Atlanta United 2 1-5 FC Cincinnati: Five-Alarm Fire in Georgia

Nazmi Albadawi grabs a brace and Fatai Alashe gets his first goal in the first five-goal game in FC Cincinnati history.

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Graphic: Connor Paquette / Image: Ryan Meyer

Alan Koch and team extended their impressive unbeaten streak to fourteen with a 5-1 thrashing of Atlanta United 2 on Wednesday. The Orange & Blue are on a roll, and have won six of their last seven matches, and seven of 11 played on the road in 2018. They were without leading goalscorer and talismanic playmaker Emmanuel Ledesma for this match. The Argentine maestro was sidelined, serving a one game suspension for yellow card accumulation.

Alan Koch made three changes to the side that beat Charleston convincingly four days earlier. The changes included a debut for Pa Konate, the Swedish left fullback recently acquired from Serie A side S.P.A.L. Another storyline heading into Wednesday’s match was the goalkeeping selection for the home team. FC Cincinnati’s former U.S. Open Cup hero, Mitch Hildebrandt, minded the nets for Atlanta United 2 against his former team, and had an evening to forget.

FC Cincinnati was the early aggressor and opened the scoring in the 18th minute of play. Emery Welshman held the ball up in the box, then laid it off to Corben Bone. The Plano, TX native fired through traffic, and his deflected shot looped over Hildebrandt and into goal. Nazmi Albadawi then doubled FCC’s fun just seven minutes later. Jimmy McLaughlin’s penetrating run attracted Atlanta’s attention on the right-hand side. He dished to Nazmi in the box, who took a touch and delivered a blistering strike into the corner. Hildebrandt had a decent look at the shot and might have done better. Alan Koch’s team comfortably managed the rest of the first half and went into the break two goals to the good.

Just eight minutes after the whistle that started the second half, FC Cincinnati thumped in another pair of goals. Fatai Alashe, recently loaned from the San Jose Earthquakes (and signed to an MLS contract), grabbed his first goal in Orange & Blue, cleaning up a rebound from a close-range Nazmi Albadawi shot. Albadawi then secured his brace by scoring again just two minutes after Alashe’s goal. The score was 4-0 to FC Cincinnati and the rout was on.

Atlanta United 2 got a consolation goal in the 65th minute. Fullback Shawn Nicklaw beat Spencer Richey with a thunderous long-range effort that found the top right corner. Not to be outdone, FC Cincinnati added a record-setting (most goals-scored in a FCC game) fifth when Emery Welshman struck with just three minutes remaining in regulation.

Final Score: Atlanta United 2 1-5 FC Cincinnati

A fire alarm from an apartment building near to Coolray Stadium rang throughout the end of the first half and most of the second, inspiring the title of this match recap.

Standings Update

The second-place Pittsburgh Riverhounds dropped points on Wednesday after Tampa Bay came from behind to secure a draw at Highmark Stadium. Louisville City FC now occupies third after a convincing 3-0 victory over the Charlotte Independence. FCC is now 9 points clear on top of the USL’s Eastern Conference.

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Highlight of the Match

Nazmi Albadawi scored two goals on a night where the big question was how would FCC’s offense perform without Emmanuel Ledesma.

Quote of the Match

Fatai Alashe had the following to say about getting his first goal for FC Cincinnati in just his second start for the organization.

“Whenever a game goes like this, you want to get yourself on the score sheet – especially early in my move here. It’s nice to get a goal. I told my mom before the game I’d score so I’m sure she’s pretty happy about that. It’s a good start and it’s positive so we’ll look to continue it.” 

Stat of the Match

FC Cincinnati had 19 total shot in this match, with 10 on target for a 52.6% shooting accuracy. That ties FC Cincinnati’s highest total of the season for shots on target, and is FCC’s second highest shot total for a game in 2018. Their high shot total and high shooting accuracy paid dividends and resulted in the first five-goal game in FC Cincinnati history.

Who Started?

FC Cincinnati made three changes to the starting eleven that featured last Saturday against Charleston. Pa Konate made his FC Cincinnati debut, replacing Blake Smith at left back. Captain Dekel Keinan returned to the starting eleven after missing two matches with a minor injury. Finally, Jimmy McLaughlin deputized for the suspended Emmanuel Ledesma.

