FC Cincinnati and Sacramento Republic FC, two USL clubs very much in the hunt for MLS expansion teams, made a case for their bids both on and off the field with wins over MLS clubs before big crowds in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup.
FC Cincinnati drew a crowd of 30,160 at Nippert Stadium -- a new record for a non-final Open Cup match -- for its 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew,
while Sac Republic attracted a sellout crowd of 11,569 at Papa Murphy's Park for its 4-1 win over Real Salt Lake, its first ever win over an MLS club in a competitive match.
Of the two
performances, FC Cincinnati's was the more impressive. Senegalese globetrotter Djiby Fall broke a scoreless tie in the 64th minute to give FC Cincinnati' the victory in its first meeting with
the Crew, which started such stars as Federico Higuain, Justin Meram and captain Wil Trapp.
Struggling RSL, on the other hand, started a combination of first-team youngsters and three players called up for the USL Real Monarchs, and it
showed as Sac Republic raced out to a 3-1 lead at the half on goals by
Trevin Caesar, Agustin Cazarez and former MLS player Jeremy Hall.
The win was the first
for Sac Republic against MLS opposition after a pair of losses to the San Jose Earthquakes.
RSL coach Mike Petke said the goal was to give first-team players and Monarchs players a
chance ahead of Saturday's MLS game against Minnesota United.
"And how do I think they did? We lost 4-1," he said. "So they weren't up for it like Sacramento was. We talked all week about
how this is Sacramento's World Cup. We have to match them there. We talked about specifics and it played out the way we said we don't want it to play out."
ROUND OF 16. The draw for the round of 16 (which will set the bracket for the rest of the tournament) takes place Thursday at 11 a.m. ET. it will be streamed live on U.S. Soccer's Facebook page.