CINCINNATI — It was a meeting of old adversaries in Cincinnati on Wednesday night, as Major League Soccer’s FC Cincinnati played host to the USL Championship’s Louisville City FC in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
But despite it being major league competition against lower league, it would take 120 minutes of soccer and an extra-time goal from Kekuta Manneh to see the hosts down their Dirty River Derby rivals. FC Cincinnati won 2-1 over Louisville City.
Once fierce foes during the FCC’s days in the USL, the fourth-round draw paired the two together for the first time since Cincinnati’s move to MLS. The last time the club’s met was in rain-delayed 1-0 FC Cincinnati win at Louisville Slugger Field in September 2018. And with Cincy win-less in their last four league matches, a win against their old nemeses would be valuable for several reasons.
The 2019 edition of the derby, however, would get off to a slow start for the Orange and Blue. A heavy press from Louisville left the hosts struggling to build in possession, but a breakthrough would come from what’s developed into the most unlikely of places.
After going scoreless in his previous 8 appearances this season, Fanendo Adi finally bagged an all-important goal — for both the club and himself. Louisville’s Alexis Souahy mishandled a backpass at the top of his own box, allowing Adi to muscle in for a one-on-one for City keeper Chris Hubbard. He calmly nutmegged the keeper from a narrow angle in the 23rd-minute for his first goal of 2019.
But just seven minutes later, the visitors pulled themselves level by capitalizing on a Cincinnati giveaway in the back. Louisville’s press forced an errant back pass from Ulloa, allowing Magnus Rasmussen space in the box to slot a dangerous ball across the FC Cincinnati goal face. Zimbabwean striker Lucky Mkosana was there to meet the cross, smashing it past an outstretched Przemysław Tytoń to make it 1-1.
Jun 12, 2019; Cincinnati, OH, USA; FC Cincinnati midfielder Frankie Amaya (left) and forward Kekuta Manneh (back) celebrate the goal scored by forward Fanendo Adi (9) against Louisville City FC in the first half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
The teams would spend the rest of regulation exchanging periods of dominance and looks at goal. Forrest Lasso nearly gave the hosts a lead with a header that careened off the post just after halftime. And FC Cincinnati dodged a bullet with a Louisville penalty appeal around the hour mark, but an apparent handball on Nick Hagglund went uncalled. Neither side could find a winner though, and as such, extra time would be required.
The deadlock would finally be broken in the 104th minute. Emmanuel Ledesma — who had been active throughout the night — swung in a cross from the right, and the Gambian forward Manneh was there to smash home a header.
With the win, FC Cincinnati advance to the fifth round of the Open Cup for the third time in the club’s young history. They’ll learn their opponents in the next round in a draw conducted at the U.S. Soccer House in Chicago on Thursday.