FC Cincinnati was eliminated in the first round of the USL playoffs by the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night. They fell by a score of 3-0, ending their second season as a professional franchise.
Tampa Bay dropped two early goals on the Orange and Blue, despite a positive start from Alan Koch’s side. Both goals were scored from the foot of midfielder Marcel Schäfer in the first 25 minutes of play. The first goal saw Schafer run through 1-on-1 with Hildebrandt where he snuck a soft strike past Mitch from a tight angle. The German international’s second goal was a 25-yard strike through traffic that found the lower right corner.
Tampa Bay added a third goal in the second half to ice the game. Georgi Hristov took a speculative shot from outside the box on Tampa’s left side. The ball beat Hildebrandt, hit the crossbar, and ricocheted down and into the goal. Any hope of a comeback was gone at that point and FC Cincinnati’s sophomore campaign came to a close in disappointing fashion.
Head coach Alan Koch had the following to say after the match.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed. Anytime you lose in a cup game, it’s not fun. You could see the players left everything they had out on the pitch tonight. Individual errors cost us a lot and we actually played quite well at times tonight. You get yourself into a bit of a hole, two nothing down. …Unfortunately, this cup run isn’t as pleasurable as our other Cup run.”
Four Numbers That Mattered
8 – The minute of the play when Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead. FC Cincinnati had not scored a goal at Al Lang Stadium in two matches prior to Saturday’s game. Going down a goal early against one of the best defensive teams in the Eastern Conference was something they simply couldn’t afford to do.
4 – The jersey number of Marcel Schäfer. Tampa Bay’s German international was a thorn in FC Cincinnati’s side during the regular season and Saturday was no different. He’s scored 3 goals in 3 games against the Orange and Blue and his first-half brace put this contest out of reach early.
1 – The number of shots on target from FC Cincinnati on Saturday night. FCC has the ability to generate offense and create chances. In this match, they created 10 shots, just 2 less than their opponent. But using those chances to test the goalkeeper is something they’ve struggled to do all season.
2.4 – FC Cincinnati’s goals against average (GAA) over their last five matches. That average includes the clean sheet kept against the Charlotte Independence on September 29th. If defense wins championships, it’s easy to see why FCC did not advance far in the 2017 playoffs.
With FC Cincinnati’s 2017 season now in the books, eyes and ears in the Queen City will turn toward the MLS expansion conversation and the December announcement of two winning bids. Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more news, analysis, and color commentary on FC Cincinnati.