Turf Heat – Apparently, field turf can get hot…really hot. A Las Vegas study determined that artificial grass temperatures in the state of Nevada can reach up to 180 degrees in the summer months! While this clearly isn’t the Nevada desert, and quality artificial surfaces for sports come equipped with cooling mechanisms, the turf temperatures at Nippert are going to be a challenge this summer. There were reports that the field temperature at kickoff was 110 degrees while the air temperature was 89 degrees. This isn’t a new problem. Artificial turf has always come with this drawback. It is safe to play on, but all the more reason to support the hydration breaks we saw as part of Saturday’s contest.
First Half – The first half against FC Montréal was one of the best halves of football that we have seen FC Cincinnati play at Nippert. FCC was dominant in all phases of the game and then took the lead through Okoli’s 35th minute penalty kick. They were expected to dominate this FC Montréal team given their experience advantage, their form coming into the match, and the fact that the contest was played at Nippert. They did. Give credit where it’s due, the boys in Orange and Blue were good.
Second Half – The second half started well with Okoli’s volley but we witnessed another nervy finish and another late goal. When I watched it back on Youtube, it wasn’t as nervy as it seemed live. I think the crowd was still feeling the collective anxiety from last week’s Richmond draw. FCC had the insurance goal and they managed the game to its conclusion, claiming all 3 points. Was it perfect? No. Was it better than last week? Oui.
Interesting Stat – There wasn’t too much to get excited about in this week’s box score, but the match did offer a total of 26 fouls between the two teams. This is a season high for a game when FC Cincinnati has been a participant. Surprisingly, the match really didn’t seem that chippy. FCC also tied their season high for fouls committed at 13. The only card that was issued was Kenney Walker’s yellow.
Goalkeeping Coach Gone Wild? – FC Montréal’s keepers coach was sent off by referee Rosendo Mendoza just after the Canadian side scored their 90th minute goal. Maybe he took offense to something that was said? I’m guessing it was something like what’s contained in this catalogue of things not to say to French Canadians. If anyone knows why he was actually sent off, please comment below. I’ve scoured the internet and exhausted my short list of contacts. I’ve come up empty.
Sean Okoli – This is obvious so I won’t belabor the point. After a quiet first 25 minutes, Okoli came to life and was the difference maker. Terrific finishing on both the PK and the volley.
Eric Stevenson – Stevenson earned his second start of the season against FC Montréal and took advantage of it. He possessed and distributed the ball well in the attacking midfield role, initiating a number of offensive moves. He served a sublime cross for Okoli’s second after dispossessing Montréal in midfield to start the move. It’s hard to see him not starting again next week given this performance. I’m not sure the positional change suits Corben Bone who is now being asked to play deeper. It will be interesting to see if the coaching staff tries any other midfield combinations.
Andrew Wiedeman – Wiedeman was fantastic in this match. He was lively and threatening on the right, combining to good effect with McMahon and Stevenson, especially in the first half. He played the long ball to Okoli in transition that resulted in the penalty foul. He had a fantastic work rate, tracking back to help out the defense on FCC’s right on several occasions. He also had a couple of good looks at goal and was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.
Tyler Polak – Polak was solid at left back shutting down a number of FC Montréal moves, turning possession over in the Orange and Blue’s favor. He served 2 delicious crosses in the first half (45′ and stoppage) that easily could have resulted in goals. His corner kicks and free kicks were on point all night. Polak has taken criticism this season for some of FCC’s defensive growing pains. I think he needs to get some credit for this shift.
Results away from Nippert were good as well. LCFC drew and Charleston, Rochester and Charlotte all lost. FCC’s only close competitor that won was second place New York Red Bulls II. The Orange and Blue remain in third place 4 points behind leaders Louisville with a game in hand. See the full USL standings here.
Check back with Orange and Blue Press later this week as we lead up to Canada Part Deux, Toronto FC II, on Saturday the 18th.