FC Cincinnati defeated rival Louisville City FC by a 3-2 scoreline at Slugger Field in Kentucky on Saturday. The teams traded early goals in the first half of play. Referee Marcos de Oliveira awarded a penalty kick to Louisville City shortly after the opening whistle for a handball infringement by Harrison Delbridge. Louisville’s Ilija Ilić converted the penalty kick to give the home side an early advantage.
The Orange and Blue responded immediately via their talismanic striker. Djiby equalized when Louisville City keeper Greg Ranjitsingh spilled a right-sided cross from Jimmy McLaughlin. The loose ball fell to the Senegalese forward. He lobbed it into the bottom right corner of goal and the score was quickly leveled at 1-1.
Standout defender Tyler Polak left the game with an ankle injury in the 30th minute after a card-worthy tackle from behind by Louisville’s Kyle Smith. Josu picked up right where Polak left off though and immediately impacted the game. Possession was roughly equal at the end of the first half, but Louisville City boasted an 8-2 shot advantage that included several quality chances to score.
The Orange and Blue took the lead 10 minutes after the break. Harrison Delbridge thumped a near posted header in from close range from a corner kick delivered by Josu Currais.
Substitute Danni König gave FC Cincinnati an insurance goal they needed in the 77th minute, just seconds after entering the match. Josu played a gorgeous cross-field ball to Andrew Wiedeman. He corralled the pass and quickly shot on target from a tight angle. Ranjitsingh stopped the initial shot but the rebound fell to König, who easily slotted it home.
Louisville City got one back in stoppage time but it was too late to mount a credible comeback. The goal was awarded as an own goal against Andrew Wiedeman.
The derby triumph was FC Cincinnati’s first ever win on Kentucky soil, and only their second away victory of the 2017 season. The win maintains FC Cincinnati’s sixth place position in the table, but the extra points bring them within one point of fourth place. The coveted top four spots in the Conference are guaranteed at least one home playoff game at seasons’ end. Charleston still leads the East with 35 points.
Four Numbers That Mattered
8 – The number of minutes between the first Louisville City goal and FC Cincinnati’s equalizer. All the momentum swung in Louisville City’s direction early in the match after Ilić’s penalty kick conversion. FC Cincinnati wasn’t creating chances and didn’t have a shot on goal at that point. They got some luck when Louisville keeper Ranjitsingh spilled McLaughlin’s cross. One should not underestimate the efficiency of body movement and awareness required for Djiby to quickly turn and slot that ball into goal first time. The immediate response by FC Cincinnati was vital to the game’s outcome. That’s ten USL goals for Djiby and 13 in all competitions.
99 – The jersey number of wingback Josu Currais, who delivered a man of the match performance. Tyler Polak’s first-half injury was concerning indeed, and we’ll need him to recover quickly given the jam-packed schedule ahead. However, Josu replaced Polak and delivered an inspired performance. He cleared Brian Ownby’s 33rd minute shot off the line in dramatic fashion. He provided the delivery on the corner kick for Harrison Delbridge’s 55th minute goal AND provided a key cross field pass to create Wiedeman’s shot on the third goal. His defensive work also helped to shut down Louisville City’s right handed attack in the second half.
83 – The percentage of FC Cincinnati’s shots that were on target. Louisville City’s defense limited FCC’s attack to only six total shots in this match, but five of the six were on target. In recent away matches, FC Cincinnati has produced shots, but many of them have been speculative efforts from distance. What’s more important than the number of shots is the quality of chances a team creates. Those six chances were of high quality and they converted three of them against a very good Louisville City defense.
105 – The number of days since FC Cincinnati’s last victory away from home. The Orange and Blue’s road form has been dire in 2017. Before this match, they had a 1-5-2 record away from Nippert and hadn’t won a road match since April 1st. A three goal derby win is just what they needed to cure their traveling ailments, and put them in a great position with 13 USL league games remaining.
How about that traveling support? I don’t have an accurate number of how many made the trip but it was a big number and they made their presence felt. Big kudos to all who made it down to Louisville to support the Orange and Blue for a historic derby victory.
FC Cincinnati will benefit from a week of rest before a home game against the Harrisburg City Islanders on July 22nd. That game will be quickly followed by a Monday night international friendly against Valencia CF of Spain’s La Liga. Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more news, analysis, and color commentary on FC Cincinnati.