CINCINNATI, Ohio (Aug. 23, 2022) – Fresh off their Inaugural Leagues Cup triumph on Saturday night, Inter Miami CF defeated FC Cincinnati 5-4 in penalty kicks following a dramatic 3-3 draw to advance to the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final in front of a sold-out crowd of 25,513 at TQL Stadium on Wednesday night.

With Inter Miami trailing 2-0 after the hour mark, reigning World Cup champion Lionel Messi twice connected with Leonardo Campana to force extra time. 2019 Open Cup champion Josef Martínez then slotted the Herons ahead 3-2 in the 93rd minute, only to have FC Cincinnati’s Yuya Kubo score a 114th minute equalizer to send the match to the penalty kick tie-breaker. In the shootout, Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender saved the fifth-round attempt from Cincinnati native Nick Hagglund, before Benjamin Cremaschi converted to send Inter Miami to its first U.S. Open Cup Final and second championship match of 2023.

With the result, Inter Miami will play the winner of Wednesday’s second semifinal between Houston Dynamo/Real Salt Lake in the Open Cup Final on Sept. 27 as the club looks to claim its second trophy of the year.

Despite a heat index temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, both teams played bravely through the first 15 minutes, showing good spells of possession and build-up toward goal. Spurred on by the home crowd, FC Cincinnati found the game’s first goal thanks to a moment of brilliance from Lucho Acosta in the 18th minute. Driving forward from the left flank, the Argentine attacker made a pass that pinged off Inter Miami’s Tomás Avilés and back off him to teammate Aaron Boupendza. The striker nodded on the ball at the top of the box, finding Acosta who had continued his run before hitting a left-footed effort past Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender and off the post for the go-ahead goal.

Looking to strike back, Inter Miami nearly equalized three minutes later when Messi slotted Diego Gómez into the penalty area, but the Paraguayan attacker’s shot was well turned away with a point-blank reaction save from FC Cincinnati goalkeeper Alec Kann.

Inter Miami mustered two more chances in first half stoppage time. After a spell of possession, Brazilian midfielder Jean Mota uncorked a 25-yard effort that curled left of Kann’s goal in the first minute of injury time. Two minutes later, USMNT full back DeAndre Yedlin cut inside from the right and found Gómez at the near post, but the Argentine’s header glanced wide of Cincinnati’s goal. 

The home side pushed passed the danger at the end of the first half and went up 2-0 through USMNT forward Brandon Vazquez in the opening stages of the second half. After absorbing pressure from the visitors, a line-breaking pass over the top of Miami’s defense found Santiago Arias on the right. Catching the opposition defenders in transition, Arias found an open Vazquez just outside the penalty area where the striker unleashed a powerful effort past Callender and inside the left post in the 53rd minute.

Galvanized by the two-goal deficit, Inter Miami struck back through a Messi set piece effort after Arias committed a foul on Facundo Farias on the left. Continuing to show his prowess from dead-ball situations, Messi lofted a picture-perfect free kick for Leonardo Campana who nodded home past Kann from six yards to halve the host’s lead in the 68th minute.

The Inter Miami pair connected again, nearly finding the equalizer from the run of play in the 83rd minute as Messi crossed to Campana from the left. The attacker brought the ball down and took another touch before firing his effort over the bar from eight yards out.

With Miami pushing for the equalizer, Cincinnati nearly put the game out of reach in the third minute of second-half stoppage time as substitute Sergio Santos crept in on the left flank and centered for Arias whose right-footed effort was turned out for a corner kick by Callender.

Down but never out, Inter Miami found the equalizer through the Messi-Campana connection in the seventh minute of second-half stoppage time. Working again from the left side of midfield, Messi found enough space to serve another pinpoint cross for Campana, who rose above everyone in the box to head home his second goal of the night and send the match to extra time.

Full of momentum from the late equalizer, Inter Miami took the lead just three minutes into extra time. A misplayed pass out of the back from FC Cincinnati came straight to Jordi Alba, who quickly moved the ball centrally for extra time substitute Benjamin Cremaschi. The 18-year-old Inter Miami Homegrown Player quickly slotted Josef Martínez into the area, where the Venezuelan striker fired a low blast past Kann to give Miami a 3-2 advantage.