Bone (55′ Cicerone)- Albadawi – McLaughlin
Alashe (71′ Lahoud) – Walker
Konate (61 Smith) – Lasso – Keinan – Hoyte

What’s Next?

FC Cincinnati continues its road trip on Saturday with a visit to Al Lang Stadium to take on the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Tampa Bay has recently fallen from their place as one of the Eastern Conference’s elite teams. However, FC Cincinnati has never won or even scored a goal against the Rowdies in Florida. They will look to change that narrative this weekend in the Sunshine State.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 season.

Atlanta 8.22_Match Recap

Match Program: FC Cincinnati at Atlanta United 2

Design: CSDIV / Image: Ryan Meyer

The current kings of the USL Eastern Conference, FC Cincinnati leave their fortress and head south to face 15th place Atlanta United 2 on Wednesday. The midweek match comes four days after the Orange & Blue handily dispensed of third place Charleston Battery 3-0. With that win, FCC confirmed they’re the Beast of the East climbing to 51 points, well atop the conference table.

Their recent successes have come at home as they secured 16 of a possible 18 points during the six game home-stand. Wednesday will be the first of two consecutive away matches for FCC, and the second of three total games in eight days. Will the Orange & Blue go on the road and continue their unbeaten streak? Let’s consider this Wednesday’s opponent.

Atlanta United 2 are sitting near the bottom of the table in 15th place with 16 points after 22 games. Their overall record of 3-12-7 certainly isn’t remarkable; however, they’ve only lost one match while playing at home. As a matter of fact, their home record of 3-1-4 boasts wins against playoff hopefuls New York Red Bulls II and Bethlehem Steel. A draw against the defending 2017 USL Cup champions Louisville City FC in April shows they certainly can compete on their home pitch. Of the 22 total goals scored, Irish forward Jon Gallagher leads the squad with six. Defender Jack Metcalf leads the team in chances created with 19.

The two teams last met May 5th at Nippert Stadium. That match showcased the birth of a star, as Emmanuel Ledesma scored a brace in the 4-2 victory. The win was FCC’s first at home in 2018 and displayed the lethal attacking combination of Danni König and Emmanuel Ledesma. The two combined for 3 goals and 1 assist that evening.

There will be one glaring advantage for the home team in this contest, rest. Atlanta United 2 has not played a league match since August 11th when they lost at Charleston Battery 0-1. This can be a disadvantage by not having competed, but fresh legs should not be a problem. FC Cincinnati will have only three days rest so fatigue could play a factor. Yet one thing FCC can rely on is its incredible depth. Expect to see movement in the starting XI this match, not only to provide rest, but possibly looking ahead to the final match of this eight day, three game stretch. In addition, Ledesma will be suspended for Wednesday’s match after receiving his eighth caution of the season in last Saturday’s win.

Points from all competitions are coveted, but the FCC coaching staff needs to be cautious not to look past Wednesday’s match in preparation for Saturday’s tilt in Tampa Bay. Ever wonder why Alan Koch and the technical staff of FCC have so many quality players to choose from? Don’t think for a second that the number of games being played and the resources available aren’t critical at this stage of the season. Check out the fast facts below to see the stats for yourself.

Fast Facts

Here are five fast facts to get you ready for Wednesday’s 7:00 p.m. kick at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, GA:

  • This week represents the fourth time this season that FCC will have 3 matches in a eight -day span. Of the nine games making up the first three occasions, FCC has a remarkable 8-0-1 record! Squad depth your Honor? I rest my case.
  • FCC doesn’t mind the weekday grind matches either. This season they’ve racked up 7 points from 3 midweek games (2-0-1). As a franchise, they have a 7-4-5 record all time when playing non-weekend matches.
  • One area where Atlanta has out-performed FCC is in friendly play, or more precisely the lower accumulation of yellow cards. The home-side has been shown a yellow 31 times this season (second lowest in the league) as compared to 47 yellows the Orange & Blue have received. FCC has yet to receive a red, whereas Atlanta United 2 have been shown the door twice.
  • No match should be taken lightly, of course. Atlanta United do have the ability to win at home. Actually, they seem to only earn points at home as 13 of their total 16 points come from the safe confines of their own backyard. As highlighted above, they’ve only loss once at home in eight games.
  • Should FCC find at least a point Wednesday, their unbeaten streak moves to 14 matches and will tie the fourth longest streak in USL history. FCC will share that honor with New York Red Bulls II, who achieved that total in 2016 on their way to the USL Cup title. It will take another three unbeaten to reach the third best of 17, currently held by Louisville City FC.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati at Atlanta United 2 this Wednesday.

