Spencer Richey, Cinderella, Injuries and #HELLISREAL the Prequel

Match notes from Wednesday’s draw between FC Cincinnat and the Chicago fire including Spencer Richey, Injuries, and #HELLISREAL the Prequel.

FC Cincinnati earned an unlikely draw against the Chicago Fire on Wednesday in their second match of the Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston. Despite a lackluster performance for the first 70 minutes, a late Roland Lamah thunderbolt and some epic Spencer Richey goalkeeping earned the Orange and Blue a point from the contest.

Spencer Richey

If there’s one name you should take away from this preseason tie, it’s Spencer Richey. He played a blinder of a match on Wednesday, and while we don’t have official match stats, that had to be close to a 10-save-match for the Washington native. The score line could and would have looked a lot worse without his notable efforts between the posts.

PrzemysŇāaw TytoŇĄ, with his extensive European pedigree, seems a shoo-in as the regular starter. But if Richey can continue to perform at the level he did on Wednesday, Alan Koch and Jack Stern won’t be able to keep him out of the net for long. That’s a good problem to have for the coaching staff.

Cinderella Transformation

The first unit that took the field for the majority of the match struggled mightily against a Fire side that began the match without many of its regular starters. Alan Koch said the following at the game’s conclusion, when speaking about the troubles they encountered.

“We looked completely disconnected. There was no support. When we tried to get the ball forward, Darren was completely by himself. When guys at the back had the ball, there was no movement . . . It’s not that they aren’t capable of doing it, but it’s the tightness in the way they went out and played. Also give Chicago credit. They pressed, and they did a very good job of it.”

In the 70th minute, FC Cincinnati ditched their proverbial rags and transformed into something quite different. Alan Koch rotated his squad, changing 9 players. The difference couldn’t have been more stark. They were immediately able to possess the ball and penetrate Chicago’s midfield, leading to quality chances in the final third. Lamah’s slice of finishing brilliance gave the Orange & Blue the unlikely equalizer.

Injuries

Injuries are beginning to loom quite large for the Orange & Blue, particularly in defense. At this late stage of preseason, those injuries seem likely to impact the start of the regular season. Greg Garza and Kendall Waston, arguably the two most valuable and expensive pieces of FC Cincinnati’s defense, still aren’t dressing for games. What is already an EXTREMELY difficult to start to the regular season will become even more difficult without the quality and experience those players provide. It is difficult to see them being match fit by March 2nd, even if they have recovered from their respective injuries.

FC Cincinnati’s depth will, therefore, be tested early. Players will need to step up to the challenge, and the goalkeeping will have to resemble last night’s display if the Orange & Blue are to claim points out of the early-season schedule.

#HELLISREAL, the Prequel

FC Cincinnati will suit up against Columbus Crew SC on Saturday for the first time as an MLS team. In truth, I would prefer that they didn’t play in preseason, to build up anticipation for the August matches. Because this is an exhibition match, there will be lots of caveats regarding fitness, player selection, substitutions, and the like.

However, on the positive side, it will be a first look at what everyone hopes will become one of the best rivalries in MLS. As one of only two playoff teams that FC Cincinnati will face in the preseason, Columbus should provide a stiff test and give an indication of where the team stands one week before the matchup with Seattle. Given the squad rotation against Chicago, we are likely to see a starting eleven that looks similar to what will run out at CenturyLink Field for the MLS opener.

Oh, and of course, FC Cincinnati also has a chance to take the Carolina Challenge Cup with a win. Not that it matters really at all, but another small cup in the trophy cupboard would be nice, and could give them a morsel of extra confidence as they head into the regular season. This team has had a short runway to get ready for the top flight. Whether they are ready or not, March 2nd is almost here.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for move coverage of FC Cincinnati’s preseason.

D.C. Match Notes, Injuries, Dally Seizing Opportunity

Photo Credit: FC Cincinnati

The Result

FC Cincinnati drew 1-1 with D.C. United in the third and final game of the Bradenton portion of preseason programming. Now it’s time to play the broken record . . . don’t read too much into preseason results. FCC wasn’t at full strength. D.C. United wasn’t at full strength. There were a lot of substitutions and playing-time was given to players on the fringes of each team’s starting eleven. That being said, the team can take confidence from another positive result against the best team they’ve faced so far.

Thursday’s contest was a tale of two halves. D.C. dominated early when both team’s higher-priced players featured. United probably should have scored more than one goal but PrzemysŇāaw TytoŇĄ put in an inspired performance. That’s a good sign, becuase the Polish keeper will likely be called upon to keep FCC in the game more than once this season. The Orange & Blue controlled proceedings later in the match with a lineup that featured several USL carryovers and 2019 draftees. Nazmi Albadawi grabbed the 81st-minute equalizer to reward that group’s efforts. That man Manu Ledesma had the assist. It was another good preseason exercise, and that’s all.

Alan Koch had the following to say after the match.

“In the first 45 minutes tonight, if that was a league game, we could‚Äôve been 3-0 down. So, it‚Äôs a great reality check to have that with a few weeks to go in our preparation. I said ‚Äėyou played three teams in the league, those three teams have been together for a long time, and we didn‚Äôt lose to any of them.‚Äô Results don‚Äôt mean anything, but that shows a group that‚Äôs willing to come together and fight for each other, so we‚Äôve gained a lot from this trip.‚ÄĚ

Bradenton’s Been Good to the Orange & Blue

Geoff Tebbetts managed to glean a nice statistic out of yesterday’s contest, even without visuals or any real match data. The Boys in Orange & Blue end their IMG stint with 5 points (1-0-2). While it may only be preseason, FCC has 4 wins and 5 draws in 11 games at IMG over the last four preseasons.

