FC Cincinnati Kicked in the Grass

FC Cincinnati lost in Florida on Wednesday evening 1-0 to the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the third round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, eliminating them from the tournament.

You may recall that the Orange and Blue have found great success in the Sunshine State recently, winning the preseason IMG SunCoast Classic in Bradenton and defeating Orlando City B 3-1 earlier this season. Florida has been good to FC Cincinnati indeed, but that storyline changed on Wednesday night.

This match was watched with great interest by FC Cincinnati’s faithful, not just because it was a single-elimination match against a side from US soccer’s second-tier NASL, but because a winning result would create a fourth round match-up with Columbus Crew SC.

Since the action on the pitch and the subsequent result were somewhat disappointing, let’s first take a look at the amazing entertainment that FC Cincinnati’s gracious hosts, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, provided. The match was only available for viewing only via Youtube stream and that stream opened up with the Rowdies classic 1975 theme song “Kick in the Grass.”

“The Rowdies run here,
The Rowdies run there,
They kick the ball around.
The Rowdies run here,
The Rowdies run there,
Then they fall on the ground!
Oh, The Rowdies, The Rowdies,
The Rowdies aaa-are…
A kick in the grass!”

The accompanying music, a combination of Polka and the theme song to “Barney & Friends”, is pure entertainment magic (I’m still singing it today). Combine this with their supporters’ names, the “fannies” and the “loudies”, and this historical logo from the original 1975 incarnation of the club, and the result is very entertaining indeed.

In the early NASL days the franchise also had cheerleaders named the “Wowdies.” Again, amazing name. This is one of America’s classic professional soccer teams with a colorful history. Read more about it here.

Since we’re talking about colors, we’ll also note that the color combinations in this match weren’t so easy on the eye. FC Cincinnati showed up in their orange, blue and white home kit. Tampa’s home team wore hoops in their traditional yellow and green colors. While the Rowdies kits aren’t so great to look at, let’s not forget that our jersey’s are one color away from looking like a Popsicle Firecracker. I like our jerseys personally, and think we should further embrace this by selling these delicious frozen treats at the game. If management adopts this idea, I will only request a small royalty to help feed the hamsters that power this website.

OK, I’ve stalled long enough, a few thoughts on the match.

Deep Thoughts

The lone goal of the match was scored by Tampa’s Bulgarian forward Georgi Hristov after a long ball was played behind the right side of FC Cincinnati’s back line. Pat McMahon was caught high but Hristov was the center forward who had peeled off to the side so FCC’s center backs bear some responsibility for tracking him as well. Pat McMahon may have thought the left-sided Tampa players (Ramirez, Burgos, Sweat) he was responsible for were either in front of him or offside, therefore delaying his retreat.

FCC’s fullbacks have come under some criticism during the first third of the season, but defending is a collective activity requiring communication and coordination. Some of the singling out of the fullbacks on these goals is overly simplistic. The center backs and defensive midfielders must also communicate and cover when the fullbacks are asked to press forward and opposition attackers are changing position.

Pat McMahon battles with Tampa left winger Ramirez
Pat McMahon battles with Tampa left winger Ramirez. Photo courtesy Tampa Bay Rowdies / Mike Carlson

Despite the loss, FC Cincinnati had their opportunities. They had twice as many total shots (14-7) as Tampa Bay and Walker, Wiedeman, and Hoppenot all had very good chances in front of goal that they could not convert. So the Orange and Blue were not really outplayed but this was not a vintage FCC performance, and it didn’t feel like they deserved to win the game.

So no I-71 rivalry game, …no “Hell is Real” derby as it’s been labeled in honor of the fine religious signage between Cincinnati and Columbus. It will happen someday and it’s going to be fantastic, but not for a while. I know a lot of FC Cincinnati fans who also support Crew SC, and some are breathing a sigh of relief that they don’t have to decide between their two favorite teams…yet.

This weekend sees FC Cincinnati return to USL league action, where they are still unbeaten in 6, against the Richmond Kickers at Nippert Stadium. The forecast is calling for 80% chance of rain and possible evening thunderstorms with accumulations of up to 3/4 of an inch. This team can’t catch a break with the weather. I’m officially submitting a request to the supporters’ groups Die Innenstadt and the Pride to incorporate some sort of “no rain” dance into their repertoire of chants. Or do an actual rain dance backwards. Do something. Please.

For blow-by-blow details of the US Open cup match, check out the following worthy sources.

FC Cincinnati Official, DJ Switzer
Cincinnati Soccer Talk, Bryan Weigel
Cincinnati.com, Pat Brennan

Cover image/photo for this post also courtesy of courtesy Tampa Bay Rowdies / Mike Carlson. I’ve seen a lot of soccer photography since the season began and Mr. Carlson has produced some of the best images I’ve seen this year. I don’t need another picture in this article but let’s have one more anyway.

FC Cincinnati
Photo Courtesy Tampa Bay Rowdies / Mike Carlson

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