FC Cincinnati 4 – 2 Atlanta United 2: Deeper Cuts

Detailed stats and deeper analysis of FC Cincinnati’s 4-2 victory over Atlanta United 2 on Saturday May 5th.

Image: JES Photography

FC Cincinnati was on target at Nippert Stadium and thrilled over 22 thousand supporters with four goals and a victory against Atlanta United 2 on Saturday. The win capped-off a tremendous week on the field for Alan Koch’s men, who collected maximum points and launched themselves to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

FCC accumulated three wins, including two road-wins, ten goals, and nine points in just eight days. That’s arguably the best week in FC Cincinnati’s short history as a franchise, depending on how you measure success. As an added benefit, Louisville City FC dropped their first match of the season, which allowed the Orange & Blue to leapfrog them and go into first place in the Eastern Conference. This marks the first time in FC Cincinnati’s history that they have claimed first place in the Eastern Conference.

The league table trend for FC Cincinnati below shows the last 20 game days via Fussball Datenbank. Note that this graph and its rankings treat the USL as if it had a single league table.Screenshot 2018-05-06 12.06.28

Depth on Display

Alan Koch leveraged his depth this week and it paid big dividends. He featured 18 different FCC players over the last three league matches. However, the Saturday matches (Ottawa and Atlanta) featured almost the same eleven starters lined up in a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield. The one difference between those matches is that Jimmy McLaughlin started as the CAM against Atlanta United 2 in place of the injured Nazmi Albadawi. The big rotation, of course, came on Wednesday and included six changed starters. It also included a tactical shift to a less aggressive 4-2-3-1 formation.

FC Cincinnati now has five wins out of eight matches all-time on weekends following a mid-week game. They flexed their muscles in the depth department this week, and the coaching staff will likely use the strategies employed as a recipe for success for the rest of the season. The matches come thick and fast starting in mid-May as the US Open Cup enters the equation.

McLaughlin was the most efficient passer for FCC against Atlanta, with an 89% passing accuracy, including an 87% passing accuracy in the opponent’s half.

Offensive Efficiency

FCC got results in the first few matches of this season on the back of a solid defense and an in-form Evan Newton. The offense struggled to find fluency at that early stage. The results featured low shots totals, low shooting accuracy, and a conversion rate near the bottom of the league.

Times have changed. The offense is clicking, the goals are coming, and Saturday’s win was built on the back of clinical finishing. The Orange & Blue didn’t produce their highest goal total of the season by peppering the Atlanta goal with a large number of shots. Atlanta actually had 1 more shot on the night than FC Cincinnati did. They produced the victory by capitalizing on the opportunities they were presented.

Emmanuel Ledesma had five shots, two were on target, and he scored two goals. Manu also had the assist for the first goal to round out a man-of-the-match worthy performance. Danni König had four shots, three on target and scored one goal. Kenney Walker couldn’t continue his scoring streak, but Corben Bone picked up where he left off and now has three goals in the past three matches. Corben Bone’s goal on Saturday came from his only shot of the evening.

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FC Cincinnati’s shots and goals vs Atlanta, via Opta on the USL site.

The graphic above demonstrates FCC’s offensive efficiency. They produced 13 shots on Saturday, six were on target (46% shooting accuracy) and 4 were goals (44% conversion rate*). Compare this to a 25% shooting accuracy and 8% conversion rate over FCC’s first four matches of the season. After producing only 3 goals in their first four matches, FC Cincinnati is now tied for the most goals in the USL with 15. Additionally, they now boast a conversion rate of 19% which is tied for second-best in the league.

*This definition of conversion rate excludes blocked shots for consistency with USL site.

Much Ado about Guido

There was a lot of pre-match angst about the return of referee Guido Gonzales Jr. to Nippert for this match. He was much maligned after his role in a loss that FC Cincinnati suffered at the hands of the Rochester Rhinos last season. It was a quiet night for Guido on Saturday and everyone was thankful. The match ran smoothly, despite a few heated moments between the players, and only three cards were issued. You have to give credit where it’s due, and this one went well for refereeing crew.


