Magic runs out for FC Cincinnati in U.S. Open Cup semifinals

FC Cincinnati’s magic finally ran out. More accurately, it was ripped right out from under the second-year United Soccer League club.

FCC was about 15 minutes from a trip to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final when Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls suddenly found new life with a pair of goals in a three-minute span. The hosts were left stunned, as New York carried the momentum into extra time for a 3-2 win in the semifinals in front of a sellout crowd of 33,250 at Nippert Stadium.

“Anytime you are up 2-0 in a game and don’t win you are going to be disappointed in the end,” FC Cincinnati coach Alan Koch said. “Throwing that aside, nothing but absolute pride in the group of players that put in everything they could for our team, our club and our city. Our team can leave very, very proud of what they’ve done not only tonight but in this club. It was truly magical.”

The Orange and Blue had taken a 2-0 lead in the 62nd minute when Cincinnati native Austin Berry headed in Kenney Walker's corner kick at the far post, but allowed New York back in it with goals from Gonzalo Vernon and Bradley Wright-Phillips, which tied the game in the 78th minute. The score would hold into extra time.

Wright-Phillips notched the game-winner in the 101st minute, though play would continue through a full 30 minutes of overtime. FCC's Marco Dominguez nearly tied it back up two minutes after the Red Bulls went ahead, but Tyler Adams swept in to block his shot after Dominguez beat New York backup goalie Ryan Meara to a cross with a wide open net in front of him.

“Big-time players step up in big-time moments, and that’s what happened tonight,” Koch said.

FCC had won four of its previous five Cup games 1-0 — with the fifth coming in penalty kicks – and the hosts managed to take a lead in this one without Djiby Fall, who accounted for all four of those game-winners.

Despite Fall's absence and a serious possession time disadvantage, FC Cincinnati got on the board with its earliest goal of the tournament when Corben Bone found the back of the net for his first goal of the season in the 31st minute. FCC's previous goals had all come after halftime, but the hosts broke through relatively quickly this time after Andrew Wiedeman sent in a cross to Danni Konig, who chested the ball down to the oncoming Bone.

FC Cincinnati went 585 minutes into the tournament before giving up a goal, and Vernon ended the streak in the 75th minute after Derrick Etienne Jr. sent in a cross that FCC couldn't clear. Wright-Phillips then silenced an electric home crowd with the equalizer off Adams' assist.

“We escaped by the skin of our teeth,” New York Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch said.

New York now heads to its second Cup championship in club history, traveling to Sporting Kansas City for the final Sept. 20. FCC, which had two wins over MLS squads in its impressive run, was the first lower division team to make the final four since 2011 and was looking to become the first non-MLS team to win the Cup since the 1999 Rochester Rhinos.

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