Pat Noonan reflects on FC Cincinnati’s US Open Cup semi-final loss to Inter Miami

FC Cincinnati were outplayed by Inter Miami and Lionel Messi in the US Open Cup semi-finals, losing in 4-5 in penalties after a 3-3 draw in extra time.

The Eastern Conference team were 2-0 up on the visiting Herons, and looked destined to progress to the final until Messi made his mark in the game. The 36-year-old would not give up, as he curled in a perfect cross to Leonardo Campana in the 97th minute to level the game at the end of regulation.

While Messi didn’t get on the scoresheet, he still assisted both of Miami’s goals that were scored in regulation, proving that he was the best player on the pitch once again. In extra time, the Herons went in front via a low-driven striker from Josef Martinez, but Yuya Kubo’s 114th minute wonder strike was enough to bring the game to a penalty shootout.

The south Florida club would go on to prevail in penalties, 5-4, and are could bring home their second trophty in club history later next month.

“This one hurts,” Noonan said following the dramatic game. “They’re gutted … they put a lot into it and we were in position to advance to a final and came up short. So the guys are struggling with this one, as they should be.”

Noonan made a flurry of substitutions before the end of regulation, as it looked like the home side were going to hold on for a huge result to advance to the final. But it wasn’t meant to be, and Noonan was forced to take off players like Luciano Acosta and Brandon Vazquez due to fixture congestion and player burnout.

“We made some adjustments that we weren’t expecting to,” said Noonan. “But I still thought we were in a position to see out the game.”

After the heartbreaking loss at TQP Stadium, Cincy, who currently lead the Supporters’ Shield and Eastern Conference table with 51 points, will have the opportunity to rebound back in MLS action on August 26, when they host New York Red Bulls.

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