No Major Injuries

Alan Koch starts almost every preseason interview talking about the importance of staying healthy during preseason. The FCC staff has an important challenge ahead to get the group match-ready in a short time-period but also to manage the health of the players. How well they do that will go a long way toward determining whether they can get any points out of three very difficult matches to open the MLS season.

There are still some minor injuries though. Greg Garza and Darren Mattocks did not play Thursday due to injury. Per our direct communications with FC Cincinnati today, Kendall Waston, Emery Welshman, and Leo Bertone were rested yesterday and didn’t miss the match because of injury. It’s worth noting that Pat Brennan is reporting some minor niggles with a few players in Friday’s training session..

In more positive news, Spencer Richey played his first live-action game minutes of the preseason, entering at halftime and finishing the game with a clean sheet for his portion of the contest.

Lundt to LCFC, Dally Seizing the Opportunity

FCC confirmed Thursday that Ben Lundt is officially headed to Louisville City FC on loan. This loan move was first reported on Tuesday by Kristian Dyer.

A loan has been anticipated since FC Cincinnati drafted two keepers back in January. Teams rarely keep more than three keepers on the roster, and Lundt is an international player. Louisville should be a suitable place for the German to continue his development, even if it will be difficult to see any FCC player in purple.

Another name that demands attention this preseason is Rashawn Dally. The Connecticut native must be doing something right this preseason. He signed an MLS contract with FC Cincinnati earlier this week and started alongside Fanendo Adi on Thursday. Dally has accumulated more playing time (80 minutes) than any other draftee so far.

Dally still might be loaned out, but as the only player FCC drafted in the third or fourth rounds of the 2019 SuperDraft, he’s making the most of his opportunity. If this team is light in any position, it’s on the forward line, so he may have a chance to remain with the MLS team.

The Orange and Blue return from Florida on Saturday and play their next friendly against Indy Eleven in the Indianapolis ‘burbs on Tuesday. Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s preseason.

Photo Credit: FC Cincinnati

FCC vs. Nashville: Goal Distribution, PK Concerns, and Goalkeepers

Analysis of FC Cincinnati’s goal distribution, defensive concerns, and goalkeeping battle after the preseason tilt vs. Nashville.

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FC Cincinnati finally made its 2018 home ‚Äúdebut‚ÄĚ on Saturday before a sold-out throng of soccer-hungry fans, but there is one last week of preseason work before the team begins the harsh 2018 USL season. Let‚Äôs dive into how the team looks after its 2-2 preseason tie with Nashville SC.

Offense By Committee

The ‚Äúcloser by committee‚ÄĚ concept may not exactly work for a baseball team, but so far, the idea of spreading around the offense is working for FCC. The goals by Lance Laing and Emery Welshman gives the squad 9 preseason goals in 5 games, and each has been scored by a separate player. So far, the midfield has scored the most (5), while the defenders and forwards have both scored twice.

Granted, a span of five games is a very small sample size, and we’ve only seen the team performing at a preseason level. But the distribution of goals could lead to some good results, especially if the offense scores at a click close to twice a game. Let’s consider some of the stats that came from the past two USL champions:

  • In 2017, Louisville City got 65 USL regular season goals from 17 players, even though their leading scorer (Luke Spencer) only had 11. By comparison, FCC only got 46 from 14 different players (Djiby with 15).
  • In 2016, New York Red Bulls II got 61 goals from 17 players, Brandon Allen leading with 15. While Sean Okoli led the league with 16, FCC only got a total of 41 from 11 players.

Simply put, the key to winning in the USL may be to not only score in high quantity but also to make sure the offense can come from any direction. One of the biggest problems FCC had last year was goal production outside of the forward position; 54% of the goals were scored by the forwards. That likely changes this year.

Preseason MVP?

The ‚ÄúPreseason MVP‚ÄĚ is an absurd concept, but so far, we‚Äôve seen some strong midfield performances, and if such an award existed, Lance Laing would garner a lot of votes. His movement along the left has provided speed and skill, and the crosses he‚Äôs delivered in previous games have been precise.

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Lance Laing

Laing’s goal from outside the box right before halftime against Nashville was deceptively filthy, catching the corner of the net past Pickens. While he put more shots on frame in the second half, Laing’s approach and hustle appeared to be contagious, as Blake Smith shook off a frustrating first half to burst up the side from feeds by Laing. Good things are happening on that side, which should also open Manu Ledesma on the opposite side of the field when the defense focuses on Laing.

Defensive Concerns

While it has been hard to let Harrison Delbridge leave for Melbourne City and watch Austin Berry retire, it’s safe to say that the FCC crowd has rallied behind the new pieces in the defensive line.

Early in the game, Dekel Keinan suffered a brutal and bloody injury over his right eye from contact during a header in the Nashville box. Keinan could have easily been taken out as a precaution. But after a few minutes on the ground, he patiently got medical treatment on the sidelines, then returned to the game to play a full 70 minutes. While it’s great to see Keinan stick it out, this was a scary moment that almost brought out the stretcher.

Let’s hope it’s merely a flesh wound.

