Charlotte Independence 3 – FC Cincinnati 2 – Recap Roundup

FC Cincinnati was dealt a heartbreaking road loss at the hands of the Charlotte Independence on Wednesday evening.

Photo courtesy of the Charlotte Independence

FC Cincinnati was dealt a heartbreaking road loss at the hands of the Charlotte Independence on Wednesday evening. The game was tied at 2-2 in the 85th minute when a Charlotte free kick delivered by Jorge Herrera was redirected into the Orange and Blue’s own net by FC Cincinnati defender Paul Nicholson. Adding insult to injury, the Independence were playing with only 10 men at the time the goal was scored. Charlotte defender Bilal Duckett had been sent off earlier in the second half for a second yellow card offense. Andrew Wiedeman and Sean Okoli scored the two goals for FC Cincinnati. Both FCC goals came as equalizers after Charlotte had taken the lead.

For play-by-play details of the game’s events, turn your attention to the following sources:
FC Cincinnati Official
USL
Cincinnati Soccer Talk
Enquirer
Charlotte Post

Despite the loss, FC Cincinnati claimed the Queen City Cup on away goals. The trophy was awarded to the team with the best results over the two legs played between FC Cincinnati and Charlotte this season. FC Cincinnati defeated the Independence by a score of 2-1 at Nippert on April 9th. The cup win seems like a small consolation for FC Cincinnati after losing two matches in a row for the first time in the club’s short history. Harkes’ men will return home to Nippert on Monday for a Labor Day fixture against the Western Conference’s Saint Louis FC. Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more analysis, stats and color commentary on Wednesday’s result.

 

FC Cincinnati Defeated in New York Amid Controversy

FC Cincinnati lost to NY Red Bulls II on Sunday evening in a match marked by refereeing controversy.

Images courtesy of New York Red Bulls II

FC Cincinnati was defeated 2-0 by the Eastern Conference’s first place NY Red Bulls II in Harrison, New Jersey on Sunday evening. Both of New York’s goals came from the penalty spot. The first penalty kick was awarded in the 14th minute and was accompanied by a red card dismissal for FC Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt. New York’s leading scorer Brandon Allen converted the penalty. The early red card reduced the Orange and Blue to 10 men and dramatically changed the complexion of the game.

Sean Okoli had a gilt-edged chance to equalize in the 63rd minute. In a rare FC Cincinnati attack that was started by Okoli’s own good hold-up play, Andrew Wiedeman delivered a delicious cross into the heart of the box from FC Cincinnati’s right. Okoli beat his marker and lunged to toe poke the ball home but could not connect.

New York’s Derrick Etienne Jr. added an insurance goal from the penalty spot in the 91st minute after FC Cincinnati had battled valiantly for 77 minutes to keep the match at 1-0. 

Both goals were accompanied by controversial refereeing decisions. The penalty call leading to the first goal was reviewed by VAR (Video Assistant Referee), an experimental USL video replay system installed for New York Red Bulls II home games. The play leading to the foul had initially been called offside by the assistant referee before the foul and penalty were awarded. After VAR review, the referee overturned the offside call, awarded the penalty and issued a red card to Hildebrandt. When the penalty was called initially, no card was issued. The video seems to show forward Brandon Allen in a clear offside position when Tyler Adams shoots (see 8th minute).

The second penalty kick was awarded to New York based on a Sean Okoli slide tackle challenge in the box on Derrick Etienne Jr. Okoli appeared to get the ball first, despite Etienne’s dramatic fall and subsequent tumble. Astonishingly, VAR did not appear to be used to confirm the penalty decision and Etienne converted the penalty to ice the game.

Despite the result, FC Cincinnati stamped their ticket to the USL playoffs over the weekend. On Saturday, the two teams that could have potentially displaced the Orange and Blue for a playoff spot, Bethlehem and Wilmington, had negative results. These results mathematically confirmed that FCC would be part of the 8 teams that qualify for the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

Omar Cummings missed the match due to a knee injury sustained during last Wednesday’s match against the Rochester Rhinos. There is still no official prognosis on Cummings so stay tuned for information on the extent of his injury. Interestingly, center back Harrison Delbridge was omitted from the starting lineup for tonight’s contest. He did enter the match in the 54th as a substitute in place of Paul Nicholson. One assumes his absence was likely a combination of fatigue and minor injury and the coaching staff opted to rest him given the 3 match gauntlet FC Cincinnati is facing over an 8 day period.

