If there’s any consolation for Minnesota United after a 4-1 loss at Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, it’s that at least the Loons won’t be back there a couple days later for a U.S. Open Cup match like last season.
Instead of reliving those losses, United traveled straight to Ohio on Monday in preparation for a match against FC Cincinnati, a United Soccer League team, at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Nippert Stadium.
On a typical game day, the second-division squad will fill that University of Cincinnati stadium with about 20,000 people. Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup game should be no different, especially with a Major League Soccer team in town and with Cincinnati recently announced to be joining that top division next season as an expansion team.
“We know what’s going to be happening. We know what’s coming our way,” United coach Adrian Heath said. “It’s not going to be a shock, what’s coming our way. It’s going to be a big crowd on the back of their announcement last week. They’re going to be after it as they were last year when they went all the way to the semis. So it’s going to be a tough night. We have to be ready for it.”
In last season’s Open Cup, Cincinnati knocked out two MLS teams before losing in the semifinals. United backup goalkeeper Matt Lampson played the quarterfinal game that his former team, the Chicago Fire, lost on penalty kicks at Nippert Stadium in front of 32,287 fans.
The Ohio native said he was working hard to return from a knee injury to play this game and it looks likely, since he was on the bench against Kansas City.
Heath said last week he was anticipating a mix of starting-caliber players — such as outside back Tyrone Mears and forwards Christian Ramirez and Abu Danladi — and bench players for his Open Cup lineup since the team will have about a week off after Wednesday.
Center back Brent Kallman said the team doesn’t know whom Heath will select for the squad, so everyone just needs to recover and be ready for this “huge” game.
“We’ve got a big break coming up,” Kallman said. “I mean, I know me, personally, I’m looking forward to the break. I know a lot of the guys are. So all the focus is on this next game, and we know that we’ve got days off afterward. So there’s no excuses. Everybody’s got to be focused on Wednesday.”
Fellow center back Michael Boxall was pretty dejected after the loss Sunday. But a quick turnaround might be the best remedy for that mood.
“We can’t dwell on tonight,” Boxall said after the game. “Obviously, we need a massive response after tonight.
“You want to head into the break on a good note. So we’ve got to win on Wednesday.”