While Keinan and Forrest Lasso played solid defense, the second squad’s late foul for a penalty kick is still a cause for concern. FC Cincinnati has given up only four goals in five games so far, but two have been from the penalty spot. The team will have to reverse the trend from last year, as they gave up many more penalty kick goals (8) than they created (3).

Who’s The New Mitch?

Spencer Richey looked relatively solid in net over the full 90 minutes, despite giving up a sun-screened first-half goal and a penalty-kick goal that went out of reach. So it’s still hard to say how Koch and goalkeeper coach Jack Stern will deploy the trio of goalkeepers this season.

On one hand, Richey has played the most minutes of all three goalkeepers and has played in all five games in some capacity. However, Richey and Village have both given up the four preseason goals, while Newton has not yielded any yet. An argument can be made that Newton hasn‚Äôt been fully tested yet, so it’s still difficult to make a final decision.

What we can assume is that it’s a two-keeper race for now, as Village appears to be in place for third on the depth chart. The game versus Sacramento should spell out the goalkeeping situation between Richey and Newton. Realistically, it appears that Koch can have more confidence in playing two goalkeepers than he did in 2017.

One More Week

The Orange & Blue will wrap up their preseason schedule this week with a match at Gettler Stadium versus the University of Cincinnati on Wednesday, followed by the first 2018 game in Nippert Stadium against Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday. By then, the team should be set in stone and ready to start the 2018 USL season.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press as we wrap up¬†FC Cincinnati’s 2018¬† preseason slate.

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Richie Ryan

FC Cincinnati Rights the Ship, Targets Home Playoff Games

A deeper look at FC Cincinnati’s victory over Saint Louis FC and what it means for their home playoff prospects.

FC Cincinnati earned a hard fought but well deserved victory over Saint Louis FC¬†at Nippert Stadium on Monday afternoon. For play-by-play¬†details of the games’ events, see the articles featured in our¬†news post from Monday.¬†This article intends¬†to delve deeper into the cookie jar and see what treats are hidden underneath the top layer.

Photos

 

Four Numbers 

The following four numbers help to tell the tale of how this match unfolded.

89 – The temperature in degrees Fahrenheit at kickoff. After a week of lovely weather in the true Queen City (as evidenced by the Queen City Cup), Monday’s¬†match against Saint Louis FC was played under scorching conditions at Nippert Stadium. The official air temperature may have been 89 degrees but it was much hotter on Nippert’s field turf surface. While on the field taking match photos, my iPhone literally stopped working because it was too hot.¬†Fans on the sunny East side of the stadium were leaving their seats during the match and retreating into the upper shade to find respite¬†from the swelter. FC Cincinnati continues to pack the house this season despite a notable lack of support¬†from Mother Nature. 17,145 showed up. Kudos Cincinnati.

2 – The number of key starters that¬†Saint Louis FC was missing due to international call-ups. Leading goalscorer Irvin Herrera and starting goalkeeper Ryan Thompson¬†were both absent from this match, representing El Salvador¬†and Jamaica respectively. This was a¬†quality win for FC Cincinnati but it’s important to understand the diminished strength of the opponent coming into the match.

11 – The jersey number of √Ālvaro Anton Ripoll, who had an impactful performance in Monday’s victory. Ripoll¬†has started the last 2 matches in the place of injured Omar Cummings, playing¬†on the right side of FC Cincinnati’s front three. The 22 year old native of Madrid, Spain was involved in everything the Orange and Blue did offensively and played with a¬†passion¬†that¬†will soon make him a fan favorite.

9 –¬†STAT CORRECTED:¬†The average number¬†of shots¬†taken by FC Cincinnati in their 3 games against the Charlotte Independence, NY Red Bulls II,¬†and Rochester Rhinos. FC Cincinnati had 16 total shots in Monday’s game against¬†Saint Louis FC, emphasizing their improved offensive productivity. Of those 16, only 4 shots were on goal though (including the 2 actual goals). The offensive effort was much better overall, but FC Cincinnati will need to be more ruthless in front of goal come playoff time.

Quotable [Press Conference]

John Harkes:

“We created so many chances today. In the first half that was some of the best soccer I‚Äôve seen all year.”

“The fan base actually pushed us on today. It‚Äôs unlike¬†anything else in the league. It doesn‚Äôt matter about the quantity but about the quality of the fans. It¬†drives the guys. It is fantastic. It really is.”

Ugo Okoli:

“To be honest after the first half that I had, I knew I was gonna get one.” (You’ve got to love¬†that striker’s confidence)

√Ālvaro Ripoll:

“It felt amazing to play in front of this crowd. I was worried about my fitness, but I could have played 3 games in front of this crowd.” ¬†(I highly recommend that you watch Ripoll in the press conference, the genuine excitement¬†in his eyes to be starting and performing comes through in an amazing way).

Playoff Picture

FC Cincinnati has reclaimed their 3rd place position in the Eastern Conference after this result. With four games left in the season, earning the right to play at Nippert in the postseason must be the focus for the Orange and Blue.

The bad news is that last week’s poor results put a big dent in FCC’s chances of catching the top two. Overtaking second place Louisville City FC¬†is possible,¬†but it will take a perfect season’s end and some help.

The good news is that all of the remaining opponents are in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference standings, so FCC has a good opportunity to maximize points. They will have to contend with pressure from the chasing pack though. There are four teams just behind FC Cincinnati poised to overtake them if they slip up. Negative results in the final stanza of the season could leave the Orange and Blue seeded fifth through eighth, which would mean no home playoff game.