Take Advantage of the Rest

A much quieter week is approaching for the Orange & Blue and they will need the rest. Their next match is on the road on Saturday, May 12th against the Charlotte Independence. That will be the first of another three matches in eight days. Alan Koch’s side then returns to US Open Cup action the following week. They have a match at Gettler on 5/16 followed by a league encounter with North Carolina FC on 5/19. The schedule is about to heat up and it looks like Alan Koch’s side is finding form at the right time.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 season.


Images: FC Cincinnati 4 – 2 Atlanta United 2

Images of FC Cincinnati’s 4-2 victory over Atlanta United 2, on Saturday May 5th, courtesy of Joe Schmuck.


Here are images of FC Cincinnati’s 4-2 victory over Atlanta United 2 at Nippert Stadium on Saturday, May 5th, courtesy of Joe Schmuck. When browsing the gallery below, for any given image, a high-resolution version can be found by scrolling down and clicking “View Full Size.”

For more particulars of Saturday’s contest, turn your attention to the following article.
Atlanta 5.5.2_Match Recap
FC Cincinnati 4 – 2 Atlanta United 2: Offensive Explosion Vaults FCC into First

All images are copyright protected to safeguard the creative rights of our photographers. We’re very open to sharing our work with those who want to show support for FC Cincinnati. We simply request that you ask (via DM on Twitter or email) and give credit where it’s due. Thanks!

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 season.

Match Program: FC Cincinnati vs Atlanta United 2

Design: CSDIV / König Image: Joe Craven / Flag Image: JES Photography

FC Cincinnati returns home for just their third time this season to face Atlanta United 2 for the first time. The Orange & Blue conclude a successful road weary week following an emphatic 3-0 win at Ottawa and a convincing 3-2 away win to Indy Eleven. FCC enters Saturday’s contest sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference on 14 points.

As the official USL affiliate (MLS 2) of the Atlanta United, the reserve side has a large roster that mixes first team, USL, and academy contracts. Coach Scott Donnelly typically taps deep into his roster. He has started 21 players over six matches, with 23 of the squad seeing game action. English defender and former Liverpool youth player, Jack Metcalf, leads and captains the team and has played every minute this season. Defender Miles Robinson is suspended for the match after earning two yellow cards versus Pittsburgh last weekend.

Atlanta started their inaugural USL season in strong fashion by beating fellow reserve side, New York Red Bulls II, by a 3-1 score. Following three straight draws, Atlanta United 2 most recently lost back-to-back matches. They come into Saturday’s tilt in 12th place with six points and a 1-2-3 record.

The Orange & Blue road warriors will attempt to notch their first win at home this 2018 season. This is the latest in any season they have gone without a win at Nippert. Adding additional flavor, the Professional Referee Organization (PRO) has assigned Guido Gonzales Jr. as the match referee. If the name, and chant, “Guido” sound familiar, harken back to that steamy summer evening match versus the Rochester Rhinos last July. Guido became the main story of the match rendering eight yellow cards, two red cards, and three penalty kicks in the controversial 2-3 loss to the Rhinos.

Fast Facts

Here are five fast facts you can tell your Orange and Blue friends between “Guido” chants Saturday evening.

  • In their history, FCC has played seven weekend USL matches following mid-week regular season contests. They have earned 4 wins, 1 loss and 2 ties in these shortened weeks. Five of these games have been played at Nippert where the home side has gone 4-0-1.
  • The Orange & Blue are 12-6-3 all-time against MLS 2 sides.
  • Returning FCC players Walker, Bone, McLaughlin, and Konig have accounted for seven of the team’s eleven goals this season.
  • Atlanta United 2 enters the match tied for third best in the USL with an 81% passing accuracy. However, this has not necessarily resulted in scoring chances as they rank 28th out of 33 teams in shots taken and have been held scoreless in their last two games.
  • Forward Jon Gallagher leads the USL side with three goals in four matches, converting 75% of his shots taken. The recent Notre Dame graduate was selected 14th overall by Atlanta United in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati at home versus Atlanta United 2.