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U.S. Open Cup 2023 FCC Sneaks by on Penalties


J.J. Pavlick

The matchup between FC Cincinnati and the New York Red Bull was expected to be a big clash of power in the U.S. Open Cup however, FCC left Brandon Vazquez home and didn't even add Matt Miazga or Raymon Gaddis to their starting lineup. It appears FCC has no desires in an open cup run, that or they feel far superior to the surging Red Bulls. The Red Bulls have Vanzeir with Cam Harper, Dru Yearwood, and Tom Barlow in support of the striker upfront. The winner moves on to the round of 8, a Red Bull victory means they will host Pittsburgh next round.

So far, it's been an even matchup with the New York Red Bull having the first 3 shots of the match inside the 6.5-section fan base inside the arena. It may be a Tuesday night but that isn't affecting other teams from drawing fans to games. The two sides are separated by 16 points, in the MLS standings and making it the 1 seed vs the 11th seed. Just a few matches ago NY was the league's laughingstock but then Troy Lesesne took the helm, and the team has been undefeated since he took the reins, rising from dead last to a tie for 10th with their public enemy number 1 NYCFC. They're currently just 2 points out of the playoffs right now. The center referee seems to have an issue with the Red Bull, on a personal level having shown two extremely weak yellow cards. When I say weak, I mean even Grade 7's at the youth and amateur level are not showing a card for the fouls. The first yellow was shown to Hassan Ndam at midfield and then Casseres Jr also at midfield. The pandemic of poor officiating seems to be a continuing story at all levels of soccer in this country and across multiple sports. It used to be we would see one clueless official every so often now it's more of an every-game situation for the majority. The last well-called game I can recall is the Derby match which was handled by the legend Ted Unkle. The Red Bull currently has a 6 - 0 shot advantage but you really wouldn't know it. Now Barlow is taken down in the box, the center says no, Sean Nealis barely touches an FCC player, and surprise another yellow card is shown. That is 3 yellow cards shown in 28' and the game isn't even chippy or physical by any means. The man in the middle seems to think Major League Soccer, is all about him and not the 22 players on the pitch. Vanzeir dances into the box, finds an open Harper who takes too many touches and blows his shooting lane, easy save for Kann in the net for FCC. Tom Barlow wastes a great pass in the box, he just let it go right by him when all he needed to do was collect and score. Just another example of the failed Barlow experiment, and why in July he needs a new home. FCC will need to commit a felony on the field to see a yellow card, they've already committed the same fouls and more as NY and no yellows have been shown to them. They even kicked the ball away to prevent a restart and no yellow. Sean Nealis gives it a go from 19 yards out and it goes out over the crossbar in the 38', the score remains 0 - 0. The center's fitness level should be held in question as well, he has not done a single sprint all match just walks from point A to B, the match is only 39' old and not fast-paced, yet he struggles to find shape and position. The center misses a clear and obvious handling offense by FCC that led to a dangerous opportunity in the box for them in the 41'. FCC scores in the 42' when Kubo shot a low-driven ball to the inside of the 2nd post. Ryan will want that one back as he should've made the save from the 18 yards out attempt. It was FCC's 2nd shot of the match and the first one on the frame. FCC grabs the 1st half lead 1 - 0 despite being outplayed all half. The center just told FCC where the NY pass was going because he was out of position and failing to move, of course, FCC closed the gap and caused issues for NY. Red Bull earn a late corner, Tolkin's cross played out for another corner, Referee calls another mystery foul against New York. That will end the first half of play between the sides.

The Red Bulls are playing well, they just need that final touch to fall their way and they would be dominating this match. Troy could go either way with substitutions at the half, he doesn't need to make one but if he did no one would question it at all. FCC is struggling to maintain pressure and possession in the match, which is a rare sight to see out of the club. Granted they're without Brandon who didn't make the trip and Miazga is on the bench.

"Yeah, I mean, I told them when you lose in penalties, it's not a great feeling. Obviously, we did so much to invest in that match to come away and progress to the next round. But not one single player or any staff member should hang their head after that performance. It's a great performance against a very good team. Even though they're missing players, they still have a lot of quality on the field. And again, I think you saw some incredible moments from us to get the second goal during the 120 minutes, obviously didn't come. If we keep getting in those positions, I feel really good about the direction we're going in." -- Troy Lesesne Head Coach RBNY

