First Day of Training – “Pliable” Approach to Preseason

Alan Koch, Kenney Walker, and Corben Bone share their thoughts on FC Cincinnati’s 2018 preseason, including topics ranging from Koch’s pliable approach, LCFC as a target, and how to train with a baby at home.

The Orange and Blue are back in action, finally back on a pitch kicking soccer balls. We had the opportunity to drop in on the first training session of 2018 and talk to Alan Koch and FC Cincinnati’s veteran midfielders, Kenney Walker and Corben Bone. Here’s what they had to say about the 2018 camp and the USL season ahead.

Alan Koch

Coach Koch gave us his thoughts on the juicy slate of preseason games that was announced on Wednesday. He stressed the need for the team and coaches to be “pliable” in preseason (they could even add a game).

“The number of games is there by design—the team’s we’ve chosen and the level that they play at is by design, too. We’re going to go through a progressive three-phase process to get ready for the start of the season, and you’ll see we’ll increase the players minutes as we go throughout the progression of those games. When we get back from that (Florida), we’ll assess the group and start to increase the minutes as we go through preseason. … You have to be very pliable through preseason because you don’t quite know exactly how it’s going to go. If we have to add a game or whatever we might need to do, we’ll do that.”

Listen to the full interview below where Coach Koch also discusses Andrew Wiedeman’s retirement, the smaller 2018 squad size, and how he intends to integrate new talent into a cohesive group.

Kenney Walker

Kenney Walker was the 2017 Team MVP, and he shared his thoughts with us on Austin Berry bossing him around (my words), and whether Louisville City’s USL Cup win changes anything for FCC heading into preseason.

On Austin Berry as a coach:

“I’m not used to it yet, but we’re still good friends so it’s not going to be anything different. It’s just his role (that) has changed, so it’s going to be that little bit of a boundary on the field now that we didn’t have before, but it will be fun going along in the season.”

On whether Louisville’s USL Cup win changes the approach to the 2018 season:

“No, not really. Louisville’s been a good team ever since they came into the USL. I think for us it’s just about getting together and meshing all the new guys together and starting, pretty much, not over again, but having a base of players coming back and all the new guys coming in, and seeing how much better we can do, this year from last year.”

Listen to the full interview with Kenney where he talks about his 2017 Team MVP award and what it’s like adjusting to the player turnover in the past two seasons.

Corben Bone

Corben shared a few minutes with us and shared this after the training session concluded.

“It was great to just be back, out touching the ball with all the guys and stuff. The off-seasons are always interesting times, but … it seems like it flew by, and we’re here now with another season in front of us, and I’m really excited.”

As a new father, Corben had to adjust to changes off the field, but he shared what he worked on in the off-season.

“My off-season was a bit different than previous ones, because I just had a baby, so I was a bit limited on where I could go, and my wife went out of town a little bit, so I did some stuff in the gym working on core strength and flexibility, because I think that can help with longevity and fitness.”

Listen to the full interview where Corben gives his thoughts on players departing, personal goals for 2018, and the team’s new midfield setup.

Photos

All photos are courtesy of JES Photography.

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

Cheat Sheet: FC Cincinnati vs Saint Louis FC

An information graphic provides the vital details for Saturday’s match between FC Cincinnati and Saint Louis FC. Plus, four fast facts.

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Image for header and info graphic courtesy of Ryan Meyer Photography

FC Cincinnati continues a five game June home stand on Saturday with a matchup against Saint Louis FC. The Orange and Blue will benefit from a full week’s rest after their 2-2 draw on June 17th against the Charleston Battery.

Alan Koch’s side earned their marquee victory so far in the 2017 USL season against Saint Louis FC. They defeated the Missouri side 4-0 at Nippert Stadium on April 15th. Djiby Fall had a perfect hat trick plus one in that contest.

Saint Louis FC has fallen from grace after their tax day defeat at the hands of FC Cincinnati. They were in first place in the Eastern Conference before that match. Since, they have won just a single game and have gone 1-3-2 in league play. They sit in 12th in the Eastern Conference, two points behind FC Cincinnati but having played three fewer matches.

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Here are four fast facts to serve as a backdrop for Saturday’s contest.

  • Since the two sides last met on April 15th, FC Cincinnati has had a much heavier match schedule than Saint Louis FC. The Orange and Blue have played 13 matches in that time period, compared to their opponent’s nine.
  • Center back Harrison Delbridge leads FC Cincinnati’s defense in clearances (55), blocks (9), interceptions (42), and duels won (92).
  • Only one of Saint Louis FC’s 13 goals this season has been scored from a header (8%). 53% of FC Cincinnati’s goals, 8 of 15, have come from headed shots.
  • Saint Louis FC exited the US Open Cup in the fourth round by a 1-0 scoreline at the hands of the Chicago Fire. FC Cincinnati will face that same MLS side in the fifth round of that tournament at Nippert next Wednesday, June 28th.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of Saturday’s match.

