The fourth round of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup kicked off this week, with several MLS teams joining the fray. The Philadelphia Union and D.C. United advanced, while New England Revolution suffered an upset to Louisville City FC. The Loons looked to avoid the same fate as New England in their matchup against FC Cincinnati, the newest addition to MLS, on June 6.
The Loons started the match with several familiar faces in the lineup, but with a relatively new 4-3-3 formation.
How the fellas look tonight in the Queen City— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) June 6, 2018
4-3-3 | #ScarvesUpMN | #USOC2018 pic.twitter.com/Gfeh0TkDg7
This line up would last less than 15 minutes - Eric Miller went down with what appeared to be cramps in the 12th minute and was replaced by Carter Manley. Miller’s early exit, while hopefully precautionary, is still worrying as cramps are an uncharacteristic injury in what was the relatively cool weather.
The first real chance of the game came in the 28th minute. Russell Cicerone received a cross from the opposite side of the pitch and struck the ball on the half-volley. Luckily for Minnesota, the shot was directly at Bobby Shuttleworth who was able to parry the ball away.
Soon after, Maximiano was able to put a shot on target that was just barely pushed wide by FC Cincinnati keeper Spencer Richey. Richey was able to get a fingertip to the shot after diving to his right and fully extending on the turf.
The remainder of the first half remained fruitless for the Loons. Every time they were able to build up what looked like a promising attack, the compact defending of FC Cincinnati forced them to turn back and play the ball to at least the back four, if not Shuttleworth. Minnesota was able to control much of the play in the first half but went into the locker room with two fewer shots than FC Cincinnati.
#CINvMIN | @StarTribune pic.twitter.com/ftxpAOcnqQ— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) June 7, 2018
The next best chance for Cincinnati came in the 54th minute. Midfielder Corben Bone played a cross into the penalty area that was a bit behind Emery Welshman who was able to make contact but put the ball wide. The chance would have been problematic for the Loons had it been a better cross.
The match began to get a bit chippy in the 62nd minute when Christian Ramirez caught a high boot to the face, earning no call from the referee. A minute later, following an FC Cincinnati corner, Michael Boxall received a bloody lip after catching a hand to the face from Dekel Keinan, which also earned no call from center referee Eric Tattersall. Boxall was visibly upset and was consequently booed for the remainder of the match for his show of emotion. Ramirez gained a bit of retribution for his captain a few minutes later when he elbowed Keinan in the face while trying to win a header. Ramirez was called for a foul but did not go into Tattersall’s book.
The remainder of regulation time opened up a bit and Maximiano and Collen Warner received yellow cards for two separate incidents where they were each forced to commit tactical fouls to stop Cincinnati’s counter-attack.
90 minutes elapsed with neither side able to break the deadlock. The additional 30 minutes of extra time would play out much the same way. Each team was able to build up a bit of an attack, but neither team was able to capitalize on any of the chances they generated.
Spoiler alert: the Loons showed their superior quality during the penalty shootout.
B BBY TIME pic.twitter.com/B2xqe2GLfA— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) June 7, 2018
The Loons were able to hold FC Cincinnati to four rounds in the shootout, with Ramirez, Martin, and Kallman beating Richey from the spot. Shuttleworth was able to save shots from Sem De Wit and Nazmi Albadawi, while Kenney Walker sent a shot off the crossbar.
After 120+ minutes, Minnesota United defeated FC Cincinnati 3-1 on penalty kicks.
The Loons will find out who they play in the next round of the U.S Open Cup after the draw on June 7th.