The upstart USL side FC Cincinnati continued their winning ways, topping Indy Eleven NPSL at Nippert Stadium by a score of 2-1 in the Second Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
This marked not only the first US Open Cup win for FC Cincinnati, but this was the first time a professional team from the city tasted victory in the tournament’s 103-year history.
Using a mixture of starters and subs, Cincinnati dominated much of the first half against the amateur side from the Indianapolis area, but the underdogs showed some fight. After a handling call in the box gave Cincinnati a penalty kick that Omar Cummings converted, it took less than three minutes for Indy to equalize. A beautiful give-and-go between Vincent Mitchell and Cristian Soto led to Mitchell getting the first goal from the run-of-play, with Soto picking up the assist.
Coming out of the locker rooms at halftime tied gave Indy obvious confidence, as they looked to be the better team for the first 15 minutes of the second half. However, that confidence unraveled when Jimmy McLaughlin scored in the 60th minute, just four minutes after being subbed into the game. McLaughlin collected a rebound from a Cummings header that was saved by Indy goalkeeper Cody Schweitzer, who finished the match with an impressive seven saves. It was McLaughlin’s third career US Open Cup goal.
“It was great,” McLaughlin said, “my second touch of the game, it was an easy finish in the corner…this was pretty special.”
Indy was never able to truly get another attack going after the second goal, and had three players pick up yellow cards in the second half as frustration and desperation mounted.
“I was happy to get a result and advance on…the unique part of the Open Cup is that it’s equal opportunity for everyone, amateur and pro status. When you get teams that you face at this level, you know that you can have a hard game,” FC Cincinnati head coach John Harkes said. He stressed to his team not to underestimate Indy Eleven just because they were a lower division team.
“You can’t leave the door open for hope,” Harkes said, “the message at halftime was that we need to do better. We need to concentrate on what we do best, and that’s moving the ball. We didn’t have enough of that in the first half.”
Cummings has the most Open Cup experience of any player on the team, having played for years in MLS, and he knows that anything can happen.
“The Open Cup is a run,” Cummings said, “it’s a competition where if you do well and have energy going forward, you can make a run and end up anywhere.”
With the victory, FC Cincinnati advances to the third round of the Cup and will face the NASL side Tampa Bay Rowdies on the road in the first week of June.