Stand Outs

Sean Okoli – FC Cincinnati’s target man battled hard as the lead forward all night. He did his best to hold up play and take pressure off the defense despite New York’s relentless attack after Hildebrandt was sent off.

Dallas Jaye – FC Cincinnati’s backup goalkeeper saw his first action of the season, entering the match after Hildebrandt’s dismissal. Although he couldn’t stop either penalty kick, he acquitted himself very well overall. He made two fine saves from close range in the first half to keep the game at 1-0 and give FCC a chance.

Jaye.jpg

Interesting Stat

The stats from this match are more depressing than interesting from an FC Cincinnati perspective. The early red card allowed New York to dominate possession and offensive opportunities as expected. Despite being a man up, the Baby Bulls managed to commit twice as many fouls as FC Cincinnati, 16 to 8. New York substitute Noah Powder was also issued a straight red in stoppage time for a dangerous tackle on Corben Bone.

Looking Forward

The loss drops FC Cincinnati from 3rd to 4th place in the Eastern Conference with 6 games remaining. The Richmond Kickers now occupy 3rd place on goal difference but have played one more match. There won’t be time for Harkes’ men to dwell on this result. They must now turn their attention to an away game against the Charlotte Independence on Wednesday, August 31st. That match is make-up tie for a game cancelled earlier in the season due to severe weather and poor field conditions.

Return to Orange and Blue Press for more analysis and color commentary on FC Cincinnati leading up to the Charlotte match.

 

FC Cincinnati at Richmond Kickers – Speaking in Numbers

Stats and analysis that tell the tale of FC Cincinnati’s Saturday contest against the Richmond Kickers.

FC Cincinnati played to a 1-1 stalemate with the Richmond Kickers away from home on Saturday. For play-by-play details of the game’s events, see the articles featured in our recap roundup segment.

It turns out that most people don’t like to read about draws. Once people know there was nothing to separate the sides on the field, that’s all they really need to know. So let’s keep this brief. The short synopsis for this match is that a point on the road against the fourth place team and one of the hottest teams in the USL is a decent enough result.

The first half was very even. In fact from a numbers perspective, it was exactly even.

Halftime-Statistics

That’s something you don’t see very often.

Here are a few more numbers that help tell the tale of the match:

4 – The number of shots on target for both FC Cincinnati and Richmond, with each team converting 1 of the 4 opportunities. FC Cincinnati had a close range Wiedeman header touched over the crossbar by Richmond goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra in the 2nd minute of play. If that ball had found the back of the net, an early lead for the Orange and Blue could have changed the complexion of this match.

2 – Number of combined shots produced by Omar Cummings and Shawn Okoli in the match. Cummings has been fantastic of late and Okoli is coming off a 2 goal performance against FC Montréal. Richmond’s tough-nosed defense effectively shut down two of FC Cincinnati’s most prominent danger men. Cummings had 0 shots and was replaced by Antoine Hoppenot in the 68th minute.

45 – Number of minutes played by both Derek Luke and Pat McMahon at FC Cincinnati’s right back position. These two players split the match with Luke starting and McMahon featuring in the second half. Luke also started the July 30th Charleston match in place of McMahon, playing 90 minutes.

32 – The number of minutes played by defensive midfielder Kenney Walker who returned to action for the Orange and Blue on Saturday as a substitute. Walker has been absent from the starting lineup since he sustained a turf injury against Louisville City on July 23rd. His presence in the middle of the park will be critical for the last 8 games of FCC’s regular season.

11 – The number of days between this match and FC Cincinnati’s next contest, an August 24th clash with the Rochester Rhinos at Nippert. The Orange and Blue get another week and a half stretch of rest and recovery before they strap-in for 3 matches over 7 days to close out August.

