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FC Cincinnati’s Goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt talks about his thought process on dealing with penalty kicks.
The Enquirer/Phil Didion

Performances like the one Futbol Club Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt produced in the club’s latest Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup triumph are deliberate acts.

Luck helps, but that doesn’t account for all the ways Hildebrandt stymied and dismantled the attack of heavily-favored and high-powered Chicago Fire SC of Major League Soccer in Wednesday night’s Round of 16 victory.

FC Cincinnati advanced to the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals with a 3-1 win in penalty kicks. They’ll next play Miami FC of the North American Soccer League (NASL) July 12. 

Hildebrandt’s performance stands as one of the great individual efforts in FC Cincinnati’s young but fast-growing history, but it isn’t reducible to what was seen on the nationally-televised ESPN broadcast.

Weeks of development for Hildebrandt under a new coach, and hours of game preparation aided by multiple team staffers were major contributing factors, too.

This is how FC Cincinnati and Hildebrandt prepared for the biggest night of the goalkeeper’s career.

GAME STUDY

Team videographer Matt Shisler doesn’t get a lot of facetime for the various duties he performs for FC Cincinnati, but he’s a vital cog in the club mechanism.

One of Shisler’s jobs this year, according to head coach Alan Koch, is to help scout opposition penalty takers by crafting materials, and videos in particular, for the club’s goalkeepers to study. 

The emphasis on these videos is heightened for U.S. Open Cup play because those games could always end in a shootout. 

“We’ll show Mitch before the game exactly where we think a couple of their guys are going to go,” Koch said. “We did the exact same thing for the Fire match, and it’s a Cup competition so there could be five or more shooters. You have to give the goalkeepers as much information as you have. We prepare a big document and it shows Mitch exactly where each [;ayers goes or is going to go, so that gives him a guide.”

Newly-hired goalkeeper coach Dave Schureck assists with the scouting, too.

On Wednesday, which was Schureck’s fourth game on…