FC Cincinnati finished a dominant 2018 regular season campaign by topping another USL record. Alan Koch’s squad secured a draw to extend their unbeaten streak to 23 matches in a row, breaking the 22-game record set by the Richmond Kickers in 2013, despite a late comeback by Nashville SC.
The Orange & Blue were sluggish out of the gates, and the home team capitalized on a crisp fall evening at First Tennessee Park. Tucker “Big Bird” Hume headed an Alan Winn cross into goal from close range in the fifth minute to give the home team the lead. FCC grew into the match as the first half progressed, but couldn’t create quality chances from their 70% possession advantage. The teams went into the halftime break with Nashville SC leading by a single goal.
Fireworks went off in a five-goal second half. Seven minutes in, Corben Bone equalized for the Orange & Blue on a beautiful feed from Manu Ledesma. FCC built on that goal, and eleven minutes later, Nazmi Albadawi scored with his head from a corner kick. Ledesma’s olimpico was swatted away from goal by Nashville net-minder Matt Pickens. His weak effort fell squarely to Albadawi who easily nodded the ball into goal from close range to make it 2-1, FC Cincinnati.
The two teams traded goals right around the 80th-minute mark. Nashville equalized through substitute and leading goalscorer Brandon Allen. One minute later, FCC regained the lead when Corben Bone claimed his second goal of the evening. A lovely piece of build-up play on the left saw just-back-from-injury Richie Ryan provide an assist for a curler that beat Matt Pickens for a third time.
FCC seemed to have earned all three points, but Nashville SC didn’t quit on the contest. Their efforts to equalize paid dividends in the 90th minute when Nigerian midfielder Bolu Akinyode fired a rocket into goal from the top of the 18, just after Forrest Lasso had blocked a shot from another Nashville attacker.
The game ended in a 3-3 stalemate. Despite a second consecutive draw, FCC finishes the regular season by cruising comfortably to a USL regular season championship, and setting records for both winning streaks (10 games) and unbeaten streaks (23 games).
Final Score: Nashville SC 3 – 3 FC Cincinnati
FC Cincinnati finishes the season 11 points clear of the next best team in either the Eastern or Western Conference. The top four spots in the Eastern Conference were locked in as of last Wednesday. However, two games are on the docket tomorrow that have implications for the final Eastern Conference playoff seeding in spots 5 through 8. Bethlehem faces the Tampa Bay Rowdies at home (3pm), and New York Red Bulls II will host the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (5pm). Those results will determine FCC’s first round playoff opponent. That team will be one of New York Red Bulls II, Nashville SC, Bethlehem Steel FC, or North Carolina FC.
Highlight of the Match
Corben Bone’s first goal of the match was his 10th of 2018. With that goal, FC Cincinnati set another USL record by being the first team to have four double-digit goalscorers in a single season. He joins Emmanuel Ledesma, Danni König, and Nazmi Albadawi with 10+ goals this year.
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) October 14, 2018
Stat of the Match
FC Cincinnati, with 576 passes, had almost twice as many passes as Nashville SC with 289 on the night. They also completed their passes at an accuracy of 84.4%, over 13% higher than Nashville SC’s passing accuracy. Possession only goes so far though. Nashville made the most of their chances and found a last-gasp equalizer to earn the draw. The home team can boast a 27% conversion rate on the night (3 goals on 11 unblocked shots) which topped FCC’s lower than usual (but still decent) 17% conversion rate on Saturday.
Alan Koch made three changes from the side that drew 0-0 with Pittsburgh last Saturday. Fanendo Adi, Tyler Gibson, and Nazmi Albadawi all returned to the starting eleven for the final regular season match of 2018. Richie Ryan also made his first FCC appearance (as a substitute) since June 30th, when he sustained a lower leg injury against Ottawa Fury FC.
Adi (74′ König)
Bone – Albadawi (76′ McLaughlin) – Ledesma
Lahoud (74′ Ryan) – Gibson
Smith – Lasso – Barrett (C) – Hoyte
The first round of the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs is up next at Nippert Stadium, October 20th. FC Cincinnati’s opponent is still yet to be determined and is dependent on Sunday’s Eastern Conference results. Follow us on Twitter and we’ll keep you informed on who the Orange & Blue will face next Saturday at 4pm at Nippert Stadium.