Soccer

Miami FC hosts Cincinnati in rescheduled Open Cup game

Miami FC players celebrate their 2017 NASL Spring Season championship.
Miami FC players celebrate their 2017 NASL Spring Season championship. MIAMI HERALD

Three weeks after their U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal was postponed due to heavy storms, Miami FC and FC Cincinnati are scheduled to play the makeup game Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. at FIU Riccardo Silva Stadium – weather permitting.

Good news for both teams, and fans: The torrential rain and lightning that nailed South Florida on Tuesday are expected to be gone by Wednesday morning. The forecast calls for a clear night.

The winner will host Major League Soccer team New York Red Bulls Aug. 9 and become the first non-MLS team to reach an Open Cup semifinal since the Richmond Kickers did it in 2011.

Both teams play in second-division leagues and advanced to this stage with back-to-back upsets of MLS opponents. For one team, the fairytale will go on.

“It was very frustrating not being able to get that game in (July 12),” said Miami FC midfielder Michael Lahoud. “We had just come off the most memorable performance, absolutely steamrolling San Francisco 7-0 to win the Spring league title, so we were ready to play that night. But this is a significant character moment for our team, having to play a makeup game, a chance to become that much more battle-tested.”

He said it was especially disappointing because an expected record-crowd of over 10,000 had purchased tickets. All ticket holders from that game will be admitted on Wednesday night, and those who lost their tickets can get them reissued by calling 844-MIAMIFC.

Miami FC defender Mason Trafford hopes they benefit from spillover of the buzz surrounding last Saturday’s El Clasico Miami match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

“The Clasico is a world-famous soccer event, and it set the city abuzz and just proves there is a huge market of soccer-loving people in Miami,” Trafford said. “I think if we can get the people out to see our games, they’ll realize that the product that Miami FC puts on the field is maybe not El Clasico level, but it’s really good, entertaining soccer, and we have quality players, so I hope they’ll come out.”

The crowd will see a contrast in styles – Miami FC’s stylish offense against Cincinnati’s stingy defense.

Miami, under the direction of Italian legend Alessandro Nesta, has outscored its Cup opponents 11-5 in four matches. Brazilian forward Stefano Pinho had a hat trick against MLS club Orlando City.

Cincinnati, meanwhile, has not conceded a goal in regulation thus far in the tournament.

Both teams are coming off league losses, Miami to the New York Cosmos and Cincinnati to Rochester. Lahoud called it “a wakeup call” for his team, a reminder that “everyone brings their best game” against Miami.

“We’re under no illusions as to how difficult a task it is,” Cincinnati coach Alan Koch said before the originally-scheduled game. “Going to play Miami at Miami, they’re almost as good, if not better than the majority of MLS teams this year.”

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