Inter Miami CF defeated FC Cincinnati in penalties to advance to the US Open Cup Finals. This team continues to impress. Once again, Miami was the road team visiting a packed TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.
This was going to be Inter Miami CF’s biggest challenge being that FC Cincinnati currently has the best record in all of the MLS.
Coming into the match Tata Martino, completely changed the formation we have all been used to during League Cup play. He implemented a 5-3-2 formation which was brand new for the players. Along with the formation change he also made a couple of lineup changes to the starting 11.
Leonardo Campana started over Josef Martinez. Jean Mota got the start coming back from an injury that kept him off the pitch for some time. Diego Gomez started over Cremaschi. And, the newly acquired defender, Tomas Aviles, made his debut for Inter Miami.
At the commencement of the match, Inter Miami looked to greatly struggle with the new formation. They were doing a great job of retaining possession but looked lost and disconnected.
FC Cincinnati Score First
FC Cincinnati took complete advantage and took the first punch. They took the lead off of a Luciano Acosta Goal in the 18th minute of the game. It was definitely a bad break for Inter Miami. The ball bounced off the faces of several Inter Miami players near their box as if it were a pinball, and landed near Acosta who was able to strike the ball.
Even the Acosta strike looked like another round of pinball. It struck the foot of Kamal Miller, hit the inside goalpost, and then crossed the goal line.
Inter Miami continued to struggle for the rest of the first half. Jean Mota in particular looked confused and out of place. It was clear to see that he had been off for some time and displayed a great amount of rust. Diego Gomez also had his struggles.
He is a bit of an erratic player who struggles to make good decisions. He also lacks vision which causes him to make bad passes or to miss great runs made by his teammates.
Toward the end of the first half, Yedlin was open and was making a beautiful run down the side of the field and Diego completely missed him.
FC Cincinnati Double Their Lead
To everyone’s surprise, Tata Martino continued the game with the same starting 11 even though they were a complete disaster during the first half.
In the 53rd minute of the game, Cincinnati struck again to double their lead. They made a gorgeous counter-attack which had the backline at a 4 vs. 3 disadvantage. The wingman crossed it at an angle toward the top of the box. Brandon Vazquez was wide open. He received the ball and struck it toward the far post, giving Cincinnati their second goal.
Inter Miami Stay Alive With a 68th-Minute Goal
Shortly after Cincy scored their second goal, Tata Martino finally made some roster changes. Being down by two goals forced him to take off three defensive players in Yedlin, Miller, and the struggling Mota with three offensive-minded players. Robert Taylor, David Ruiz, and newly acquired Facundo Farias were brought into the game.
Facundo Farias immediately impacted the game with his speed, aggression, and pressure. The fresh legs of Ruiz and Taylor helped with moving the ball up the field and making good offensive decisions.
Farias’s speed and pressure won a free-kick near the box for Inter Miami in the 67th minute. None other than Lionel Messi stood over the ball and made a gorgeous pass to the head of Leonardo Campana.
Campana redirected the ball to the back of the net to give Miami their first goal.
The Messi and Campana Combination Tie the Game for Inter Miami
FC Cincinnati responded by continuing to attack and create goal-scoring opportunities. A goal that they scored in the 71st minute did not count due to a handball incident. Shortly after, FC Cincinnati threatened again with several well-taken shots and crosses into the box.
Luckily, Miami’s goalkeeper and their back line were able to prevent Cincy from scoring again for the remainder of the second half.
In the 78th and 89th minutes, FC Cincinnati made an interesting decision. Cincy’s best strikers Vazquez and Acosta were subbed off.
Inter Miami also made some changes to inject life into its offense. In the 78th minute, Josef Martinez came on.
With about 1 minute left in the game, deep into stoppage time, Lionel Messi struck again. He made an impossible pass from about 30 yards out to Leonardo Campana who was near the goal.
The pass was so perfect that it came right to the head of Campana who just had to guide the ball into the back of the net. Inter Miami CF tied the game and forced extra time.
Otro más de Leo para Leo en el minuto 97! 🤯🔥 pic.twitter.com/5n5JMsjS1T— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) August 24, 2023
Cremaschi Pass, Josef Goal!
At the commencement of extra time, Tata once again wanted to inject some life into its team with an offensive-minded player. Cremaschi was brought in for Leonardo Campana who was able to secure a brace.
In the 92nd minute of the game, Cremaschi received and turned the ball in the center of the field at about the 30-yard line. With 4 defenders closing in on him, he spotted Josef Martinez making a run into the box.
At the last second, Cremaschi made a gorgeous through pass that threaded two Cincy defenders. He led Josef with the pass. Josef was able to sprint toward the ball and strike it toward the goalkeeper who had a wide stance. The ball went under the goalkeeper’s legs and struck the back of the net to give Miami the lead.
FC Cincinnati Strike Back and Force Penalties
As if this game wasn’t already filled with drama, Yuya Kubo of FC Cincinnati wanted to add a little bit more. In the dying minutes of extra time, Kubo was able to make a gorgeous shot from the top of the box and placed it in the top right corner of the goal.
Inter Miami was unable to answer which led to the game ending in a tie and forcing both teams to face off in penalties.
Kubo levels it! pic.twitter.com/8soXsZt5PL— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) August 24, 2023
Cremaschi Seals Inter Miami Victory in Penalties
Inter Miami CF came against all odds and beat FC Cincinnati with a dramatic comeback win. Drake Callender, in penalties, was able to block Cincy’s 5th penalty-taker leaving the door open for a Miami win.
Inter Miami CF was one goal away from advancing to the US Open Cup Final and it was all riding on the back of 18-year-old Benjamin Cremaschi. He struck the ball with confidence and made the goal which secured Miami’s victory and left FC Cincinnati along with its fans in a state of unbelief.
Inter Miami CF struggled greatly in this game but somehow found a way to overcome all adversity and come out with a win. This team seems to be unstoppable when the big three Messi, Busquets, and Alba are on the pitch.
They qualified to play in the finals of the US Open Cup and will face Houston Dynamo FC in front of their home fans in South Florida. The Dynamo beat Real Salt Lake 3-1. The final is slated to take place on September 27th, 2023.
Inter Miami CF currently remains undefeated during the Messi era and now has a very steep uphill road with the remainder of the regular season. Miami finds itself as the last-place team in all of MLS.
Inter Miami has 12 regular season games left and is 14 points away from the last playoff spot that would allow them to continue their season past the regular season.
Will Inter Miami win its second trophy in team history on the 27th of September? Let us know in the comments below.