US Open Cup overlay - Federico Higuain

CINCINNATI, Ohio – Gregg Berhalter’s Columbus Crew SC squad fell short in the U.S. Open Cup once more Wednesday, this time on what was by far the largest stage of the tournament’s Fourth Round.


The club traveled south for their first-ever match with in-state foe FC Cincinnati of the USL and were blanked in a 1-0 loss in front of more than 30,000 fans, an attendance record for a non-final Open Cup match.


The loss came with several starters on the field, including stars Justin Meram, Federico Higuain and Wil Trapp, and Berhalter made it clear after the match that he wasn’t casting the cup aside.


“We wanted to win the game,” he said. “That was the objective.”


Berhalter's teams exited the Open Cup in the Round of 16 in each of the last three seasons, and the Fourth Round loss was another bitter disappointment in the Cup for the coach, who seemed exasperated about his team’s shortcomings in the tournament.


And when asked how he needs to change his approach to the tournament in the future, Berhalter wasn’t sure.


“I don’t know if there’s a specific formula there,” he said. “Of course we took the game seriously – it’s a big game. There are 30,000 people in the stadium and they want to see quality players, so we put quality players on the field. That was the objective there. In terms of the result, it’s soccer.”


Berhalter had plenty of answers for why his team was unsuccessful. He said Columbus “lacked urgency,” had “slow ball movement” and “wasted opportunities.”


Trapp agreed, and while he said the clubs were “two of the luckiest teams in the Cup to be able to play in front of an atmosphere like this,” he wasn’t happy with the team’s performance, either.


“It’s a matter of being patient and seizing opportunities,” Trapp said. “We were inches away at moments, but ball circulation and playing the right speed is where we lacked. We had spurts of this, but not continuous.”


During his tenure, Berhalter has been unwilling to admit that any game is more important than the next. But after the opening match between Cincinnati and Columbus, he admitted the loss stung more than usual.


“We’re more disappointed because it was an in-state rival and an in-state game, no question,” he said. "We’re playing in the higher league. We should come here and win.”


Berhalter and his team maintain, however, that the club’s confidence remains as they face a quick turnaround in traveling to face Atlanta United on Saturday (7 pm ET | MLS LIVE).


He said he believes his team can compartmentalize the Open Cup failure and jump back into the mindset of a playoff race.


“We’ll look to rebound,” he said. “We still think we’re a good team. We know we’re a good team.”