Upstart soccer team FC Cincinnati continues to thrill fans and draw record crowds. More than 32,000 - 32,287 to be exact - turned out Wednesday night to watch the second-tier United Soccer League (USL) side take on the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer (MLS) in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 16.
Cincinnati beat Chicago in penalty kicks after 90 minutes of regular time and 30 minutes of overtime.
The team was eager to pull out another win, fresh on the heels of upsetting the MLS's Columbus Crew SC on June 14. The final score Wednesday night was 3-1 (AET, after extra time) in a game that was forced into overtime by a nil-nil score line after 90 minutes.
FC Cincinnati will face Miami FC of the NASL in the Open Cup quarterfinals July 12 in Miami.
Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch says he proud of the team and the club. "I'm also equally proud of the city of Cincinnati. That passion, you don't get that in many places, and there's a lot of passion in our sport around the world. That was pretty unique tonight."
The game was nationally televised on ESPN, adding more credence to an article posted Tuesday on USsoccer.com dubbing Cincinnati "the capital of American soccer."
The two teams are from different leagues but were playing in the U.S. Open Cup, a tournament open to professional and amateur teams. It's the oldest cup soccer tournament in the United States. It's also the second longest continually operating tournament in the world, according to Josh Hakala who runs The Cup, a website that tracks the Open Cup.
Wednesday night's crowd is the second largest modern-era crowd for a U.S. Open Cup match. The Cup reports the largest was 35,615 set by the Seattle Sounders in the 2011 final.