FC Cincinnati 3 – 0 Indy Eleven: USL Attendance Record, Fan Appreciation Night, and Silverware Celebration

FC Cincinnati closed out their USL regular season with a new attendance record and a 21-game unbeaten streak.

Graphic: Connor Paquette / Image: Ryan Meyer

What a night at Nippert! On Fan Appreciation Night and for the regular season home finale, FC Cincinnati surpassed their previous USL regular-season attendance record in front of 31,478 exuberant fans. The Orange & Blue extended their league record winning-streak to 10 in a row and are now 21 games unbeaten, one game from tying the USL record set by Richmond during the 2013 season. FCC has now gone 126 days without a loss.

The FCC fans came ready to party in anticipation of the USL regular-season championship hardware celebration, and the squad didn’t disappoint them, earning an emphatic regular season clean-sweep over their I-74 rivals, Indy Eleven.

Both teams started the match in a probing and lively fashion. Following several excellent saves by Evan Newton in the first twenty-five minutes, FCC found their offensive groove. The breakthrough occurred in the 34th minute. Following some wonderful combination play by Michael Lahoud, Jimmy McLaughlin, and Pa Konate, Jimmy played a square ball to a wide-open Fanendo Adi.  Adi turned, took a dribble, and struck a bullet from the top of the box. The shot deflected off of a defender, then off Owain Fôn Williams’ outstretched hands and into the back of the net. FC Cincinnati took the one-nil advantage into the half.

The Orange & Blue controlled the second half and wore the Eleven starters down. In the 65th minute, a timely Tyler Gibson block quickly turned into a counter attack for FCC. Jimmy played a beautiful long ball over the top of the Indy back line. Danni König out-legged the Indy defense and out-smarted Fôn Williams for his 11th goal of the season, and a second assist of the night for McLaughlin.

FC Cincinnati padded their cushion and put the match away in the 74th minute. Russell Cicerone blasted a shot that grazed off of Indy defender Carlyle Mitchell’s boot and past Fôn Williams. Evan Newton and the back-line were able to record the team’s 13th clean sheet of the season.

Final Score: FC Cincinnati 3 – 0 Indy Eleven

Standings Update:

Another match, another three points. Although the Orange & Blue have already secured the regular-season championship and will host each playoff match, there is still reason to keep an eye on the Eastern Conference standings. Pay attention to the teams that are currently positioned in the 6th to 10th spots. FC Cincinnati will host the 8th place team in the first round of the playoffs October 20th.

Highlight of the Match

There were many highlights to choose from this evening between 3 quality goals and 5 deserving saves by Newton. But the highlight of the match came after the match when the team and coaching staff were able to lift the USL 2018 Regular-Season Champions Silverware.

Image: Ryan Meyer

Quote of the Match

Alan Koch had the following to say at the conclusion of tonight’s match.

Fun game tonight. I don’t think it would be as enjoyable celebrating a regular-season championship if we didn’t go out and get a positive result against a very good team tonight. . . I said to the guys, ‘Go out and enjoy it tonight.’ We obviously enjoyed it Wednesday. We get to enjoy it together tonight with everybody’ . . .We’re going to give [the players] a few days off and then we come back and have the last two games and every day of training to prepare ourselves for the postseason.

Stat of the Match

56% – FC Cincinnati placed 5 of 9 shots on target, three of which found the back of the net. FCC’s 56% shooting accuracy out-classed Indy Eleven’s 25% accuracy (5 of 20 shots on target) and improved their own season shooting accuracy to 49.7%.

Who Started?

Alan Koch made 10 changes from the side that clinched the USL Regular-Season Championship at Richmond earlier this week. Only goalkeeper Evan Newton remained in the starting XI from Wednesday. Every field position rotated this evening without missing a beat in Koch’s 4-4-2 formation.

Adi (88′ Ameobi) – König
McLaughlin – Lahoud – Gibson – Cicerone
Konate (53′ Smith) – de Wit – Keinan (C) – Bahner
Newton

What’s Next?

FC Cincinnati closes out their 2018 regular season on the the road visiting Pittsburgh on October 6th and Nashville October 13th. The next match at Nippert will be an Orange & Blue first-round playoff match on Saturday, October 20th at 4 pm.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 season and the run to the 2018 USL Cup.

