FC Cincinnati earned a statement victory Saturday afternoon when they defeated local rival Louisville City FC 2-0 at Nippert Stadium. Andrew Wiedeman and Sean Okoli turned in the goals for the Orange and Blue. For play-by-play details of the game’s events, see our recap roundup segment.
Injury Impact – Kenney Walker, Ross Tomaselli and Paul Nicholson were all injured and absent for this match. As a result, Corben Bone started in defensive midfield. Andrew Wiedeman, who has typically featured on the right side of FC Cincinnati’s attack played centrally behind Sean Okoli, with Cummings then shifting to the right.
C’mon Man – Sean Okoli clearly should have been awarded a penalty in the 13th minute when he was tripped up in the box by a Louisville defender. The Orange and Blue have been on the wrong end of some poor refereeing decisions this week.
Night and Day – What a dramatic contrast between the first half of this match and the first half when these two sides played in Louisville in June. In that away match, Louisville dominated possession and peppered the FC Cincinnati goal with shots. In yesterday’s first half, FCC goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt had almost nothing to do.
Set Piece Success – Both goals came from set pieces. The first goal followed a FC Cincinnati free kick that was poorly cleared by LCFC and fell to Wiedeman. Okoli thundered home the second goal from a corner kick. As good as Okoli’s finish was, LCFC’s goalkeeper Ranjitsingh was in absolute “no man’s land” on the corner kick, perhaps disoriented by the sun’s angle.
Dodging Bullets – FC Cincinnati did benefit from some luck in this match, and frankly, they were due for some. Louisville had two second half efforts hit the post that could have changed the complexion of this game.
Nice Moves – The ever-reliable Pat McMahon had a rough first half and was likely suffering from fatigue due to the recent heavy schedule of matches. Derek Luke came on in his place at the start of the 2nd half. Shortly after the 2nd goal, Harkes replaced Okoli with Mohomed and went to a more true 4-5-1 formation. This was likely done to help protect the lead and may also have been influenced by the fact that Okoli has 4 yellow cards and will serve a game suspension if he picked up another. It’s obviously critical to have Ugo on the field next weekend for the Charleston match.
Perfect game? This was the first time this season that everything seemed to come together in a single match for Cincinnati. Their attack was opportunistic and the defense shut down one of the best offensive units in the USL. They also retained the lead to the game’s conclusion, keeping a clean sheet. This may not have truly been a “must win” game for FC Cincinnati, but they sure played like it was.
The Difference – FC Cincinnati captured the River Cities Cup on goal difference. All the goals mattered of course, but Pat McMahon’s stoppage time consolation goal in the first match in April proved to be vital in capturing the cup.
Louisville City had 15 total shots, but only 3 of the 15 (20%) were on goal. Typically, close to 44% of LCFC’s shots are on target. FC Cincinnati’s defense also limited USL leading goalscorer Chandler Hoffman to 2 total shots on the afternoon.
FC Cincinnati snapped Louisville City FC’s 17 league unbeaten streak. They had not lost a match since April 2nd.
“Corben Bone was absolutely for me the man of the match without a doubt. The way that he led on the field from a central position was excellent.” –John Harkes
“We had a back four, then pretty much 6 offensive players out there….I think the coaching staff gambled, and had a game plan that we executed….and here we are with 3 points.” –Andrew Wiedeman
On the heat: “It was miserable, that was probably the hottest pitch I’ve ever played on. Three minutes in we were all walking on the sides of our feet because it was so damn hot out there.” –Andrew Wiedeman
Andrew Wiedeman – He scored the first and deciding goal in the match. Typically part of the front 3, he adapted well a his more withdrawn central role, working tirelessly with and without the ball. It’ll be interesting to see if we see him start in that position again.
Corben Bone – John Harkes heaped praise on Bone in the post-match press conference. Bone, playing out of position in a defensive midfield role, protected the back 4, picking up the ball from them and distributing it to the attacking players.
Eric Stevenson – He only played 70 of the 90, but used the ball intelligently all afternoon. He also embraced the defensive responsibilities placed on him, something we haven’t really seen from him before.
One cannot emphasize enough how important this victory was for the Orange and Blue. If Harkes’ men had lost to Louisville it would have opened up an 11 point gap in the standings between the two sides. With the win, FC Cincinnati are only 5 points back with a game in hand. Results away from Nippert were favorable as well. Fourth place Charleston Battery defeated second place NY Red Bulls II 3-2 in New Jersey, a result that helps keep NY within touching distance. Fifth place Rochester drew with Bethlehem Steel 1-1 on Sunday afternoon. Visit the USL site for the full Eastern Conference standings.
There’s another huge game next Saturday at Nippert when the Charleston Battery come to town. The Battery are only 2 points behind the Orange and Blue and will be full of confidence after their win in New Jersey.