Ricardo Silva Stadium – There was exactly one quarter finals match left in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and this, boys and girls, was it. Miami decided to remind everyone last time just what it’s capable of. Biblical thunderstorms rained down over Riccardo Silva Stadium on Wednesday, July 12th as Miami FC and FC Cincinnati tried to play this match. It wouldn’t really let up and the powers that be had to re-schedule this baby to three weeks later. So today, with a chance to host the New York Red Bulls in the semi finals on the line, the Florida rains allowed this one to take place.

As the only two non-MLS teams left in the tournament, Miami and Cincinnati battled for the unofficial Division II crown with the USL and NASL represented respectively. Both franchises fancy themselves among the premier in North America, organizationally and on the field. Well, evenly matched it was. The expectations of a tight game were met right in the first half.

Stefano Pinho

Miami, a team that after winning the NASL spring season championship just started their fall campaign, loss last Saturday at the New York Cosmos. A small hiatus from the pitch had them jumping right back into it with this Open Cup match four days after their previous game. Cincy also came off a loss to the Rochester Rhinos and had the same turnaround, only traveling to the 305 for today’s match-up. The aforementioned first half went about as could be expected. Possession clocked its time in with both teams. Mostly a defensive half, Miami really seemed lackluster or lethargic as their chances were scarce and Cincinnati seemed like the better squad. The chances were not there, the shots on goal were held to zero. In fact, following the match, Michael Lahoud was asked why his team came out a bit flat. His response, “that’s a good question, I wish I had a good answer.”

Rhett Berstein (left) fights for position on a corner kick

The second half featured a team in blue and orange a bit more like the one we saw most spring. Pretty soccer from the home team saw the ball get deep in the zone plenty as the passes led to crosses, Poku once again exuded superiority on the pitch in the middle, and the Cincinnati defense was tested. Alas, ’tis the stupid goal that makes the difference in this one. High quality soccer made very little change on the scoreboard – none, actually -, but in the 68th minute, Justin Hoyte dribbled it down the left side of the box and hit a baseline-bouncer that found Dijby Fall for the tap that got past Mason Trafford and Daniel Vega (he got plenty of ball, but it still squirted through him). It was one of those surreal moments when you don’t exactly know what just happened, but reality sets in and the shitty taste in your mouth lets you know it wasn’t good. A late-game surge attempt by the insertion of Ariel Martinez and Poku’s one-man show were not enough to equalize, close as they were.

That fucking goal would prove the difference in this one and the thing that stopped Miami’s run in the Open Cup, including the chance to host the Red Bulls in the semis. Such is life, my friends. Miami’s run should not and will not be diminished by this outcome. Incredible games and path through the cup that featured defeating several MLS teams and the exposure that put 10, 415 asses in the stands today was nothing short of amazing. This isn’t solely about one game, something bigger is at play here. As stated in the post-game presser, “soccer works in Miami.”

For a complete photo gallery of this game, please CLICK HERE.

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Enrique Sierra
Enrique Sierra, Jr. is a writer, editor, and podcast co-host for Lemon City Live. A Miami, Florida sports fanatic just trying to live the dream.

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