The Red Bull stick with their lineup, despite both center backs on yellow cards and the failures of Tom Barlow. Ndam gets a header chance but flicks it wide, he knows he should've done better with the chance. The Red Bull continue to dominate in the final third but just can't find the net or beat the center referee. This official is so far out of position the press box can make better calls than he can. Another bad first touch by Barlow and that ends his night, Manoel enters for Barlow and Wiki Caroma enters for Cam Harper in the 58' of play. FCC is getting physical as they're well aware they can get away with murder tonight and not hear a peep from the center official. Casseres Jr. puts a tough ball on the goal, keeper punches it out but not a single Red Bull in space to hit the open net on the rebound chance 6 yards from the goal. Manoel does his best Tom Barlow impersonation and watches the ball bounce to the keeper after a bad first touch. The match should've been tied on multiple occasions by the Red Bull side, not sure what it will take tonight for this team to get a result. In the 63' Badji enters for FCC replacing the injured Kubo. Thank goodness Acosta was offside on that one or it would've been 2 - 0. The Red Bull got caught playing keep away in the midfield, the ref rewarded FCC with a free kick from 35 yards out after offside was called. So basically, FCC got an additional chance via no foul but gained an advantage off of an offside play they caused. The first yellow card issued to FCC takes place in the 69' when Arias is shown yellow after a hard foul. Red Bull makes a sub by bringing Burke on for Dru Yearwood. In the 72' FCC subs on Gaddis and Barreal for Arias and Pinto. The out-of-shape center finally makes I guess you can call it a sprint to talk to Acosta of FCC for what we have no idea, the play was nowhere near him. Now we see a phantom deflection called for an FCC corner, everyone is puzzled in the 76'. New York is set to make two more substitutions bringing on Luquinhas and Mullings for Stroud and D. Nealis in the 80'. Just before the substitutions Casseres Jr made a complete mess of a corner kick, it was played out for a throw-in. The Red Bull earns a free kick, and Tolkin finds Burke in the box he finds Sean Nealis in the air and the header goes just wide of the 2nd post. Instead of a yellow for delaying the restart the center talks to Kann the goalkeeper. In the 83' FCC brings on Moreno for Angulo, and Red Bull couldn't make anything of the throw-in in the final third. Red Bull counter and Manoel tries to hit Luquinhas at the 1st post and just missed by a hair. In the 85' the score remains 1 - 0 FCC, the Red Bulls have had many chances but still no results. The fans have had enough of tonight's center and are raining on him without mercy in the final minutes before added time. The perfect example of a referee who has no business being on the pitch, JMI and goalkeeper Ryan Meara were shown yellow cards after the brutal tackle by Badji. Badji is now also shown a yellow card for his part in the 89', the fans are now on their feet going at the center with a verbal tongue-lashing. The center shows a yellow to FCC Barreal and Belgium's Wonder Boy Scores to a loud crowd in the arena scores the equalizer and beats the center referee!!!!!! 1 - 1 Dante gets a warm reception following the goal. The goal was scored in the 90' + 2', and the crowd wants another fast. Dante almost delivers again making the keeper Kann go full extension to keep it out. FCC takes a cheap shot at Cory Burke, and he is still down, they're evaluating him for a head injury. He has to be removed and number 3 Nocita comes on for him, FCC takes off Hagglund for Akpunonu in the 90' + 7'. We will now head to two extra halves of play 15' each, if still tied then penalty shootout.

"You say it was very first of all, it's very tough to not be able to go in the second round, but as you said, I was very positive on the way I was able to read my opponent, but for Troy (Lesesne), he coached me last week or last couple of days to make sure that the cover my teammate, because I was not clean enough in a game in Toronto, so I make sure that I don't apply the same mistake and keep improving myself. So, as you said it was, I was very surprised myself and the support some of my teammates to help me continue to clean as a defensive player." -- Hassan Ndam center back RBNY

The 1st extra time is underway, here is a surprise another yellow card to a Red Bulls player this time Wiki Carmona is booked for playing soccer in the 99'. The fans have had it, tonight and are going nuts on the center yet again. Tonight, the Red Bulls will have to find a way to beat a referee to win the match. What is a whistle for jumping on a soccer pitch? The fourth shows 1' minimum added to extra time and Ndam nearly gave the boys in red the lead. Well, at least he knows how to blow a whistle.

"Carlos is actually quite good at taking penalties, so that was the thought process. He was going to be number six in the order and he wanted one. We want to let Ryan play the 120 minutes. I think it's a tactic that could have been used, to put Carlos in goal. But you know, Ryan is maybe a hand more to one of those penalties and he's got us back in the game. So yeah, we wanted him to see that whole match out." -- Troy Lesesne Head Coach RBNY

The second extra time is underway, in the words of the former Red Bull head coach this center referee is not sexy. Acosta with a shot from the left of the goal Ryan makes the save pushing it out for a corner kick. Tolkin almost finds the go-ahead goal, and Kann makes a big save, and corner-kick for the Red Bulls, the ball is played out of danger, Red Bulls counter but FCC recovers. Fans boo as Kann goes way over six seconds to play the ball again. Acosta is back on the ground diving again, Ref yells for him to stand up finally after 100'+ of play. Tolkin with another near miss this match, this time missing 2nd post. Of course, Kann takes his 20-second restart per usual. Dante earns a foul call 30 yards from the goal, quick start leads to a corner kick, it's cleared but O'Vonte keeps the pressure going. Tolkin with a sweet cross to O'Vonte who heads it to Donte, and he shoots the volley just wide of the 2nd post. Carlos Coronel is entering the match as a field player; Troy is not messing around. Carlos will enter for Nocita, not the injured Sean Nealis. It's worth noting Carlos is a good penalty taker and Nocita struggles at them. So it does make sense in a way but one has to wonder is Sean could step up if needed on that ankle right now. That's the end of extra time and we will go to penalties.

Penalty Kick Lineup:

New York Red Bulls FC Cincinnati

D. Vanzeir X L. Acosta O Elias Manoel O J. Moreno O W. Carmona O D. Badji O C. Cásseres Jr. O Y. Mosquera O N/A Á. Barreal O FC Cincinnati wins 5 to 3 on penalty kicks NY didn't take their last Penalty due to FCC going first and clinching the win.

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