FC Cincinnati fell 2-1 to the Charleston Battery in the first round of the USL playoffs in front of 30,187 fans on Sunday. The enormous crowd at Nippert Stadium represents a USL postseason attendance record, breaking a 2013 record held by Orlando City.
The home team started on the front foot, taking the lead in the 19th minute when Eric Stevenson thundered a thirty yard blast into the the top right corner of Charleston’s goal. The show-stopping strike was good enough to earn him a spot on ESPN’s SportsCenter top 10 plays of the day.
The Orange and Blue gave one back in the 40th minute under circumstances that have become familiar in 2016’s storyline. They let in a soft goal five minutes before halftime from a throw-in. There was suspicion of a foul both on the Charleston throw and for a push on Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt as he made a play on the ball. Neither foul was called and the goal stood.
Charleston took a decisive lead, against the run of play, twenty minutes into the second half when Zach Prince redirected Maikel Chang’s corner kick into the FC Cincinnati goal. Tyler Polak got a touch on the ball as it went in, but full credit was awarded to Prince on the score sheet.
FC Cincinnati battled and pushed in the final 25 minutes of the game, as the near capacity crowd urged them on, but a stout and physical Battery defense would not break down. The game finished 2-1 and FC Cincinnati’s dream first season came to an abrupt end.
For more perspectives on the match, see the following worthy sources.
Despite the defeat, FC Cincinnati’s inaugural season must be categorized as nothing short of an overwhelming success. Kudos to the players, coaching staff, front office and especially the fans for making the 2016 season an instant classic. We started the season trying to prove that we were a soccer city, and finished showing that we are THE soccer city. It has been an honor to cover the first season of this club and I look forward to many more amazing moments colored in Orange and Blue.
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