This run to the final has been spectacular, seeing what the boys were doing in their US Open Cup matches was unbelievable. For the first time in the clubs history they will face a lower level side late in their run to the Final.
But traveling to FC Cincinnati in the Semi-Finals was a huge deal when the game was at Nippert Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati. The run the Orange & Blue had is nothing short of incredible.
Wins over their USL Rival in Louisville City, victories over their instate sides in AFC Cleveland & the Columbus Crew, a Penalty Kick Shootout win over the Chicago Fire and a big one goal victory over Miami FC of the NASL in the Quarterfinals.
But this time around FC Cincinnati would face the Red Bulls of MLS instead of their USL two side and as Jesse Marsch knew, this opponent was ready to take on the boys in red and white and looking to move on to the Championship Final.
A grand total of 33,250 Cincinnatians along with a good travel group of Red Bulls Supporters attended this huge match to see which side was going to take a trip to face Sporting Kansas City.
Cincy would take the opening goal in the 31st minute as Corbon Bone ripped a hard shot inside the far post to take the lead. Andrew Wiedeman delivered a solid ball half way past the midfield stripe to Danni Konig who chested it towards Bone for the goal.
After halftime ended the Red Bulls started to string some passes along and tried to make Mitch Hildebrandt work in goal, but the quality of the chances weren’t that much trouble for him.
But a corner kick was awarded to FC Cincinnati as Kenney Walker delivered it from the near side and out of nowhere Austin Berry found a way to beat the defense and headed it past Ryan Meara for the second goal in the 62nd minute.
After Berry converted his chance that familiar feeling just rushes into your body that you can’t believe this run might come to an end. That’s right it’s that empty pit you feel in your stomach, that could mean the might not be a comeback in this one.
But all of a sudden you felt that a chance was coming, even though Gonzalo Veron subbed into the match before the second Cincy goal was scored, it really got started when Derrick Etienne Jr was brought into the match in the 74th minute, because he started the comeback.
A brilliant ball was delivered from the near side to the middle of the Cincinnati area and while Austin Berry tried to clear the cross away, he accidentally gave Veron a free shot and then for the first time in this edition of the Open Cup Mitch said Yes.
The balloon popped, the collective gasp came from the fans, the let down began as Mitch Hildebrandt allowed his first US Open Cup goal in this 2017 edition, Veron’s first US Open Cup goal came in the 75th minute and then cracks in the dam began to break.
Three minutes later Bradley Wright-Phillips converted the equalizer as Tyler Adams crossed a brilliant ball and all BWP did was leap up and snapped a header shot inside the near post to beat Hildebrandt for the second time.
Many close calls came to the Red Bulls as they had great chances to end this match in regulation, but sadly either the ball nailed woodwork or just wide of the net. Then the whistle blew for the end of regulation leveled at two.
The hope was to see the Red Bulls to snag a go-ahead goal and try to hold on to get rid of the last thirty minutes to advance to the final. That third goal did come in the 101st minute when Sacha Kljestan found Sal Zizzo to the near side.
Zizzo knew quickly he had to cross that ball to the middle of the area and when it was delivered, Wright-Phillips put himself into perfect position as he stepped back and leaps for another snap header to beat Hildebrandt for the third time in this Semi-Final.
But two minutes later a scary moment happened as Meara tries to come out for a crossed ball and it was tapped away by Marco Dominguez. He tried to tap it inside an open net, but out of nowhere Adams saves the day by deflecting the ball away as he says no to FC Cincinnati.
After it was all said and done, the Red Bulls and FC Cincinnati heard the final whistle blow. After it was all said and done, the huge home town advantage went home as their side will not move on to the US Open Cup Final. That was reserved for the visitors who came back down two goals and scored three unanswered.
A huge moment for a club that currently has two Supporter Shields and no cups to speak of which has a glorious chance to do so on Wednesday, September 20th as they get ready for a chance to earn some very important silverware.