in 2013. They are the outright great and will be a challenge for FC Cincinnati. FCC has yet to allow a Cup goal and goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt has been phenomenal. Their backline, which should back be at full strength following a plethora of injuries, should be prepared for the upcoming game.
Assuming FCC sneaks their way past Miami FC, they will take on the New York Red Bulls, who just walloped the San Jose Earthquakes, another team in the Cup semifinals, 5-1. In that game, the Red Bulls saw Daniel Royer score two goals in the 90' to cap an ecstatic victory. While New York currently sits fifth in the MLS's Eastern Conference and are still behind the first place team, the Chicago Fire, who lost to FCC in PKs on the ESPN broadcasted game that drew over 30,000 to Nippert Stadium. The Red Bulls, as well, do not fare well on the road, sitting at just 3-6-0 away from New York. With that being said, FCC might have a decent shot at beating them and advancing to the final which would be played on September 20.
Here is where FCC needs a bit of good karma. The two other semifinals teams, the San Jose Earthquakes and Sporting KC, will play their Cup game on August 9. Sporting KC, who sit atop the MLS's Western Conference, will host San Jose, who have fallen to seventh on the table. Sporting KC is UNDEFEATED at home with an impeccable 6-0-4 record. They have only given up 14 goals on the season, which is the least of any MLS team. This game will be a slugfest, and we need San Jose to come out on top for a chance to punch our "Golden Ticket".
So, FCC, to be able to host the Open Cup's final, will need a big-time performance from San Jose. A nationally televised Cup final could also have the potential to beat FCC's attendance record of 35,061, a record set against Crystal Palace of the English Premier League last season.
FCC was given a 25% chance to beat Columbus and a 15% chance to beat Chicago. So far, the odds have been stacked against them, and they continue to defy what the odd's favor.
Can FC Cincinnati continue to prove the world wrong?