All 3 matches feature opponents in the top half of the Eastern Conference. 2 of the 3 matches are away from home.

  • Wednesday, August 24 – Rochester Rhinos (7th)
  • Sunday, August 28 – @ New York Red Bulls II (1st)
  • Wednesday, August 31 – @ Charlotte Independence (6th)

Return to Orange and Blue Press for more statistics, color commentary and analysis on Cincinnati’s favorite football team.

Recap Roundup – FC Cincinnati at Richmond Kickers

FC Cincinnati shared the points with the Richmond Kickers in Saturday’s match at City Stadium. Read more…

FC Cincinnati played the Richmond Kickers to a 1-1 stalemate at City Stadium on Saturday evening. Andrew Wiedeman equalized for the Orange and Blue in the 81st minute after Richmond took the lead earlier in the second half.

For blow-by-blow details of the games events, take a look at the following worthy sources:

FC Cincinnati Official
USL
Scratching the Pitch
Enquirer
Richmond Times Dispatch

More recaps will be added as they become available.

FC Cincinnati now has a week and a half respite before their next match against Rochester in Cincinnati. Return to Orange and Blue Press for more analysis of Saturday’s contest and coverage leading up to their August 24th contest at Nippert.

Header image courtesy of the Richmond Kickers

FC Cincinnati vs FC Montréal – Four Numbers

Four numbers that mattered in FC Cincinnati’s 2-0 victory over FC Montréal, plus key weekend USL results and what’s ahead.

The box score for this match was released a bit later than usual, so let’s have a brief look at how this match played out by the numbers. 

FC Cincinnati picked up valuable road points on Wednesday, defeating FC Montréal by 2 goals in Canada. For play-by-play details of the match’s events, see the articles featured in our recap roundup segment.

Four Numbers

11 – Ugo Okoli’s regular season goal total after the brace he netted in this match. This total is good enough to bring him into a tie for 3rd in goals scored this USL season. Only Jack McBean (15) and Chandler Hoffman (14) have scored more regular season goals. Okoli had 9 total shots in the game, a season high for him.

9 – Percentage of shots by FC Montréal that were on target. FC Montréal did create some chances in the offensive third, especially in the first half, producing 11 total shots. Unfortunately for the Canadians, all but 1 of those shots was off target. A lone effort on goal by Philippe Lincourt-Joseph in the first half was easily gathered by Mitch Hildebrandt.

3 – The gap in points between Eastern Conference leaders NY Red Bulls II and third place FC Cincinnati after Wednesday’s result. Since then, Louisville City FC eked out a win against Pittsburgh 2-1 to regain the top stop. Therefore, FC Cincinnati is now 4 points off the top with a game in hand.  See the full Eastern Conference standings at the USL website.

10  – Number of days between this match and FC Cincinnati’s next contest on Saturday, August 13th. Richmond recently moved into 4th place behind FC Cincinnati, after wins on Wednesday and Saturday. Richmond has won an impressive 6 matches in a row, with 4 of those 6 being earned on the road.

What’s ahead?

The Orange and Blue will need the rest on offer this week before turning their attention to a challenging schedule for the remainder of August. Their calendar includes four total matches. Three of those four matches are on the road. Two of those four matches are Wednesday matches. All of the matches feature opponents in the top half of the Eastern Conference.

  • Saturday, August 13 – @ Richmond Kickers (4th)
  • Wednesday, August 24 – Rochester Rhinos (6th)
  • Sunday, August 28 – @ New York Red Bulls II (2nd)
  • Wednesday, August 31 – @ Charlotte Independence (7th)

Return to Orange and Blue Press soon for more statistics, color commentary and analysis on Cincinnati’s favorite football team.

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 – FC 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

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

On the heat: “It was miserable, that was probably the hottest pitch I’ve 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

“Mitch 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 2 – Louisville City FC 0

FC Cincinnati captured a statement victory on Saturday afternoon by beating local rival Louisville City FC 2-0 at Nippert Stadium.