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FC Cincinnati vs Rochester – Match Notes

Key events, photos, stats and quotes from FC Cincinnati’s 1-1 draw with the Rochester Rhinos on August 24th.

FC Cincinnati played to a 1-1 draw with the Rochester Rhinos on Wednesday in front of 14,157 at Nippert Stadium. The match represents the third 1-1 result FC Cincinnati has tallied¬†in the¬†past four matches. For play-by-play details of the game’s events, see the articles referenced in our recap roundup segment.

Twenty Five Photos

 

Four Numbers

These four numbers tell the tale of how this match unfolded.

3 – The number of defenders employed by FC Cincinnati in their new-look 3-5-2 formation. Both Kenney Walker and Paul Nicholson returned to¬†full fitness for the match and the formation change was likely an attempt to make room for the team’s best players and adapt to frontman Okoli being absent due to yellow card accumulation.

9 –¬†The number of first half¬†shots by Rochester compared to FC Cincinnati’s 3. Many expected the Rhinos to come to Cincinnati and simply get behind the ball, try not to concede, and play on the counter. They actually did quite the opposite by possessing the ball, attacking, and¬†creating more chances in the first half of play. For example, in the first 20 minutes possession was equal, and Rochester had 2 more passes, a 3-1 advantage in¬†shots and a 4-1 advantage in¬†corner kicks.

2 РThe number of total shots on goal by FC Cincinnati in the match, equal to their lowest total of the year (and last seen in the 0-0 result vs. Louisville City on June 25th). Credit is due to Rochester and their coach Bob Lilley who pride themselves on having a stout defense. Lead forward Omar Cummings left the match after a 37th minute injury, and FC Cincinnati clearly struggled to create without Cummings and Okoli on the field. As mentioned before, the Rhinos also limited chances by controlling possession, especially in the first half.

30¬†– The number of seconds of playing time¬†between the restart of play (following the Cummings injury) and Rochester’s equalizing goal. The Orange and Blue were playing down a man¬†when Steevan Dos Santos thundered home the near post equalizer for Rochester in the 42nd minute. Some pointed to a gap of 4 minutes between the injury and the substitution as a reason for the goal.¬†However, not¬†having the lead striker on the field seemed to¬†have little impact on¬†the events leading up to Rochester’s¬†goal. Perhaps Cummings could have provided ball pressure to prevent Rochester’s build-up, but two defenders were beaten on FC Cincinnati’s right and 3 defenders watched¬†as Dos Santos found space to collect and shoot.

Quotable (from John Harkes who was upbeat in the press conference)

“How disappointed we are with getting a point (against the defending champions) is a great sign of our¬†character…We have a great team in there.”

On Omar Cummings’ injury: “It looked like a hyperextended knee…We’re just hoping he’s ok and we’re looking to get him back as soon as possible. He’s a very important part of the team.”

On FC Cincinnati’s¬†next game against NY Red Bulls II, a homecoming for Harkes (he also was an assistant coach for¬†the Red Bulls’ MLS side): “I grew up playing 5-a-side games on the Harrison courts, literally 200 yards from the (Red Bulls) stadium…it brings back good memories of childhood and creates that passion for the game.”

Competition

FC Cincinnati’s next opponent, NY Red Bulls II, were also in action on Wednesday¬†and defeated Toronto FC II away from home to pick up their 4th consecutive league win. That¬†win creates a 10 point gap between the Eastern conference leading “Baby Bulls” and FC Cincinnati. It’s beginning to look very difficult for FC Cincinnati to have a¬†chance at winning the Eastern Conference, but they could still secure a playoff spot this weekend depending on how results play out.¬†The only other Eastern Conference match on Wednesday¬†saw Pittsburgh defeat Wilmington by a score of 4-1.

The match against NY Red Bulls II is at 5:30pm ET on Sunday at Red Bull Arena. That contest will be followed by another Wednesday match as the Orange and Blue travel to Charlotte to take on the Independence on August 31st.

FC Cincinnati vs Charleston – Match Notes

Key events, statistics, quotes and photos from FC Cincinnati’s 1-1 draw with the Charleston Battery.

FC Cincinnati played the Charleston Battery to a 1-1 draw in front of a crowd of over 19K at Nippert Stadium on Saturday. For play-by-play details of the game’s events, see the sources referenced in our¬†recap roundup segment.

Photos 

Special thanks to photographer Joe Craven for the images in this week’s match notes.

 

Match Notes

Don’t Fix It –¬†The Orange and Blue lined up in the same formation¬†they used with such success against Louisville City last weekend. One personnel change came in the form of¬†Derek Luke starting¬†at right back in place of Pat McMahon. Kenney Walker and Paul Nicholson were unavailable for the match due to injury.

Scoreless First – Both goalies came up with 1 big save in the first half to keep the score level at 0’s. The Battery had a very good chance to go up a goal in the 16th minute following¬†quality¬†combination play between Williams and Garbanzo, but Hildebrandt¬†denied the opportunity.¬†Andrew Wiedeman had a right-footed rocket from 25+ yards saved by Tambakis near the end of the first half.

Scoring at UC –¬†Omar Cummings scored his first league goal at Nippert 6¬†minutes after the start of the second half.¬†The the crowd erupted in approval for the former Cincinnati State and UC product.

