FC Cincinnati extended its USL unbeaten streak to eight games on Saturday, with a 2-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Nippert Stadium. Over 25,000 packed into UC’s campus on a steamy July evening to take in the action. A physical first half ended goalless even though the home side created several clear chances to score.
Alan Koch remarked after the match, “The group that Tampa brought in and loaded up with for the second half of the season can be very dangerous and you could see that tonight.”
Newly appointed Tampa Bay coach Neill Collins stacked his lineup with recently acquired talent, including forward Stefano Bonomo and midfielder Kwadwo Poku. Despite the injection of new blood following the departure of Marcel Schäfer, FC Cincinnati dominated the beginning and end of the first period. Emmanuel Ledesma nearly converted a free kick from just outside the box in the 13th minute. Corben Bone and Danni König also fired inches wide late in the first half.
FC Cincinnati found the back of Tampa Bay’s net in the second 45. Emmanuel Ledesma nodded a header into goal nine minutes after the start of the second half. Danni König then added an insurance goal in the 85th minute, finishing off a devastating counter-attack spearheaded by Emery Welshman. The Orange & Blue defeated the Rowdies for the first time in five competitive meetings, and shook off the ghost of their 2017 playoff defeat with the victory.
Final Score: FC Cincinnati 2-0 Tampa Bay Rowdies
FC Cincinnati remains on top of the Eastern Conference on 38 points after 19 matches played. Second place Pittsburgh, who is lurking just behind with games in hand, was inactive on Saturday and doesn’t play until next weekend against Charleston. That same Charleston Battery defeated a now James O’Connor-less Louisville City FC 2-1 on Saturday to claim third place in the Eastern Conference. Here’s a look at the top eight.
Highlight of the Match
The game-deciding goal was delivered by a precision cross from the neon Orange boots of Corben Bone. Ledesma usually does it with his feet, but he can beat you with his head too.
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) July 15, 2018
Quote of the Match
Emmanuel Ledesma spoke in the post-match press conference about his aerial prowess.
“A long time ago [was last time I scored a header]. I never score with my head … That was an amazing ball from ‘Magic’ (Corben Bone).”
Alan Koch started the exact same lineup that featured in the 0-0 draw with Nashville last Saturday.
Ledesma – König
Smith – Lasso – Keinan – Hoyte
The Orange and Blue are quickly back into action on Wednesday for an 8pm match against the Charlotte Independence at Nippert Stadium. That game will be featured on ESPN2. Recall that Charlotte handed the Orange & Blue a humiliating 4-1 defeat away from home earlier in the season. The Orange & Blue will then face a surging New York Red Bulls II three days later to complete a stretch of three matches in eight days.
Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 season.