Players from the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and FC Cincinnati battle for the ball in a Third Round match in the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Delaney Hoolahan
FC Cincinnati will have a chance at big game hunting once again, as their 3-1 victory against fellow USL side Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC saw them advance in the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
This will make two consecutive years that Cincinnati has reached the Fourth Round.
Cincinnati will get another shot at a MLS upset thanks to the three goals scored against a host Pittsburgh team that had yet to concede at home in the 2018 USL season. Cincinnati punctured Pittsburgh’s typically stingy back line in the 39th minute as Jimmy McLaughlin ran onto a Emery Welshman one-touch through ball lobbed over the defense. McLaughlin controlled and slotted it past Hounds goalkeeper Dan Lynd at the far post.
The winning goal proved to a long, low-driving free-kick from Cincinnati left back Lance Laing in the 61st minute. Lynd couldn’t react fast enough to the speedy strike, which one-hopped into the net on his left-hand side. Cincinnati sealed the win two minutes later after a shot from Welshman took an unfortunate deflection off Pittsburgh defender Hugh Roberts and fell right into the path of Daniel Haber, who finished the gifted chance into an open net.
Cincinnati head coach Alan Koch’s squad showed a technical superiority over Pittsburgh, as intricate combination passes helped chip away at the defensive fortress the Hounds had built at Highmark Stadium in their earlier matches.
“I’m glad to see for the guys sake that the hard work they’ve put in training gets rewarded,” Koch said. “Something like that can look simplistic at times, but it’s not that easy. To play one- or two-touch and move the ball very quickly is not easy when you play a good team like Pittsburgh.” A near own-goal from Cincinnati debutant Sem de Wit early in the second half almost saw them lose control of the match. Hounds forward Christiano Francois delivered a dangerous cross that de Wit sliced onto his own crossbar. The rebound fell to Pittsburgh’s Neco Brett who sailed his attempt over the bar. Dennis Chin managed a consolation goal in the 88th minute. After Andrew Lubahn danced around a couple Cincinnati defenders, his low shot ricocheted off the post right to Chin to smash it home. Noah Franke could have provided for some frantic last moments as a clear chance fell to him in stoppage to cut the lead to one, but Franke hesitated and the full-time whistle blew soon after.
Now FC Cincinnati will await their fourth round draw already with proof they have what it takes to defeat a club from America’s premier competition. Last year, they marched past MLS’ Columbus Crew SC in the Fourth Round and proceeded to knock off the Chicago Fire on their way to a surprise cup run to the Semifinals.
“I think the run we went on last year gave our entire group a sense of belief,” Koch said. “You can see it amongst the players. We embrace every challenge. It’s doesn’t matter who were playing. If it’s an MLS team, we know they are going to be loaded with top quality players, but we’ll fight in every single game.”