FC Cincinnati downed North Carolina FC by a 4-1 scoreline on Saturday in front of 22,884 at Nippert Stadium. Former NCFC player Nazmi Albadawi scored two first half goals to put an exclamation point a complete performance by the Orange & Blue.
Albadawi’s first goal came in the 11th minute of play when Manu Ledesma played him into space in a left central position. He dribbled twice then unleashed a strike from 23 yards that nestled into the top right corner. FCC dominated possession and chance creation in the first half but struggled to extend their lead. That changed in the 45th minute when Ledesma’s press caused a North Carolina FC turnover. He collected the loose ball and slipped it to Albadawi. Naz dribbled across the top of the box and fired again, this time with his left foot, into the top left corner. That goal gave FCC the two goal separation they deserved at the halftime break.
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) May 20, 2018
Alan Koch’s side picked up where they left off in the second half, adding another pair of goals to the scoreline. Emmanuel Ledesma created and converted a penalty kick in the 62nd minute. He beat Tambakis to a loose ball and was tripped up by the NCFC goalkeeper to earn the PK. Seven minutes later, Ledesma became provider yet again, delivering a diagonal through-ball to König who scored FCC’s fourth. North Carolina FC’s Marios Lomis snatched a consolation goal with four minutes left, but the contest had ended long before that. It was a statement victory for Alan Koch’s side and rectified a puzzling road loss in Charlotte just one week ago.
Final Score: FC Cincinnati 4 – 1 North Carolina FC
Alan Koch had the following to say about Nazmi Albadawi’s performance in the post match press conference.
“As a player when you get to play against your old team, a team that’s given Naz so much and he gave them so much, when you get to do what he did tonight, it’s incredibly special. He should be incredibly proud of himself and the team, and his family should be incredibly proud of him too. He’s moved away from home and that’s not always easy. It takes time to adjust to a new environment, and he continues to get better and better all the time.”
The win takes FC Cincinnati to 20 points and keeps them in first place in the Eastern Conference standings after 10 matches played. Louisville City FC is right behind them in second place after rescuing a victory in stoppage time against Atlanta United 2. FCC’s rivals also have a game-in-hand. North Carolina FC sinks to 15th place in the East, with just two wins on the season.
11′ – GOAL – CIN – Nazmi Albadawi (assist Emmanuel Ledesma)
30′ – YELLOW CARD – CIN – Blake Smith
45′ – GOAL – CIN – Nazmi Albadawi (assist Emmanuel Ledesma)
62′ – GOAL – CIN – Emmanuel Ledesma (PK)
65′ – YELLOW CARD – NCFC – Kyle Bekker
69′ – GOAL – CIN – Danni König (assist Emmanuel Ledesma)
75′ – YELLOW CARD – CIN – Danni König
86′ – GOAL – NCFC – Mario Lomis (assist Kyle Bekker)
FC Cincinnati’s first eleven featured just three players that started midweek in an extra time victory against Detroit City FC. Albadawi, Barrett, and Newton each played the full 90 on Saturday after providing meaningful minutes in the U.S. Open Cup.
Ledesma (71′ Welshman) – König (84′ McLaughlin)
Bone – Walker
Ryan (82′ Lahoud)
Smith – Keinan – Barrett – Hoyte
Emmanuel Ledesma was involved in all four goals, assisting on three and scoring from a penalty kick in the 62nd minute.
Albadawi’s brace means FCC now has five players with three or more goals this season. Konig and Ledesma are now tied for the lead with four goals each.
FC Cincinnati now has the best goal difference in the Eastern Conference at +7.
The Orange and Blue switch their focus back to the U.S. Open Cup and will prepare for a Wednesday encounter with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Highmark Stadium. The winner of that contest will face MLS competition in the fourth round. Saturday’s result also sets up a massive Dirty River Derby clash between FCC and Louisville City FC next Saturday at Nippert Stadium. A winner in that contest not only gets bragging rights but sole possession of first place in the East.
Check in tomorrow for match photos from Joe Craven more analysis of Saturday’s victory.