Graphic: Connor Paquette / Image: Ryan Meyer

Match Program: FC Cincinnati vs Charleston Battery

FC Cincinnati wraps up a six-game home stand Saturday as they host the Charleston Battery in the battle of recent unbeaten streaks.

Design CSDIV / Images (Barrett, Ledesma): Ryan Meyer / Image(Nippert:) Joe Craven

FC Cincinnati concludes a six-game home stretch on Saturday when they host the Charleston Battery at Nippert Stadium. FCC is 1-3-2 all time versus the Battery and have never beaten them at home.

Saturday’s showdown is arguably one of the marquee matches of the entire 2018 Eastern Conference schedule. Conference leaders FC Cincinnati enter the game on a 12-match unbeaten run, tops in franchise history. The Battery, sitting five points behind in third, bring their own 11-game unbeaten streak into the contest. Between the two sides, neither team has lost in over two months. Moreover, Charleston plays tough on the road, having drawn seven of their twelve away matches (3-2-7).

Adding fuel to the fire, Charleston is still stinging from the season opening 0-1 loss to FCC in March. There’s no controversy in saying the Battery out-played FC Cincinnati that day. Thanks to Evan Newton’s remarkable game in goal, he kept the home side off the score sheet. Blake Smith’s goal that evening allowed FCC to beat the Battery for the first time ever.

Likewise, FCC have their own axe to grind. It was CB93 that dealt the Orange & Blue the disappointing home playoff loss that cut their inaugural 2016 season short. Even though the club has turned the roster over quite a bit since then, the significance of Saturday’s match is firmly on both team’s minds. This match has been circled on Charleston’s calendar since March.

Although unbeaten in twelve, the Orange & Blue enter Saturday’s tilt in far from their best form. The new player signees and arrivals have added intrigue and promise for the USL Cup run and MLS future. However, the play on the field has not reciprocated of late. FCC will have their hands full with the front three for the Battery, led by Trinidad & Tobago international Ataulla Guerra. Guerra comes into the match with 12 goals, sitting two behind the current league Golden Boot leader. Expect a heavy dose of high pressure applied to the FCC back line.

Not to be outdone by their attack, the Battery’s strength this season has been their defense. They enter Saturday’s match with five straight clean sheets and have conceded only 19 goals all year (third best in the league). Their defense is led by captain Taylor Mueller and Neveal Hackshaw, each logging over 2,000 minutes played this season.

Alan Koch may elect to change the formation once again and return to a 4-2-3-1 line-up utilizing the team’s depth at central defensive midfield. This should provide cover for the defensive unit and help control possession through the midfield. Koch has stated that everyone minus Richie Ryan (leg injury) should be available for selection. Could this be the match we witness Fanendo Adi’s first start in an Orange & Blue kit?

Fast Facts

Here are five fast facts to get you ready for Saturday’s 7:30pm kickoff.

  • With his game-winning goal Sunday, Emmanuel Ledesma is the first USL player to reach 10 goals and 10 assists this season. Ledesma is only the second USL player ever to record a double-double in a single season. Manu has his eye on breaking the single season USL assist record of 12.
  • Defensive stalwarts – both teams enter the match with double digit clean sheets. The Battery have recorded 12 in total (second best in the USL), FCC enters the match with 10 (tied for fifth best). Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky has conceded only 10 goals with an 81.1% save rate (best in the USL). For the Orange & Blue, Evan Newton has allowed 14 goals with a 76.3% save percentage (fourth best). Both keepers have 17 starts this season.
  • Charleston has two players in the USL top 12 for total passes, Tah Anunga (1,202) and Neveal Hackshaw (1,194). Corben Bone is the only FCC player who has registered over 1,000 passes this season (1,045). All three players currently eclipse the 50 passes per 90 minutes plateau.
  • Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser will be going for his 200th career USL win. “Augie” has been with the club as a player, assistant coach, and head coach for 25 years. Let’s plan on holding off on this career achievement one more week.
  • Danni König’s ten goals this season ties him for the team lead and ninth overall in the league. Of note, Danni leads all double-digit scorers with a 40% conversion rate (goals divided by total shots excluding blocks). In addition, he’s third best among this group in frequency of goals, scoring one in every 128 minutes played.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati versus Charleston Battery.

