Inter Miami CF, fresh from their recent triumph in the Inaugural Leagues Cup, showcased their mettle by clinching a nail-biting victory against FC Cincinnati with a 5-4 win in penalty kicks, following an intense 3-3 draw. This hard-fought victory secured their spot in the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final. The gripping match unfolded in front of a sold-out audience of 25,513 at TQL Stadium on a Wednesday night.
The match had its share of twists and turns. Despite trailing 2-0 past the one-hour mark, Inter Miami made an incredible comeback. World Cup champion Lionel Messi played a pivotal role, connecting with Leonardo Campana twice to bring the game to extra time. In the 93rd minute, Josef Martínez, the 2019 Open Cup champion, swung the game in favor of the Herons by scoring, making it 3-2. However, FC Cincinnati’s Yuya Kubo dashed their hopes by netting an equalizer in the 114th minute, forcing the game into a penalty shootout.
The shootout was a test of nerves, with Miami’s goalkeeper Drake Callender emerging as the hero. He saved a crucial penalty from Cincinnati native Nick Hagglund in the fifth round, turning the tide in Miami’s favor. Benjamin Cremaschi capitalized on the advantage by converting his spot kick, propelling Inter Miami to their first-ever U.S. Open Cup Final and their second championship match of 2023.
This victory has earned Inter Miami a berth in the Open Cup Final scheduled for September 27, where they will face the winner of the second semifinal between Houston Dynamo and Real Salt Lake. The club is vying for its second trophy of the year.
Despite scorching temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit, both teams exhibited remarkable determination in the initial 15 minutes, showcasing impressive possession and attacking build-up. Energized by their home crowd, FC Cincinnati broke the deadlock in the 18th minute with a stunning play by Lucho Acosta. The Argentine attacker initiated a pass that deflected off Inter Miami’s Tomás Avilés and landed back to Aaron Boupendza. Boupendza’s header found Acosta, who capitalized on the opportunity by unleashing a left-footed shot past Miami’s goalkeeper, Drake Callender, and into the net.
Inter Miami mounted a spirited response, nearly equalizing three minutes later. Messi orchestrated a pass that set up Diego Gómez inside the penalty area. However, FC Cincinnati’s goalkeeper Alec Kann displayed remarkable reflexes to deny Gómez’s close-range attempt.
Inter Miami continued to press for opportunities in the first half stoppage time. Brazilian midfielder Jean Mota unleashed a powerful shot from 25 yards out, but the ball veered left of Kann’s goal. Moments later, USMNT full back DeAndre Yedlin cut inside from the right flank and found Gómez, but the Argentine’s header missed the target.
FC Cincinnati extended their lead to 2-0 in the early stages of the second half through USMNT forward Brandon Vazquez. After enduring pressure from the visitors, a well-placed pass over Miami’s defensive line reached Santiago Arias on the right. Arias fed a pass to Vazquez, who released a formidable shot past Callender and inside the left post in the 53rd minute.
Undeterred by the two-goal deficit, Inter Miami rallied back with Messi’s expertise in set pieces. Messi’s perfectly lofted free kick found Leonardo Campana, who headed the ball past Kann from six yards out, narrowing the host’s lead in the 68th minute.
The Messi-Campana connection struck again, this time almost equalizing in the 83rd minute. Messi’s precise cross from the left met Campana’s effort, but the shot sailed over the bar from eight yards out.
With Miami fervently pursuing the equalizer, FC Cincinnati came close to sealing the match in the third minute of second-half stoppage time. Substitute Sergio Santos infiltrated the left flank and delivered a cross to Arias, whose right-footed shot was parried for a corner kick by Callender.
Nonetheless, Inter Miami showcased resilience and found the equalizer through the Messi-Campana combination in the seventh minute of second-half stoppage time. Messi’s precise cross from the left found Campana, who rose above the defenders to head home his second goal of the night, forcing the game into extra time.
Riding the momentum from the late equalizer, Inter Miami surged ahead within three minutes of extra time. An errant pass from FC Cincinnati’s defense landed at the feet of Jordi Alba, who swiftly redirected the ball to Benjamin Cremaschi. The 18-year-old Inter Miami Homegrown Player promptly set up Josef Martínez inside the penalty area, where the Venezuelan striker fired a low shot past Kann, giving Miami a 3-2 lead.
FC Cincinnati maintained patience and found the equalizing goal in the 114th minute through two substitutes. Bret Hasley sent in a low cross from the left, which was deflected out by Miami’s David Ruiz. The cleared ball fell to Yuya Kubo, who swiftly capitalized on the opportunity and slotted his shot past Callender, leveling the score at 3-3 and leading to the decisive penalty shootout.
