With one full preseason game in the books, FC Cincinnati squared off against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, a team that has proven to be difficult for FCC to figure out. The last time the Orange & Blue met up with Tampa Bay, the Rowdies delivered a 3-0 spanking at Al Lang Stadium that eliminated FCC from the playoffs.
The Rowdies were making their preseason debut after adding forward Jochen Graf and midfielder Junior Flemmings to their already-stacked squad, while FC Cincinnati was coming off of a 1-1 draw against the New England Revolution on Tuesday.
Both teams played two different squads in each half, with FCC trotting out a starting XI that carried over seven players from the first-half team on Tuesday. Tampa Bay countered with Graf and Flemmings playing alongside Joe Cole, and that appeared to give Tampa Bay the energy and presence to rattle the FCC defense. Graf got two good looks in the middle, only for goalkeeper Spencer Richey to sprawl to his right twice and deny Graf. Despite the possession being dominated by the Rowdies, both squads went into halftime with a 0-0 score.
FCC provided a trialist-heavy squad in the second half that saw Lance Laing and Russell Cicerone playing on the wings, while Tampa Bay brought in a squad loaded with Marcel Schafer and Georgi Hristov in the middle. Despite the difference in known talent between the two teams, FC Cincinnati took the lead in the 63rd minute—Laing threaded a pass from the right of the Tampa Bay goal back to Garrett Halfhill, who cranked a right-footed shot under a sliding defender and past goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald to give the Orange and Blue a 1-0 lead.
For the rest of the game, Tampa Bay pressed harder on offense, only for Laing and Dekel Keinan to counter with solid defense. Hristov managed to make the middle a problem for FCC, heading a shot right at Evan Newton in the 75th minute, then clipping the crossbar on a dangerous free kick in the 83rd. FCC made some substitutions late in the game, and the defense salted away some heavy pressure in the box to keep the 1-0 win.
21’ Yellow Card – Nazmi Albadawi (FCC)
41’ Yellow Card – Paddy Barrett (FCC)
63’ Goal – Garrett Halfhill, assisted by Lance Laing (FCC)
76’ Yellow Card – Hunter Gorskie (TBR)
86’ Yellow Card – Alex Morrell (TBR)
88’ Yellow Card – Georgi Hristov (TBR)
While the true formations for FCC’s squads were uncertain, it appeared they went with the familiar 4-2-3-1 setup to mirror Tampa Bay’s own formation. Richey got the start in goal in the first half, while Newton took over in the second half. Corben Bone appeared to again be pushed forward into more of a midfield role, while Kenney Walker and Albadawi played behind him.
The squad was completely replaced in the second half with four trialists used mostly down the center of the formation. Two were removed in the 80th minute for Will Seymore and Jimmy McLaughlin. The Pennsylvania native made his first appearance of the spring after spending some time dealing with an injury. Josu, who is still recovering from offseason surgery, did not make an appearance in uniform. Forward Emery Welshman and goalkeeper Mark Village were not inserted into the game.
Naturally, this does not count in the actual win column against the Rowdies, but this should give FCC some good vibes going into their final Florida game. While the team still doesn’t have a starting XI figured out, both squads played well against a talented Rowdies roster that looks to be a handful and should compete near the top of the standings. For Tampa Bay, Graf already appears to be a solid striker after a successful opening season with Rochester in 2017. If goalkeeper Cody Mizell has a season like he did for Charlotte last year, the Rowdies look loaded for bear.
First Half Lineup:
Haber – Bone – Ledesma
Walker – Albadawi
Smith – Lasso – Barrett – Hoyte
Second Half Lineup:
Laing – Trialist #2 – Cicerone
Halfhill – De Wit
Trialist #3 – Keinan – Trialist #4 – Bahner
80’ – McLaughlin (for Trialist #1)
80’ – Seymore (for Trialist #2)
While the audio and video took some time to be adjusted, IMG was able to provide a YouTube video feed of the game that you can access again for a replay.
FC Cincinnati’s stacked preseason rolls on with their third and final friendly at IMG Academy against the Chicago Fire’s reserve team on Wednesday, February 14th at 10:30 AM (stream TBD). The team will then return to the Tri-State area for five more preseason friendlies against USL teams and local colleges before they begin the USL season in Charleston.
Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 preseason.