No Delbo in Canada – Harrison Delbridge picked up a yellow card in the second half, his 5th of the season. Because of yellow card accumulation¬†he will serve a 1 game suspension and be unavailable for Wednesday’s match against FC Montreal. Keep in mind that Paul Nicholson is also injured so we¬†could see Evan Lee start against the Canadian club.

SMH¬†– The goal FC Cincinnati conceded was¬†one to forget frankly. It was a corner kick sent directly into the center of the 6 yard box (very close to goal). A couple of nearby defenders didn’t even jump for it and Mitch was beat to the ball by Cordoves.

Late Battery РCharleston had a glorious chance to equalize in the 83rd minute. Charleston substitute Tsonis connected with a point blank header in the box that rattled the crossbar and was scrambled off the line by Hildebrandt. The Orange and Blue were also extremely lucky that Harrison Delbridge was not called for a handball in the box during stoppage time following his sliding tackle. FC Cincinnati has been on the wrong end of some bad refereeing decisions but this one went their way, and was probably worth a point.

Hildebrandt hurt?¬†– Mitch Hildebrandt has played¬†every minute so far for the Orange and Blue in the USL regular season. Late in the game he suffered an apparent shoulder injury that didn’t force¬†him to leave the game, but put him in some discomfort. Let’s hope he heals quickly and is fit to play in Montreal.

Interesting Stat

FC Cincinnati’s dominated many of the game’s statistics (shots, shots on goal, far fewer fouls conceded). One category they did not dominate however was corner kicks. Charleston had 8 corner kicks to FC Cincinnati’s 2, and the FCC¬†lead was undone by¬†one of those eight byline set pieces.

Quotable

‚ÄúOnce I saw Jimmy get the ball, I knew he was going to go for the cross. I knew I would have to¬†anticipate where it would go, and once it was past Ugo, I just reacted.‚ÄĚ –Omar Cummings on his goal

‚ÄúOne thing we keep telling our guys that there will be games where you feel you dominated the game,¬†but it may not reflect in the score. We were a bit unlucky, we certainly could have scored the second¬†goal to go ahead and lock it up.‚ÄĚ –John Harkes

Standouts

The three offensive¬†players behind¬†Okoli were very good¬†in this match. Omar¬†Cummings was the bona fide¬†scoring threat all match and converted in the¬†51st minute. Andrew¬†Wiedeman and Jimmy¬†McLaughlin worked hard to create all night, resulting¬†in several quality chances. They couldn’t¬†find the second goal though, a problem that has plagued the team at times this season.

Competition

A draw against Charleston is a decent result, but conceding the 70th minute equalizer and another¬†nervy finish put a damper on proceedings at Nippert. The draw keeps Harkes’ men in 3rd place, above Charleston in the standings. Results away for Nippert were very favorable for the Orange and Blue. The top two teams in the Eastern Conference both lost allowing FCC to gain a point on each. Richmond moves into 5 place on goal difference over Rochester after their big win against¬†NY Red Bulls II.

The Orange and Blue are now 4 points behind league leaders Louisville City with a game in hand. They are in prime position to make a run at the top of the table with 10 games remaining in the USL regular season. The Orange and Blue are back in action Wednesday as they head north of the border to face last place FC Montreal. No rest for the weary.

FC Cincinnati vs LCFC – Match Notes

Key events, statistics, quotes and photos from FC Cincinnati’s 2-0 victory over Louisville City FC.

FC Cincinnati earned a statement victory Saturday afternoon when they defeated local rival Louisville City FC 2-0 at Nippert Stadium. Andrew Wiedeman and Sean Okoli turned in the goals for the Orange and Blue.¬†For play-by-play details of the game’s events, see our recap roundup¬†segment.

Photos

 

Match Notes

Injury Impact – Kenney Walker, Ross Tomaselli and Paul Nicholson were all injured and absent for this match. As a result, Corben Bone started in defensive midfield.¬†Andrew Wiedeman, who has typically featured on the right side of FC Cincinnati’s attack played centrally¬†behind Sean Okoli, with Cummings then shifting¬†to the right.

C’mon Man – Sean Okoli clearly should have been awarded a penalty in the 13th minute when he was tripped up in the box by a Louisville defender. The Orange and Blue have been on the wrong end of some poor refereeing decisions this week.

Night and Day – What a dramatic contrast between the first half of this match and the first half¬†when these two sides¬†played in Louisville in June. In that away match, Louisville dominated possession and peppered the FC Cincinnati goal with shots. In yesterday’s first half, FCC goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt had almost nothing to do.

Set Piece Success – Both goals came from set pieces.¬†The first goal followed a FC Cincinnati free kick that was poorly cleared by LCFC and fell to Wiedeman. Okoli thundered home the second goal from a corner kick. As good as Okoli’s finish was, LCFC’s goalkeeper¬†Ranjitsingh was in absolute “no man’s land” on the corner kick, perhaps disoriented by the sun’s angle.

Dodging Bullets РFC Cincinnati did benefit from some luck in this match, and frankly, they were due for some. Louisville had two second half efforts hit the post that could have changed the complexion of this game.

