FC Cincinnati beat AFC Cleveland 1-0 in the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Djiby Fall scored the long goal in the 116 minute of extra time in front of 12,790 at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati.
In a game heavily dominated by Cincinnati where they fired an incredible 44 shots putting 16 on target forcing the Cleveland keeper Alex Ivanov to make 15 saves in an outstanding performance. 16 of those shots were taken by Djiby, who put nine on target.
Cincinnati dominated the early part of the first half getting shots off and pressuring Cleveland. The Cleveland defense blocked a handful of shots early and won the headers in the box. But the longer the half went on the more comfortable Cleveland became creating a few chances but nothing to get a lead.
Early in the second half Cleveland created an early chance putting a shot off the crossbar and then minutes later a header off the corner had to be cleared off the line by keeper Dallas Jaye. Cincinnati regained control around the 70 minute barely letting the ball come back into their half of the field for the remainder of the 90 minutes. A few free kicks outside the box in dangerous positions all went harmlessly wide. Also a few shots late all went way wide from Corben Bone and Jimmy McLaughlin.
In extra time Cincinnati continued where they left off by possessing the ball and keeping in their attacking end. Djiby went down in the box but all appeals for a penalty were waved off by the referee much to the fans displeasure. Djiby was able to finally break the deadlock with a header in the 116 minute to send Cincinnati into the next round.
Head Coach Alan Koch commented on the game. “For 120 minutes we really took it to them. We should have finished the game earlier than we did. I’m going to give our players a lot of credit tonight. Other teams may go thought games like that and not win it.”
The win tonight moves Cincinnati into the third round of the U.S. Open Cup and will play Louisville City FC on May 31 home at Nippert. Louisville and Cincinnati last played on April 22 in feisty 1-1 draw. Djiby was given a red card that match for a flying challenge that took out a Louisville player and in a scuffle after receiving his red he bit one of the Louisville players in the face prompting a six game suspension (one for the red card and five for biting).
Djiby was allowed to play tonight, missing the last three, due to the suspension only being in USL matches. He will be eligible for the third round game but is still be out for the next three USL matches and will be eligible to return on June 10 against the Charlotte Independence.
Tonight Jaye, Derek Luke, Marco Dominguez, and Garrett Halfhill all made their first appearances of the season. Halfhill also made his team debut after being officially signed earlier in the day. Commenting on his performance coach Koch said, “That was brilliant, kid that played at Xavier, came in his first game and played like that.” His defensive partner Harrison Delbridge added, “Garrett played out of his skin.”
Playing 120 minutes was the last thing Cincinnati needed due to being on a short week playing the Bethlehem Steel this Saturday in what is as close to a must win game for Cincinnati due to being in 9 place today, one out of the playoffs, and having the expectations of being in the top four and getting a home playoff game coming into the season. The only starter to go the full 120 was Delbridge but other players who will most likely start Saturday are Kadeem Dacres, Bone, and Jimmy McLaughlin who all played over 50 minutes. Coach Koch joked, “For the guys who played a lot we are going to be working to develop the next Michael Phelps,” in response to how training will be for the next two days.
Moment by Moment
Cincinnati had a goal disallowed due to a foul on Victor Mansaray. The cross from Andrew Wiedeman was too close to the keeper who was able to get his hands on it and Mansaray collided with the keeper for a foul in the seventh minute.
Cleveland’s Ryan Ware gets a pass off a quick free kick and runs down the left side of the field getting into the six-yard box and puts the shot into the side netting for a goal kick in the 24 minute.
Harrison Delbridge chased down a Cleveland attacker and puts in a last second challenge at the top of the box to stop any chance of a shot in the 32 minute. A good play by Delbridge that would have resulted in a chance.
Eric Stevenson shot just wide from the top of the box after a great back pass from Fall in the 35 minute. One of the few shots that was not blocked.
A shot from Derek Luke is tipped by the keeper into the path of Fall who has his shot blocked by a desperate sliding challenge from a Cleveland defender. Fall was called for a foul due to kicking the Cleveland defender in the 37 minute. Fall was given a yellow card either for dissent or for the foul.
Cincinnati drew a foul about 23 yards out dead center from the goal. The shot from Wiedeman curled just wide in the 52 minute.
Dallas Jaye came up big in the 59 minute after a corner for Cleveland was headed on target and saved off the line. The ball was luckily cleared by Cincinnati to keep the game scoreless.
Delbridge made a fantastic run into the midfield splitting two Cleveland defenders and drawing a foul from a third defender after a hard collision about 20 yards out and left of goal in the 72 minute. The free kick from Wiedeman went harmlessly wide of goal.
Kadeem Dacres picked up a yellow card in the 90 minute after pulling back a Cleveland player on a counter.
In the four minutes of first half stoppage time Cincinnati kept up the pressure but a poor corner which failed to beat the first man and shots from Bone and McLaughlin go way wide.
Dacres has the first real chance of extra time for Cincinnati after cutting in from the right and unleashing a low shot that is just tipped wide by the keeper in the 95 minute.
Djiby Fall goes down in the box and the referee waves off penalty appeals in the 97 minute. He looked to be fouled and the crowd voiced their displeasure.
Djiby heads one home to break the stalemate in the 116 minute to give Cincinnati the lead. Assisted by Wiedeman who crossed in a perfect ball from the left as Djiby nods the ball into the lower corner.
After the goal Djiby had a pair of chances to double the lead, first he put a shot inside the six-yard box directly at the keeper and a few minutes later he fired a shot off the bottom of the crossbar.
This Saturday May 20 Cincinnati hosts the Bethlehem Steel at 7:00 p.m. Their last match was a 1-0 defeat on a late goal off a corner in a match Cincinnati dominated but couldn’t get the goal after all of their chances. Bethlehem is currently in 8 in the Eastern Conference, one spot ahead of Cincinnati.
The following Saturday, May 27, Cincinnati hosts Toronto FC II at 5:00 p.m. and the following Wednesday, May 31, will be the Third round of the U.S. Open Cup against Louisville City FC at 7:00 p.m.
Even though tonight was a tough match you have to give credit to Cleveland for sitting back and not letting Cincinnati have anything easy. Ivanov played an incredible game with the saves becoming more acrobatic as the game went on. Fans will be concerned that it was a team from the fourth tier NPSL but Cleveland played extremely well and cut out chances and blocked shots all night. When the vast majority of shots are being taken outside the box with players closing the shooter down it will always be a tough night.
Louisville won 9-0 against their NPSL opponent but two USL teams and two NASL team lost tonight against NPSL opponents showing it is not easy to win a game you should win. Those teams are the Pittsburgh River hounds, Richmond Kickers, New York Cosmos, and Indy Eleven.
On a more humorous side note we found out tonight that the game clock at Nippert can’t go above 100 minutes.