FC Cincinnati thought they had an answer just seconds before the extra time break when Arias rose at the six-yard box to head the ball off the cross bar. Seconds later the team appealed for a penalty when Nick Hagglund’s shot deflected off Jordi Alba’s hand, but the Video Assistant Referee ruled the Spanish defender’s arm was in a natural position and no penalty was given.

FC Cincinnati stayed patient and found the tying goal through two substitutes in the 114th minute. Bret Hasley was sprung in down the left and sent a low cross into the area which was turned out by Inter Miami’s David Ruiz. Though cleared, the ball was played straight to Yuya Kubo, who first-timed his chance past Callender to knot things up at 3-3 and force penalty kicks.

After all eight players converted their spot kicks through the first four rounds of the shootout, it was Callender who again played hero for Inter Miami. Just five days after saving two penalties to help the club win the Leagues Cup against Nashville SC, Callender got low to his left to deny Hagglund’s spot kick in the fifth round. With the advantage at hand, Cremaschi stepped up and buried his spot kick to send Inter Miami to its first U.S. Open Cup Final and second championship match of 2023.



Match: FC Cincinnati vs. Inter Miami CF

Date: August 23, 2023

Competition: Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinal

Venue: TQL Stadium; Cincinnati, Ohio

Attendance: 25,513 (sellout)

Kickoff: 7:05 p.m. ET

Weather: 83 degrees; Partly cloudy


Scoring Summary:   1          2          OT         F            PKs

CIN                             1          1          1             3             4

MIA                             0          2          1             3             5


CIN – Luciano Acosta (Aaron Boupendza)                     18th minute
CIN – Brandon Vazquez (Santiago Arias)                       53

MIA – Leonardo Campana (Lionel Messi)                       68

MIA – Leonardo Campana (Lionel Messi)                       90+7

MIA – Josef Martínez (Benjamin Cremaschi)                  93

CIN – Yuya Kubo                                                             114


CIN: Yuya Kubo – goal, Santiago Arias – goal, Sergio Santos – goal, Matt Miazga – goal, Nick Hagglund – saved


MIA: Lionel Messi – goal, Facundo Farías – goal, David Ruiz – goal, Josef Martínez – goal, Benjamin Cremaschi – goal



CIN1-Alec Kann; 4-Nick Hagglund, 5-Obinna Nwobodo, 9-Aaron Boupendza (7-Yuya Kubo, 62), 10-Luciano Acosta (Capt.) (28-Raymon Gaddis, 89), 13-Santiago Arias, 19-Brandon Vazquez (17-Sergio Santos, 78), 21-Matt Miazga, 31-Álvaro Barreal (42-Bret Halsey 105), 32-Ian Murphy (2-Alvas Powell, 88), 93-Junior Moreno (8-Marco Angulo, 89)

Substitutes not used: 18-Roman Celentano

Head coach: Patrick Noonan


MIA1-Drake Callender, 2-DeAndre Yedlin (11-Facundo Farías, 58), 5-Sergio Busquets, 6-Tomás Avilés (32-Noah Allen, 78), 7-Jean Mota (41-David Ruiz, 58), 8-Diego Gómez (17-Josef Martínez, 78), 9-Leonardo Campana (30-Benjamin Cremaschi, 91), 10-Lionel Messi (Capt.), 18-Jordi Alba, 27-Sergii Kryvtsov, 31-Kamal Miller (16-Robert Taylor, 58)

Substitutes not used: 29-CJ Dos Santos

Head coach: Gerardo Martino


Stats Summary: CIN / MIA

Shots: 22 / 11

Shots on Goal: 9 / 6

Saves: 3 / 6

Corner Kicks: 6 / 2

Fouls:22 / 18

Offside: 2 / 0


Misconduct Summary:

MIA – Jordi Alba (caution)                       24th minute
CIN – Obinna Nwobodo (caution)        31
MIA – Jean Mota (caution)                      41

MIA – Tomás Avilés (caution)                70

MIA – Sergii Kryvtsov (caution)             80

MIA – Gerardo Martino (caution)          80

CIN – Luciano Acosta (caution)            85

CIN – Álvaro Barreal (caution)               90



Referee: Joseph Dickerson

Assistant Referee 1: Luis Uranga

Assistant Referee 2: Andrew Bigelow

4th Official: Eric Tattersall

VAR: Kevin Terry Jr.

Assistant VAR: Thomas Supple

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