Nice Moves –¬†The ever-reliable Pat McMahon had a rough first half and was likely suffering from fatigue due to the recent heavy schedule of matches. Derek Luke came on in his place at the start of the 2nd half.¬†Shortly after the 2nd goal, Harkes¬†replaced¬†Okoli with Mohomed and went to a more true 4-5-1 formation.¬†This was likely done¬†to help protect the lead and may also have been influenced by the fact that Okoli has 4 yellow cards and will serve a game suspension if he picked up another. It’s obviously critical to have Ugo¬†on the field next weekend for the Charleston match.

Perfect game? This was the first time this season that everything seemed to come¬†together in a single match for Cincinnati. Their attack¬†was opportunistic and the defense shut down¬†one of the best¬†offensive units in the USL. They also retained¬†the lead¬†to the game’s conclusion, keeping a¬†clean sheet. This may not have truly been a “must win” game for FC Cincinnati, but they sure played like it was.

The Difference – FC Cincinnati captured the River Cities Cup on goal difference. All the goals mattered of course, but Pat McMahon’s stoppage time consolation goal in the first match in¬†April proved to be vital in capturing the cup.

Key Stats

Louisville City had 15 total shots, but only 3 of the 15 (20%) were on goal. Typically, close to 44% of LCFC’s¬†shots are on target. FC Cincinnati’s defense also limited USL leading goalscorer Chandler Hoffman to 2 total shots on the afternoon.

FC Cincinnati snapped Louisville City FC’s 17 league unbeaten streak. They had not lost a match since April 2nd.

Quotable

“Corben Bone was absolutely for me the man of the match without a doubt. The way that he led on the field from a central position was excellent.” –John Harkes

‚ÄúWe had a back four, then pretty much 6 offensive players out there‚Ķ.I think the coaching staff gambled, and had a game plan that we executed‚Ķ.and here we are with 3 points.” ¬†–Andrew Wiedeman

On the heat: ‚ÄúIt was miserable, that was probably the hottest pitch I‚Äôve ever played on. Three minutes in we were all walking on the sides of our feet because it was so damn hot out there.” –Andrew Wiedeman

‚ÄúMitch did a great job saying no today” –Harrison Delbridge

Standout Players

Andrew Wiedeman –¬†He scored the first and deciding goal in the match. Typically part of the front 3, he adapted well a¬†his more withdrawn central role, working tirelessly with and without the¬†ball. It’ll be interesting to see if we see him start in that position again.

Corben Bone –¬†John Harkes heaped praise on Bone in the post-match press conference. Bone, playing out of position in a defensive midfield role,¬†protected the back 4, picking¬†up the ball from them and distributing it to the attacking players.

Eric Stevenson –¬†He only played 70 of the 90, but used the ball intelligently¬†all afternoon. He also embraced the defensive responsibilities placed on him, something we haven’t really seen from him before.

Competition

One cannot emphasize enough how important this victory was for the Orange and Blue.¬†If¬†Harkes’ men¬†had lost to Louisville it would have opened up an 11 point gap in the standings between the two sides. With the win, FC Cincinnati are only 5 points back with a game in hand. Results away from Nippert were favorable as well.¬†Fourth place Charleston Battery defeated second place NY Red Bulls II 3-2 in New Jersey, a result that helps keep NY within touching distance.¬†Fifth place Rochester drew with Bethlehem Steel 1-1 on Sunday afternoon. Visit the USL site for the full Eastern Conference standings.

There’s another huge game next Saturday¬†at Nippert when the Charleston Battery come to town. The Battery are only 2 points behind the Orange and Blue and will be full of confidence after their win in New Jersey.

FC Cincinnati vs NYRBII – Match Notes

Key events, interesting stats, quotes and photos from FC Cincinnati’s 2-1 loss to NY Red Bull II.

FC Cincinnati lost 2-1 to New York Red Bull II at Nippert Stadium on Wednesday. The Orange and Blue conceded two goals after the 80th minute to lose grasp of a¬†lead earned by Jimmy McLaughlin earlier in the second half. For play-by-play details of the games’ events, see the articles featured in the¬†recap roundup.

The conclusion of this¬†match was brutal. I felt¬†like a husky¬†kid who did all his chores, saved up enough money to buy a whole load¬†of candy, and just as I was starting to unwrap the first piece, some muscle-bound guy from New Jersey¬†(think¬†the Situation)¬†kicked me in pants and stole every last treat…then I was immediately run over by a scooter while the driver mumbled¬†ciao¬†out of the side of his mouth…then it started raining as I lay there in disbelief, …acid rain. You get the idea. Tough loss. Let’s keep this brief as there are better days and important matches ahead.

Photos

Match Notes

FC Cincinnati were put under heavy pressure in the first half and were fortunate not to concede a goal. Credit is due to the team for keeping the game scoreless and adapting to the 13th minute injury to Kenney Walker, a critical component of the FCC midfield. Walker suffered a turf related injury to the arch of his foot that affected his ability to plant and push off, forcing the substitution.

Injuries are mounting in central midfield for the Orange and Blue. Corben Bone started Wednesday but was just returning after missing the Crystal Palace friendly. Ross Tomaselli was injured in that same friendly and unavailable for this match. Paul Nicholson is a defensive midfielder by trade and can cover¬†if Walker can’t go Saturday. That would mean Austin Berry likely needs to start and play the bulk of 2 full matches over 4 days though. Let’s hope Walker’s injury is minor.

This was a physical contest¬†with 28 fouls called and 6 yellow cards issued between the two teams. It was also a game littered with refereeing controversies. One critical decision went against FCC¬†in the 52nd minute, when a high boot to the face of Austin Berry didn’t result in a second booking for NY forward Junior Flemmings.

