FC Cincinnati of the United Soccer League will advance to the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup after pulling off an unlikely upset over the MLS Chicago Fire.
The US Open Cup is the stateside equivalent of England’s FA Cup — a soccer tournament that can be entered by amateur and professional teams alike. Tournaments of this structure allow for a specific kind of soccer mayhem, where lower tier and even amateur beer-league teams can find themselves on the pitch against established clubs, and in some rare cases, beating them.
On Wednesday night, two Division II clubs — FC Cincinnati and Miami FC, representing the USL and NASL, respectively — found themselves up against opponents that play in MLS, the top league in North American soccer. Both lower tier teams would escape with thrilling victories.
For FC Cincinnati, the effort was lead by keeper Mitch Hildebrandt, who was able to keep a clean sheet through 120 minutes of play. Cincinnati put the ball in the back of Chicago’s net late in extra time, but an offside call kept the goal from making its way from the field to the scoreboard, leaving the teams in a 0-0 draw heading to a shootout.
Hildebrandt was up to the task, making three huge saves that ultimately put his squad through to the next round of the tournament, and send the crowd home in hysterics. You can watch video of Hildebrandt’s stellar shootout performance below.
FC Cincinnati is a young team, having just begun play in 2016, but it’s already having quite an impact on American soccer. Beyond the result they got on Wednesday night, the club also set a record for US Open Cup attendance in a non-final match, with over 32,000 supporters showing up to cheer on the squad.
With their impressive local support and results like this, the team is a solid candidate for MLS expansion the next time the league decides to grow.
Chances are FC Cincinnati expected to face another MLS team in the next round of the tournament, but those expectations were shattered when Miami FC pulled off a Cinderella story of their own, netting a stoppage time goal against MLS’ Atlanta United FC to break a 2-2 tie and advance.
Again, it was a moment that sent the home side’s fans out of the stadium in euphoria.
Miami FC will host FC Cincinnati in the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup on July 12. The winner of the match will be the first non-MLS team to reach the tournament’s semi-final stage since 2011, and will be just two wins away from being the first lower division team to win the tournament since 1999.
POKU AT THE DEATH! ???? Watch how @TheMiamiFC took down @ATLUTD in the final play of the game & earned their ???? to the #USOC2017 Quarterfinals. pic.twitter.com/pEPLFiURSD
— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) June 29, 2017
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