FC Cincinnati captured a statement victory on Saturday afternoon by beating local rival Louisville City FC 2-0 at Nippert Stadium. Because they won by a two goal margin, they also claimed the River Cities Cup, a prize for the team that had the best points total over the 3 matches played between Cincinnati and Louisville this USL season. Andrew Wiedeman opened the scoring in the 39th minute from close range with a great individual effort. Sean Okoli doubled the lead in the 59th minute with an emphatic headed goal from a corner kick.

See the following worthy sources for play by play details of today’s match:

FC Cincinnati Official
Scratching the Pitch
Enquirer
USL
Cincinnati Soccer Talk
Louisville Courier Journal

Return to Orange and Blue Press tomorrow for key moments, quotes, photos and more in our Match Notes segment.

FC Cincinnati vs Harrisburg City – Match Notes

FC Cincinnati defeated the Harrisburg City Islanders (no relation to the similarly named Flint Tropics) 2-0 in front of a crowd of just over 16 thousand at Nippert Stadium Saturday.

FC Cincinnati defeated the Harrisburg City Islanders (no relation to the similarly named Flint Tropics) 2-0 in front of a crowd of just over 16 thousand at Nippert Stadium Saturday. The result takes the Orange and Blue to 6-2-2 on the season and lands them in 3rd place in USL’s Eastern Conference.

Stand Outs

Mitch Hildebrandt had 5 total saves and 3 crucial saves to preserve FC Cincinnati’s clean sheet. Without a stout net-minding performance from Mitch, Harrisburg could have easily netted two goals in the contest.

Andrew Wiedeman had a highlight-reel goal in the 19th minute that featured some great offensive interplay between Bone, Wiedeman and Pat McMahon in the build-up. He almost found the back of the net again in the 48th when he tried to loop the ball over Broom from close range.

Wiedeman
Andrew Wiedeman coils before unloading for his 3rd goal of the season.

Antoine Hoppenot had a stirring impact off the bench and created the second goal, which iced the game. It seemed that early in the season the coaching staff might have had a starting spot earmarked for Hoppenot. He had a hard time making his mark and therefore has only featured off the bench in the first third of the season. He still has time to make a big impact and this performance will likely help him secure more time on the field, especially with more mid-week games upcoming. Full credit to Ugo Okoli for dispatching the penalty.

Takeaways

The crowd was stellar. Some doubt crept into our collective minds before this match, and rightfully so. Harrisburg’s small market. They’re not a rival. It’s Memorial Day weekend. Will people show up? They did, in force. It was a great atmosphere. Kudos Cincinnati.

Crowd-Harrisburg
Cincinnati showed up. This is going to keep happening.

It was a little silly how much talk there was about FCC being rusty after having one weekend off. It seems the rest was welcome and the team looked sharp on Saturday. That rest should continue to pay dividends as they head into two matches over the 7 days that follow the Harrisburg clash.

Harrisburg forward Aaron Wheeler behaved like an ass over the 52 minutes he was on the field. If the cheek-busting challenge on Delbridge and subsequent red card wasn’t enough, check out this bit of nastiness that happened just before half-time. Hopefully the USL deals with his conduct to good effect.

Harrisburg surprisingly did not try to heavily exploit FC Cincinnati’s wide areas. Paul Wilson and José Barril tried to play through the middle more often than not which I think played into the strength of FC Cincinnati’s formation and the solid midfield core of Tomaselli and Walker.

Much has been made of Andrew Wiedeman’s fantastic hair, and rightly so. It’s amazing both on and off the field. I think that it has to be mentioned at this point that Ross Tomaselli is a dark horse for best hair performance of the season. He’s a little more J. Crew to Wiedeman’s GQ, but stylish nonetheless. This is something we’ll have to pay attention to as the season progresses.

Match recaps are good and if you want play-by-play details of Saturday’s happenings check out these worthy sources:

Cincinnati Soccer Talk (full disclosure, I am a contributor and am totally biased)

FC Cincinnati Official, DJ Switzer

Scratching the Pitch, Chad Hollingsworth – USL Yoda

Cincinnati.com, Pat Brennan

This segment needs a better name than Match Notes. Sorry, I was low on creativity by the time I got to the title. Drop a note if you have a better name at orange and blue press.

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