The foul given at the top of the box against Harrison Delbridge in the 81st minute, which precipitated the first goal, was also very questionable.

Team captain Austin Berry, who is just returning from injury, was substituted off in the 80th minute due to fatigue. The two goals were conceded in the 6¬†minutes that followed. His departure¬†was not the reason the goals were conceded. Berry commented himself that he was basically out of gas and the substitution was warranted. It does underline that his leadership and continued return to health are critical¬†for FCC’s defense going forward.

Although disappointed, John Harkes’ was surprisingly upbeat in his post match comments. I think this in part speaks to the quality of the NY Red Bulls II side. There is certainly no shame in losing to that squad. When looking at the game as a whole, the opposition probably deserved at least a point based on¬†the way they played and based on¬†the number of opportunities they created. The late manner in which the match was lost and the questionable calls certainly leave a very bitter taste though.

Despite losing the match, the club set the USL single season attendance record on Wednesday. The match brought their regular season attendance total to 164,109 with 5 home matches still remaining. The record was previously held by Sacramento Republic FC (158,516). Congratulations to this city and to the FC Cincinnati organization, the records keep tumbling.

Match Stat

Sean Okoli and Omar Cummings together¬†had only 3 total shots in the match with 0¬†shots on target. This stat shouldn’t necessarily be read as an indictment of the strikers though. New York sustained good possession throughout and their defense did a good job of shutting down¬†service to FCC’s¬†front men.¬†NY¬†Red Bulls II more than doubled FCC’s shot total with 16 total shots to FCC’s 7.

Standout Players

Jimmy McLaughlin – He¬†scored the lone goal for FCC¬†and followed it with a peach of a¬†celebration. Statistically, Jimmy Mac sits 2nd in goals, points, shots, and shots on target behind Okoli, making him clearly the Orange and Blue’s 2nd most proficient offensive player.

Harrison Delbridge – Delbridge started on the bench for this match, but entered after Walker left with the injury.¬†The Sydney, Australia native¬†has an unbelievable work rate and is committed in¬†every challenge. He was also needed for¬†some last gasp defending when the Baby Bulls got behind the back line on a couple of occasions. He’s a crowd favorite¬†and shouts of “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi” echoed out all evening from¬†the Bailey.

Quotable

“We’re too good of a team to really get our heads down low and let this affect us in a negative way.” — John Harkes

Regarding the attendance record: “Our fans are really second to none. They are certainly the best in the U.S. and rival even some abroad”. ¬†–Mitch Hildebrandt

Competition

Louisville City FC and Charlotte were not active last night. Fifth place Rochester did play and drew 1-1 with Toronto FC II in Canada, a favorable result for the Orange and Blue. FCC stay in 3rd place despite Wednesday’s¬†loss, but are now 7 points behind NY Red Bulls II and 8 behind Louisville City. In a conference¬†where 8 of the 15 teams will make the playoffs, you can’t call Saturday’s game against Louisville City a must win. However, if the Orange and Blue have any notions to getting to the top of the Eastern Conference, they must start closing the gap this weekend in the 3rd and deciding game of the Dirty River Derby.

FC Cincinnati vs Crystal Palace – Match Notes

Key events, interesting stats, and standout players from FC Cincinnati’s 2-0 loss to Crystal Palace.

The Orange and Blue lost 2-0 to the English Premier League’s¬†Crystal Palace FC¬†on Saturday in front of a sold-out Nippert Stadium. For play-by-play details of the contest, check out¬†our recap post.

A few images from Saturday’s contest:

 

Interesting Information Nuggets

The record attendance set Saturday evening, the highest attendance for a soccer match played in the state of Ohio, will again get national and even international headlines. Here is the first of several plaudits from¬†news sources:¬†UK’s telegraph. It will likely be short-lived though. At the end of July, Real Madrid and PSG will play at Ohio State’s Horseshoe and that attendance will almost certainly eclipse this record. It’ll be nice while it lasts though.

While over 35,000 fans packed Nippert Stadium, over 30,000 fans checked out the¬†USL’s live stream of the match on Facebook. The match is still out there to view if you are interested.

Corben Bone was curiously absent from the game.¬†Let’s hope it’s not due to injury. You’d have to believe¬†that he would have participated if fully fit.

A couple of other injury concerns cast a small shadow over this otherwise magnificent event. Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha picked up an ankle injury that saw him leave the field on crutches. Ross Tomaselli also left the game limping and wincing in pain after entering as a second half substitute.

FC Cincinnati captain and Cincinnati native Austin Berry got his first start for FC Cincinnati since his April thigh injury. One would expect him to start in some or all of the heavy schedule of games that follows this friendly.

FC Cincinnati created several quality¬†chances to score a goal in this match. It’s a shame they couldn’t convert one of them because a goal would have taken an already ecstatic¬†crowd to fever pitch. There were no less than 5 gilt-edged chances to grab a goal (Nicholson 4′, Cummings 44′, McLaughlin 46′, Mohomed 51′, Luke 85′). In some cases Palace snuffed out the chance, for others FCC just missed the opportunity.

What a performance by 3rd string goalkeeper Dan Williams who had 3 saves during the short period of time he played in the second half. His performance and highlight reel stop to deny a certain Andros Townsend goal earned him man of the match honors from the Star 64 commentary crew.

