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Cincinnati knocked out of US Open Cup on penalties

FC Cincinnati fell to Minnesota United FC on penalties 3-1 in the US Open Cup Fourth Round. It took the full 90 minutes and 30 minutes of extra time of scoreless soccer to find a winner with penalties.

Cincinnati played a great match from the beginning to the end. There were points in tonight’s match where it was difficult to know who was the MLS team and who played in the USL. Cincinnati executed a game plan to defend like their lives depended on it and then counter with everything they had and they were a bounce going one way or the other from scoring in multiple instances during the match.

Head Coach Alan Koch commented after the match, “Really proud of our group of players tonight, for how they performed over the course of 90 minutes, 120 minutes. They went out and did everything we asked them to do. A lucky bounce here or there we win the game in 90 or 120 minutes.” He continued, “For a second-tier club, quite honest to go play like that against an MLS group where you couldn’t really tell the difference.”

On the penalty shootout, he said, “Penalty shootouts are an absolute lottery, a lot of it is momentum and we didn’t get that out of the gate.”

Koch made a point after the match saying, “We have yet to lose to an MLS team in 90 minutes.” Last season they beat the Crew 1-0 in 90 minutes, beat the Chicago Fire on penalties after 120 minutes, and were tied 2-2 after 90 minutes before Bradley Wright-Phillips scored a goal in extra time to deny Cincinnati a place in the Final.

The first 25 minutes tonight were almost forgettable with two audacious attempts from Cincinnati defender Sem de Wit, one long shot from 30 plus yards out and a snapshot that went way wide off a corner.

Finally, Cincinnati’s first decent chance of the night had an overlapping run from Russell Cicerone leading to a shot right at the keeper, but there was life in Cincinnati who had allowed Minnesota to control possession for most of the game to that point. Minutes later Maximiniano had a hard low shot just parried away by a diving Richey that was very close to giving Minnesota the lead.

Jimmy McLaughlin put a shot into the side netting in the 35’ after fighting off two defenders to create the chance for Cincinnati.

In the second half, Cincinnati came out firing with striker Emery Welshman in great position twice early in the half. The first chance he was ruled offside and Corben Bone’s cross was a little behind him on the second with the header went harmlessly wide.

Bone had a huge influence on the match tonight and drew two yellow cards. The first was on a counter after collecting the ball in the midfield and charging into the attacking third being pulled back the entire time. The second he made a great play to take the ball away from a Minnesota player in Cincinnati’s defensive third. Minnesota’s Collen Warner pulled Bone down immediately to prevent a two on two chance for Cincinnati.

Cincinnati had a very credible penalty complaint after Jimmy McLaughlin was brought down inside the box in the 85’. He collected the ball and turned toward goal and was a second away from shooting before having his arm grabbed and pulled down a few yards inside the box.

In extra time Minnesota wasted a bunch of time passing the ball around their back line. In the 108’ Cincinnati fullback Blake Smith got in great position inside the box but put a shot over the bar from 9 yards out.

Minnesota had their own penalty shout in the 110’ when Dekel Keinan jumped over the back of a Minnesota player off a corner and landed on top of him. Several Minnesota players were yelling at the referee but their cries for a penalty were waved off.

Penalties

Minnesota                                                   Cincinnati

  1. Christian Martinez – Goal                             1. Kenny Walker – Hit Crossbar
  2. Collin Martin – Goal                                      2. Sem de Wit – Saved
  3. Brent Kallman – Goal                                    3. Michael Lahoud – Goal
  4. Collen Warner – Saved                                 4. Nazmi Albadawi – Saved

In a very good performance for the entire team,  Cincinnati Bone stood out. He seemed to be everywhere tonight, making a few key interceptions that directly led to chances and was able to link up with Welshman several times in plays that led to shots. Keinan is also deserving of praise, winning many headers inside his own box and making long clearances.

Looking at the stats tonight the only one that would make you think Cincinnati was the underdog would be possession, which Minnesota led 66% to 34%. Cincinnati had two shots on target and 11 off target while Minnesota had four on target and three off target.

It was disappointing for Cincinnati to lose this early in the Open Cup; they have to be proud of how they played. This loss will be disheartening but will allow them to focus on the league and winning the championship in their final USL season.

Moments of the Match

29’ Minnesota’s first shot of the night is saved by a diving Spencer Richey on a shot that was going into the bottom corner.

35’ Corben Bone intercepts a pass in the attacking third, he passes off to Jimmy McLaughlin to his left who fights off two defenders before putting a shot into the side-netting.

51’ Cincinnati’s Emery Welshman put a shot just wide of the post was but ruled offside.

54’ Welshman puts a header just wide of the post. Bone with a great play to get into space on the left side of the box but the cross was a little behind Welshman.

76’ First booking of the match goes to Minnesota’s Maximiniano for pulling back on Bone’s short on a counter.

80’ Bone makes a great play dispossessing Collen Warner in Cincinnati’s defensive third. Warner pulls Bone down immediately to stop a counter-attack to pick up a yellow.

85’ McLaughlin goes down in the box but the penalty shout is waved away by the referee.

108’ Blake Smith of Cincinnati puts a shot over the bar. Good position but a very bad shot from inside the box.

110’ Dekel Keinan of Cincinnati jumps over and lands on top of Minnesota’s Christian Martinez in the box after a corner. Minnesota was calling for a penalty.

115’ Smith of Cincinnati received a yellow card for a late challenge.

Final Thoughts

Cincinnati played very well tonight and looked like they could have competed against anyone in the country tonight. Granted, Minnesota is a team in the bottom half of the Western Conference in the MLS they are only four points from a playoff spot.

Bone and Keinan were the stars of the night but Michael Lahoud will not get the credit he deserves in the midfield, due to primarily being played deep but I can see him being a spark plug like Kenny Walker was last year where he doesn’t show up a bunch in the box score but when he plays Cincinnati walks away with three points.

The only decision that can be questioned from Koch tonight is sending a cramping Walker up to take a penalty kick, much less the first one. The only player I would have not sent up instead was keeper Spencer Richey. It seemed a little reckless to me and relied on the stats at the end of practice instead of reading what the situation was.

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