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FC Cincinnati Signs Mélé Temguia: 4 Questions with Tristan D’Amours

Orange and Blue Press caught up with Montréal based journalist Tristan D’Amours for more insight into FC Cincinnati’s most recent signing, Mélé Temguia.

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Photo courtesy of Montréal Impact

FC Cincinnati announced the signing of Canadian defender Mélé Temguia on Tuesday. The 21 year old center back most recently played as a trialist for FC Cincinnati in a preseason match against the Ottawa Fury on February 25th. Temguia spent the 2015 and 2016 USL seasons with FC Montréal after coming through the Montréal Impact academy system.

FC Cincinnati Official Press Release

Four Questions with Tristan D’Amours

Tristan D’Amours is a Montréal based journalist that covered FC Montréal for the past two seasons.* He answered a few questions from Orange and Blue press about FC Cincinnati’s most recent signing.

What kind of player is Mélé Temguia? What are his strengths and weaknesses as a defender?

“Temguia is a tall centreback that impressed with FC Montreal from the get-go. At his young age, he already had a great defensive vision and was one of the only players to cope with the physicality of the USL in FC Montreal’s first season. The lack of defenders back in FC Montréal’s first season gave him the opportunity to impose himself very quickly as a regular starter despite being one of the youngest on an already very young team. Back in 2015, he was regarded as a “raw diamond” kind of player. He was highly regarded within the Impact.”

Mélé got a decent number of starts for FC Montreal and some USL recognition in 2015, but only 4 starts for 128 minutes in 2016, what were the reasons for his lesser role?

“Mélé was the number one centreback in 2015 but a leg injury ruled him out for most of the 2016 season. I remember his first start back after months on the injury list, he started the game despite it being his first minutes back from his injury because the team was short on defenders. He only played the first 45 minutes but everyone was very surprised by what he had done. Then assistant coach Simon Gatti told me after the game that he was surprised at what he brought to that game after months of sitting out. Playing consistent soccer at a level he already played at will be very good for him in 2017.”

Is there anything else about Mélé that people should know?

“I remember speaking to him after his first start after he returned from injury. We spoke to him about his 45 minutes and was so happy to be able to play again. He wanted to make a mark on the rest of the season. The downside of this was that there were only a handful of games remaining. His injury made him fall down the pecking order for the Impact, and the arrival of Thomas Meilleur-Guiguère in 2016 bumped him down as best prospect at centreback. Both were invited to training camp for the Impact but only Meilleur-Guiguère managed to get a spot, and was later sent to Ottawa.” 

Temguia was in Tampa with the Impact for a preseason tournament hosted by the Tampa Bay Rowdies. He joined FC Cincinnati in nearby Bradenton to play the match against Ottawa as a trialist.

What has the reaction been to the dissolution of FC Montréal locally? Do people/media generally think it was the right move for the club?

“Fans barely made their way to FC Montreal games. In 2015, the games were free of charge and no one came. In 2016, the games moved to the Impact’s former home and ticket prices rose to $10—and $5 for season ticket holders with the money going in part to the Impact’s foundation—and still barely no one came. One of the reasons for cutting the team was costs and the fact that the team wants to concentrate on a select few prospects and not field a team of 23. When the Impact announced they were shutting down FC Montreal and affiliating with Ottawa, the only ones who reacted to the news were the few that went to the games and a small portion of the media.”

Orange and Blue Press Reaction

This was an absolutely mandatory signing for Koch before embarking on the 2017 campaign. Mélé Temguia brings depth, size, and potential to FC Cincinnati’s central defense.

Mélé will provide needed depth for a defense that is very thin at center back, especially with Austin Berry injured. At 6’2”, he has good size, which will benefit FC Cincinnati against physical strikers like Romario Williams and Heviel Cordoves, who we’ll see this Saturday. He also brings youth and potential to the central defense. At age 21, he’s still a developing player and can grow his game under Koch with Delbridge (25), Berry (28), and Nicholson (30) to aide the process.

He acquitted himself well in the match he played against Ottawa in February. He made a few timely interventions, and looked comfortable with the ball in a match that ended 1-1. Paul Nicholson is still most likely to start this weekend given how fresh this signing is, but Temguia is a natural center back and could push for minutes early.