Kudos to the coaching staff for making sure almost everyone on the team got an opportunity to play and participate in this historic game. Paul Nicholson, a native of Whitehaven, England, also got a start in midfield. Classy stuff.

Congratulations are in order to the USL’s Richmond Kickers, who played and defeated the Premier League’s Swansea City¬†2-0 last night. #USLRising

Match Stat

Crystal Palace committed¬†14 fouls to FC Cincinnati’s 8. Typically one would expect the USL side to be doing more of the fouling, to disrupt the passing and minimize scoring chances of their higher league¬†opposition. This game had physicality to it, especially for a friendly match. Several collisions produced stops in the game so players could receive¬†treatment.

Quality Quotes

John Harkes

“From the big picture you always want to get players to develop. I thought our boys played really¬†well. They created chances. Overall, big picture, the guys played really well. It was a great¬†occasion for everyone, the city, the club, everyone.”

Omar Cummings

“I think when you play against greater competition, it allows you to be a better player. Whatever¬†we have learned from this game, we are going to take it to the next game on Wednesday and¬†just get better.

Dan Williams –

“I had so many friends and family from far way come [tonight]. Just trying to see what I do in¬†practice. It‚Äôs unbelievable. Every day is a dream come true. I am just so happy right now.”

Competition

With FC Cincinnati idle in USL league play due to this friendly, the top 2 in the Eastern conference made¬†progress in the standings. Second¬†place NY Red Bulls II, FCC’s next opponent, continued their winning ways and defeated¬†the¬†Charlotte Independence 2-1 at Ramblewood. Louisville City also won on the road by demolishing the Wilmington Hammerheads in NC 4-1.

Next, 3rd place FC Cincinnati will turn their attention to a stretch of 3 matches over 11 days that will shape who sits on top of the Eastern Conference at the end of the season.

July 20 – NY Red Bulls II (2nd place)

July 23 – Louisville City (1st place ) – also the last match of the River Cities Cup (i.e.: “Dirty River Derby”)

July 30 – Charleston Battery (4th place)

Come back to Orange and Blue Press this week for more insight, analysis and color commentary on FC Cincinnati.

LCFC vs FC Cincinnati – Match Notes

Orange and Blue Press offers a few match notes as we look back on Saturday’s goalless draw against Louisville City.

Orange and Blue Press offers a few match notes¬†as we look back on Saturday’s goalless draw against Louisville City.

Match Notes

Fan Support¬†– While congratulations are in order for LCFC on their record setting attendance, it was a little surprising that they reached their highest total during this match¬†at¬†just over 10K people. The supporters that they have are fantastic (although I don’t get all the purple superhero crap) but a team as good as theirs deserves more¬†support. Let’s hope this match can serve as an impetus for¬†Louisville to get behind their team in greater numbers. The FCC support was, as always, phenomenal and¬†this match underlines how special what’s going on with FC Cincinnati¬†really is.

FCC-Fans

First Half –¬†Harkes said this¬†at halftime and everyone that watched will¬†agree that the performance¬†was likely¬†the worst half of football that FCC has played this season. Louisville City completely dominated possession, created a litany of chances, and could have easily scored 2-3 goals. FCC barely had a sniff at goal and quite simply couldn’t retain possession. It was often pass-pass, long ball, with possession then turning right back over to the home side. Credit is due to LCFC. They are a better team than FCC right now. But we didn’t perform to our potential. I bet John Harkes can give a good hairdryer treatment and I suspect that’s what happened in the dressing room at halftime on Saturday night.

Second Half РAfter being thoroughly outplayed in the first half, the players and coaching staff did make adjustments and play a more competitively in the second. Credit is due for holding onto the draw and getting a very hard earned point, although it did take some luck to get that result.

Interesting Stat

The stat that jumps off the page from this match is shots. LCFC’s domination of possession led to very few chances for FC Cincinnati. FCC¬†had 7 total shots on goal with 2 shots on target, both season lows for the Orange and Blue. This is also the first time that FCC has failed to score in a contest since the season opener against Charleston.

FCC-Offensive-Stats

Stand Outs

This was not a vintage performance by FC Cincinnati by any measure. I think the players and  the coaching staff would tell you the same.

Mitch Hildebrandt РMitch had 4 saves over the course of the match. Although most were saves you would expect him to make, there was one particular save in 14th minute that was outstanding and preserved the clean sheet.

Harrison Delbridge –¬†Although the entire defense, including Delbridge, struggled against LCFC’s first half blitz, Delbridge was the center piece of FCC’s effort to hold onto the goalless draw.

Andrew Wiedeman –¬†Wiedeman seemed like one of the few¬†players in the FCC squad that had the composure¬†and technical ability to retain possession against LCFC’s pressing defense. Although he couldn’t make a great impact offensively, he was one of few that stood out as having a positive impact throughout the match.

The Competition

Harkes’ men remain in 3rd position after this weekend’s draw on 28 points. Louisville City is 7 points clear on top but have played 2 more matches. Unfortunately, most of FCC’s close competition gained ground. New York Red Bulls II, Charleston, Charlotte, and Rochester all won this weekend. Despite this fact, getting a point away at Louisville is still a great result, even if the performance demonstrates that there’s work to do to get to their level. The Orange and Blue now turn their attention to 9th place Bethlehem Steel for a July 2nd matchup at Nippert Stadium.

Cover image and fan photo courtesy of FC Cincinnati