FC Cincinnati played the Charlotte Independence to a 1-1 stalemate in front of 21,115 at Nippert Stadium on Saturday. Alan Koch’s team went down a goal in the 18th minute when Charlotte’s Alex Martinez blasted a close range effort past Mitch Hildebrandt from a tight angle. After being outplayed for the balance of the first half, the Orange and Blue leveled just before halftime on the foot Justin Hoyte. The former Arsenal fullback exchanged with Corben Bone on the left side of the box. A Charlotte defender interrupted their play but the ball fell to Hoyte who put a first time curler into the bottom right corner.
A goalless second half followed. Alan Koch introduced Djiby Fall, Andrew Wiedeman, and Josu Currais in an attempt to find a winner, but it wasn’t to be. Charlotte finished the match with 10 men as a result of forward Enzo Martinez receiving a second yellow card for dissent in the 89th minute. FC Cincinnati’s best chance of the half fell to Jimmy McLaughlin in stoppage time. Corben Bone played a long ball into the box for Djiby who headed it down for McLaughlin. He took a touch to his right and fired a shot at goal, but it was partially blocked and deflected out of bounds.
The draw leaves FC Cincinnati in eighth place with 16 total points after 13 matches played.
Djiby On The Bench
Danni König started the match at center forward even though the team’s leading scorer Djiby Fall was available for selection. Djiby had just completed a six game USL suspension that resulted from his altercation with Louisville City’s Niall McCabe back in April. Alan Koch had an eye on the team’s US Open Cup showdown with Columbus Crew SC on Wednesday, and elected to start the Danish forward for this match. König had a hard time making his mark. He had just 18 touches and produced only one shot over the 90 minutes. His single shot was a near-goal that was blocked off the line by Charlotte midfielder Callum Ross.
First Half Frustration for Koch
FC Cincinnati was outplayed in the first half. Charlotte had ample space to operate and capitalized on it with the opening goal and a number of quality chances. David Estrada nearly doubled the lead for the visitors in the 31st minute, sending a close range effort off the crossbar. At intermission Koch said the following of his team’s play. “I don’t think we’re very happy with how the first 45 minutes went. We gave Charlotte way too much respect…we’re allowing them space all over the field.”
Hoyte’s late first half equalizer got the Orange and Blue back into the match. Hoyte was playing just his third match for the club after signing on March 29th. His playing time has been limited by a hamstring injury he sustained shortly after he arrived from England.
FC Cincinnati produced 17 total shots over the course of the ninety minutes. However, only four of the 17 were on target and two of those four shots were from defenders. Jimmy McLaughlin and Aodhan Quinn had three shots each to lead the team, but none of those six were on goal.
Needed Three Points
FC Cincinnati needs to beat teams like Charlotte at Nippert if they want to be a top team in the East. After 13 matches played they are in eighth place and barely hanging on to a playoff spot. The tone was brief and somewhat downbeat in the post match press conference.
“A point feels like a loss…we looked good at moments, individual mistakes prevented us from getting on top of the game tonight.” — Alan Koch
“The mood in the locker room is a bit disappointed.” — Harrison Delbridge
“I enjoyed scoring a goal, but at the end of the day it’s about winning” — Justin Hoyte
Match Photos via Joe Schmuck
Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference
Next Saturday’s opponent the Charleston Battery wins a lot of games, and they did it again this weekend. They downed the Richmond Kickers 1-0 at home to open up a four point lead at the top of the Eastern Conference. They are eleven points clear of FC Cincinnati having played the same number of games.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies drew 1-1 with the Rochester Rhinos and remain in second. Ottawa beat Harrisburg, and Toronto FC II played to a 1-1 draw with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
Louisville City and New York Red Bulls II play Sunday in a matchup between the #3 and #4 teams in the East.
Bumper Week Ahead
Weeks don’t get much bigger than the week in store for FC Cincinnati and its fans. On Monday the team will host a Season Ticket Holder Open House at Woodward Theatre in OTR to reveal the most recent stadium plans. On Wednesday, they’ll host Columbus Crew SC in a US Open Cup, “Hell is Real” derby match, that’s expected break attendance records. They then close the week by hosting first place Charleston Battery at Nippert. That match will provide a chance to erase this team’s early season struggles against the best team the Eastern Conference has to offer.
Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of the week ahead.