FC Cincinnati kicks off its 2017 USL season against the Charleston Battery in South Carolina this Saturday. Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for coverage of FC Cincinnati’s upcoming season.

*Tristan D’Amours is a coordinating editor at The Link and an MLS staff writer for SBI Soccer.

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Photo courtesy of Montréal Impact

 

Preseason Battles To Watch: Defense

FC Cincinnati retained last year’s defensive starters and added Cincinnati native Matt Bahner in the offseason. Who will earn a starting spot in 2017?

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FC Cincinnati’s preseason comes to a close after they take on the Xavier University Mens Soccer team at the XU Soccer Complex on Friday. The 2017 preseason has provided the coaching staff and fans with a good look at a lot of players. The team has produced one win, two draws, and two losses over three weeks of play. The Orange and Blue have scored nine goals and conceded nine during their five game preseason stretch so far. It’s important to note however, that preseason results and associated statistics, should be taken with a grain of salt.

This article is the final installment of a series from Orange and Blue Press on preseason battles. The focus of this article is on another well defined area of the field for FC Cincinnati, defense.

FC Cincinnati had a very stable back line in 2016 anchored by Austin Berry and Harrison Delbridge. Delbridge starred and earned All USL First Team Honors for his performance. Tyler Polak and and Pat McMahon were regulars at left and right fullback respectively.

Cut to the Chase

Berry, Delbridge, and Polak all appear to be locks for the starting eleven in 2017, assuming they are healthy. The only battle truly in progress is for the right back position, where Pat McMahon is fighting to retain his starting position after the arrival of Matt Bahner from the Jacksonville Armada.

Pat McMahon has been a fine servant to the club over the past year. He started 21 of the first 24 matches FC Cincinnati played last season. He was a consistent performer, with a high work rate, and fit well into a system where Harkes asked the fullbacks to go up and down the length of the field with regularity. He also scored a stoppage time goal in the first Dirty River Derby that proved pivotal in FC Cincinnati winning the River Cities Cup. McMahon eventually lost his grip on the starting position and began to share starts with Derek Luke in August of 2016.

Prediction and Depth

Bahner will get the nod at right back to start the season. Berry, Delbridge, and Polak will make up the rest of the back four. The battle for right back is a tight however. Bahner, a Cincinnati native, has stared three preseason matches. McMahon has started two. Bahner played the majority of the match against Sacramento, which was the best dress rehearsal for a real USL game that the preseason offered. He also came from a NASL side, which (arguably) was a higher level of US Soccer in 2016. Signs point to Bahner being the starter, but this is one to watch on Friday night and beyond. With Bahner as the starter, McMahon will provide backup at right back. Derek Luke will be the reserve left back.

Depth is the real question mark in defense for FC Cincinnati. Austin Berry is injured and will miss two to three weeks with an elbow sprain. Paul Nicholson is the obvious replacement for Berry while injured. In 2016, Nicholson deputized for Berry from the end of April until mid-July after Berry suffered a quad injury during training. Nicholson is capable, but any additional defensive injuries could cause a real problem. Because of this lack of depth, FC Cincinnati showcased a few trialists in their preseason games. Expect Koch to sign one of these trialists soon to provide needed cover in central defense.

FC Cincinnati’s USL season kicks of on March 25th in a familiar setting. For the second year running, their first game is a road trip to the Charleston Battery. It’s the first of three consecutive road matches to start their regular season campaign. The home opener is on April 15th and will feature football starved fans and a newly expanded pitch at Nippert Stadium.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2017 Season.

 

 

FC Cincinnati Falls in First Preseason Friendly

FC Cincinnati played its first preseason match of 2017 on Sunday. They lost to OKC Energy at the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic in Bradenton, Florida.

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Photo Courtesy of USL

FC Cincinnati lost its first preseason game of 2017 by a score of 3-2 to OKC Energy on Sunday afternoon. The game was the first of a three game series the team will play in the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic in Bradenton, Florida.

The match was played just two days after John Harkes was dismissed as head coach of the second year club. Assistant coach Alan Koch has taken the reigns and will lead the team for this year’s preseason and USL campaign.

After going down a goal in the first half, FC Cincinnati got back into the match in the 60th minute. Two new signings combined for the team’s first 2017 goal. Djiby Fall eluded a defender and served a high ball to Daryl Fordyce in the box. The former FC Edmonton striker stuck a leg out and brought the ball down under excellent control for a quick shot. The ball found the back of the net to level the game at 1-1.