As the shootout progressed, all eight players successfully converted their spot kicks through the first four rounds. In the fifth round, it was once again Callender who rose to the occasion for Inter Miami. Just five days after his crucial penalty saves in the Leagues Cup against Nashville SC, Callender made a pivotal save by diving to his left to deny Hagglund’s penalty kick. Capitalizing on the advantage, Cremaschi confidently stepped up and converted his spot kick, securing Inter Miami’s berth in the U.S. Open Cup Final, marking their second championship match of 2023.
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Match Report
Match: FC Cincinnati vs. Inter Miami CF
Date: August 23, 2023
Competition: Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinal
Venue: TQL Stadium; Cincinnati, Ohio
Attendance: 25,513 (sold out)
Kickoff: 7:05 p.m. ET
Weather: 83 degrees; partly cloudy
- CIN – Luciano Acosta (Aaron Boupendza) – 18th minute
- CIN – Brandon Vazquez (Santiago Arias) – 53
- MIA – Leonardo Campana (Lionel Messi) – 68
- MIA – Leonardo Campana (Lionel Messi) – 90+7
- MIA – Josef Martínez (Benjamin Cremaschi) – 93
- CIN – Yuya Kubo – 114
In an intense match between CIN and MIA, both teams showcased their skills on the field, resulting in an eventful game with multiple goals and card-worthy moments.
The scorecard reflected a flurry of goals:
- Yuya Kubo secured a goal.
- Santiago Arias demonstrated his prowess with a goal.
- Sergio Santos added to the scoreboard with a goal.
- Matt Miazga made a notable contribution with a goal.
Notably, Nick Hagglund from CIN was able to prevent a goal with a saved attempt.
MIA responded with a strong offensive performance, with the following players scoring goals:
- Lionel Messi showcased his iconic style with a goal.
- Facundo Farías joined the ranks with a goal.
- David Ruiz added another goal to MIA’s tally.
- Josef Martínez displayed his skill with a goal.
- Benjamin Cremaschi secured a goal for the team.
Now, let’s take a look at the lineups of both teams:
CIN’s lineup: 1-Alec Kann; 4-Nick Hagglund, 5-Obinna Nwobodo, 9-Aaron Boupendza (7-Yuya Kubo, 62), 10-Luciano Acosta (Capt.) (28-Raymon Gaddis, 89), 13-Santiago Arias, 19-Brandon Vazquez (17-Sergio Santos, 78), 21-Matt Miazga, 31-Álvaro Barreal (42-Bret Halsey 105), 32-Ian Murphy (2-Alvas Powell, 88), 93-Junior Moreno (8-Marco Angulo, 89)
Substitutes not used: 18-Roman Celentano Head coach: Patrick Noonan
MIA’s lineup: 1-Drake Callender, 2-DeAndre Yedlin (11-Facundo Farías, 58), 5-Sergio Busquets, 6-Tomás Avilés (32-Noah Allen, 78), 7-Jean Mota (41-David Ruiz, 58), 8-Diego Gómez (17-Josef Martínez, 78), 9-Leonardo Campana (30-Benjamin Cremaschi, 91), 10-Lionel Messi (Capt.), 18-Jordi Alba, 27-Sergii Kryvtsov, 31-Kamal Miller (16-Robert Taylor, 58)
Substitutes not used: 29-CJ Dos Santos Head coach: Gerardo Martino
Here’s a quick glance at the statistical summary for the match:
Shots: CIN 22 / MIA 11 Shots on Goal: CIN 9 / MIA 6 Saves: CIN 3 / MIA 6 Corner Kicks: CIN 6 / MIA 2 Fouls: CIN 22 / MIA 18 Offside: CIN 2 / MIA 0
Additionally, there were several caution-worthy moments during the match:
- Jordi Alba received a caution in the 24th minute.
- Jean Mota was cautioned in the 41st minute.
- Tomás Avilés received a caution in the 70th minute.
- Sergii Kryvtsov was cautioned in the 80th minute.
- Gerardo Martino, the head coach of MIA, was also cautioned in the 80th minute.
- Obinna Nwobodo was cautioned in the 31st minute.
- Luciano Acosta received a caution in the 85th minute.
- Álvaro Barreal received a caution in the 90th minute.
This match showcased both teams’ determination and skill, resulting in an exciting game with plenty of action on the field.