Mitch Hildebrandt: 2nd Division keeper sets 1st class standard
After a couple of phenomenal games in the US Open Cup, Mitch Hildebrandt has been award the TheCup.us Lower Division Player of the Tournament. TheCup.us, according to their bio on Twitter, is the "only media outlet that gives full coverage of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup." While not affiliated with USSF, the Cup's awards still should hold some sort of prestige.
The class that FCC's goalie, Mitch Hildebrandt, showed was remarkable. After FC Cincinnati beat the reigning fourth division champion, AFC Cleveland, they hosted Louisville City FC, the Columbus Crew, and the Chicago Fire. Mitch Hildebrandt did NOT allow a goal to the USL's top Eastern Conference team or either of the top-tier MLS teams. He gained another clean sheet in Miami when they took on Miami FC. What Mitch Hildebrandt did this tournament will be long-lived as FCC vies for an MLS expansion.
After beating LCFC and the Crew 1-0, FC Cincinnati somehow overpowered the Fire in penalty kicks after holding their own for 120 minutes. Following that magical victory, FCC beat the NASL Spring Champs, Miami FC, 1-0 in Miami. To end the tournament, FCC lost 3-2 to the New York Red Bulls after being up 2-0 through 65 minutes. But, in the end, the fans and teams had enough. A final would have been amazing, but Cincinnati was put on the map and Don Garber and the MLS should've taken notice.
Following the tournament, Mitch said this regarding the effort and tenacity his team showed (via TheCup.us):
“Credit goes to the entire team,” said Hildebrandt about his record-breaking performance. “Looking back, obviously to the Chicago match, our guys ran and fought for 120 minutes and people tend to forget that and are blinded by just the ending. But the whole tournament our team battled and defended as a group front to back. I had to make saves when called on but most of the time, considering the teams we were playing, they made my job pretty straightforward.”
Here are three of Mitch's phenomenal saves against the Chicago Fire that will forever be in the hearts of every fan in attendance.
Hildebrandt went 585 straight minutes without giving up a goal in the US Open Cup. That is a Cup record and one of the main reasons this incredible goalie was able to gain this award. It hasn't just been the Cup though. Mitch has been electric all season for FC Cincinnati. At 98 saves on the season, Mitch leads the USL in saves, and he has tallied over 10 more than the closest Eastern Conference goalie.WATCH: Mitch Hildebrandt 3 PK saves to help #FCCincy beat the Chicago Fire! #CINvCHI pic.twitter.com/31eHqZg5Qa— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) June 29, 2017
Mitch is a leader. Mitch is our leader, and hopefully, he will be able to bring us home the USL Championship this season.