Despite controlling possession for periods of the second half, FC Cincinnati conceded two late goals in the 72nd and 81st minutes. Both goals were finished by Danish striker Wojciech Wojcik after OKC exposed the left side of FC Cincinnati’s defense. The first of OKC’s second half goals appeared to be clearly offside.

Austin Berry delivered a headed consolation goal in the 89th minute after a late period sustained pressure from the Orange and Blue.

The second half of the game featured nine FC Cincinnati substitutions, providing new head coach Alan Koch a good look at most of the players on the roster.

Also of note, Kenney Walker left the game in the 24th minute, likely due to injury. Kenney was replaced by Aaron Walker, and just like that we’ve seen our first Walker for Walker substitution of the season. Good thing we had two.

For a full description of the game’s events, see the FC Cincinnati match recap.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more analysis and color commentary on FC Cincinnati’s preseason.

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Photo Courtesy of USL

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 – The 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 1 Rochester Rhinos 1 – Recap Roundup

Recaps summarizing FC Cincinnati’s 1-1 draw with the Rochester Rhinos on Wednesday August 24th.

FC Cincinnati played to a 1-1 stalemate with the Rochester Rhinos at Nippert Stadium on Wednesday evening. Team captain and Cincinnati native Austin Berry got the Orange and Blue on the board in the 28th minute with a headed goal, his 3rd of the season. Rochester equalized 14 minutes later when Cape Verdean midfielder Steevan Dos Santos scored with a near post drive from 12 yards. The Rhinos goal came just moments after a lengthy delay resulting from what appeared to be a serious knee injury to FC Cincinnati forward Omar Cummings. FC Cincinnati were playing a man short due to this injury when Rochester equalized. Cummings was substituted but left the field under his own power. This result represents the 3rd 1-1 draw for FC Cincinnati in their past 4 games.

For play-by-play details of the game’s events, see the following worthy sources:

FC Cincinnati Official
Cincinnati Soccer Talk
Enquirer
USL

The Orange and Blue now turn their attention to a challenging two game road trip that spans the next 7 days. On Sunday August 28th they will face Eastern Conference leaders NY Red Bulls II at Red Bull Arena. That game will be followed by a Wednesday contest against the Charlotte Independence. The latter is a replay of a game that was cancelled earlier in the season due to severe weather and poor field conditions.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more photographs, analysis and color commentary on Wednesday’s result.

Rochester vs FC Cincinnati – Match Notes

Key events, interesting stats, and standout players from FC Cincinnati’s 2-1 loss to Rochester on Wednesday.

FC Cincinnati lost 2-1 to the Rochester Rhinos on Wednesday evening, breaking the Orange and Blue’s 11 game USL unbeaten streak.

Match Notes

Issues with Rochester’s internet feed  / video coverage limited early viewing of this match. The first 35 minutes appear to be lost forever to a Youtube black hole. Let’s look forward to the day when all of this club’s matches are covered on broadcast television, and the FCC faithful have to stream no more.

Despite the loss and conceding 2 goals, the Orange and Blue had periods of good passing and possession and created enough chances to get a result. Rochester’s defense and keeper played well, especially in the closing minutes, and deserve credit. There’s no shame in losing at Rhinos Stadium and it doesn’t seem there’s a need to dissect in great detail why FCC lost.

The key piece of positive news from this match was, of course, the return of team captain Austin Berry from injury. Berry played 28 minutes plus stoppage, entering the match just prior to the pivotal penalty kick being awarded to Rochester.

Interesting Stats

This result represents the first time in a competitive match that the opposition scored 2 goals against FC Cincinnati. Louisville City netted 3 goals in their April 16th victory over the Orange and Blue but FCC’s defense has held all other sides to 0 or 1 goals against.

Sean Okoli is the only FC Cincinnati player that had a shot on target in the match. He tallied 6 total shots with 4 on goal. Credit is due however to Andrew Wiedeman for drawing the penalty and also to Bone for the dime of a cross that created the opportunity.

Rochester only had 2 total shots in the second half. Unfortunately one of them was a penalty kick that was well taken and won the game.

Standouts

Sean Okoli – Ugo’s penalty kick conversion brings him to 8 goals on the season which is good enough to be tied for 5th in USL scoring. LA Galaxy 2 striker Jack McBean still leads the USL with 13 goals on the season.

Austin Berry – He didn’t have a large impact on this match in particular, but his return from injury is certainly an important event.

FC Cincinnati now head to Missouri for a Saturday clash with Saint Louis FC, who is undefeated at home this season. Harkes’ men will be keen to pick up points in this match before heading home for the Crystal Palace friendly, followed by 3 key match-ups against the Easter Conferences best opposition.