* Big thanks to Drew Bartow for the match intel. Drew is a board member for the Battery Supporter’s Group The Regiment and a writer at SoccerNSweetTea.

FC Cincinnati 1 – 1 Nashville SC: Bonus Track

The Bonus Track segment takes a deeper look at #CINvNSH, Nashville SC’s offensive dominance, and positives FC Cincinnati can take away from the performance.

Image: Ryan Meyer

The Bonus Track segment is an abridged version of Orange & Blue Press’ Deeper Cuts series. It takes one or two components of a recent match and breaks it down in more detail.

FC Cincinnati faced its fellow MLS expansion awardee Nashville SC for the second time this USL season. The contest was on home turf after a week filled with dramatic headline-grabbing player signings. However, the result would be the status quo as the Orange & Blue managed to draw once again with their future MLS rivals. Similar to the game played at Nissan Stadium, Nashville SC got the better of the FC Cincinnati in terms of possession and chances created. Earning one point was anything but easy, and possibly quite fortunate.

The Bad and the Ugly

This match certainly did not live up to FC Cincinnati’s recent form as the stats will show. However, throwing another point on the top of the total doesn’t have to be pretty.

Nashville SC had a slight edge in overall possession with 52.4%. However, that possession was achieved by a more telling stat of 17 intercepted FC Cincinnati passes as the squad struggled to find their rhythm. NSC also had the advantage of attacking threats with a remarkable 41 crosses compared to FCC’s 17. Those crosses for NSC had a phenomenal accuracy rate of 36.6%, and surprisingly, failed to produce goals. Here’s a chalkboard view of NSC vs FCC in crossing attempts.

Left – Nashville SC Crosses (41) / Right – FC Cincinnati Crosses (17)

Nashville SC out-shot FC Cincinnati 19 to 4 but only managed 5 on target, thankfully. Much of the match the visitors had space to push numbers forward. NSC’s starting midfield tallied 164 total passes vs 133 by FCC. More telling was the accuracy in dangerous areas where NSC had the advantage again with 82.8% passing accuracy in the attacking half vs 69.6% by FCC. With those passes came opportunities, 10 of Nashville SC’s shots were inside the box. Adding insult to injury, Tucker Hume scoring in the 85th minute pretty much summed up the night. To be fair, it wasn’t a matter of if Nashville SC was going to score, but when and how many.

The Good

With all of that attacking, the defense has to come up big and the center backs certainly did.  Dekel Keinan and Forrest Lasso kept the aerial and ground onslaught at bay, combining for a total of 15 clearances with 16 aerial duels won.

FCC did have an attack, albeit fleeting. Danni König made no mistake in reminding FCC fans who can score, even though all the pre-match attention was on Fenendo Adi. He did this 28 seconds in, earning his 10th of the season and setting the club record for fastest goal scored from kickoff.

Certainly a moment to remember will be that 73rd minute announcement of Fanendo Adi entering the game. His physical presence and obvious abilities certainly were noticeable, but his vocal direction stood out. The team responded and developed a bit more possession, ultimately leading to a decent scoring chance for Adi.

All-in-all, a somewhat disappointing performance but still a point earned, still atop the Eastern Conference, and undefeated in 11 matches. Plus, we got a look into FC Cincinnati’s future and it is very bright indeed.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for coverage of our next match against Penn FC this Sunday.

FC Cincinnati 1 – 1 Nashville SC: Adi Era Begins in the Queen City

FC Cincinnati played to a frustrating 1-1 draw with Nashville SC at Nippert Stadium. Marquee signing stole the show with his 73rd minute debut for the club.

Nashville 8.4_Match Recap.png
Design: Connor Paquette / Image: Ryan Meyer

Marquee signing Fanendo Adi debuted for the Orange & Blue on Saturday, but FC Cincinnati could only manage a frustrating 1-1 draw against future MLS rival Nashville SC. A crowd of 27,426 piled in for a weather-delayed match at Nippert Stadium, and they had a goal to celebrate less than a minute after the first whistle.

From the middle of the park, Nazmi Albadawi released Danni König down the right with an angled through ball. The Danish striker dribbled at Nashville’s defense, and pushed his solo run into the 18 yard box. The defender took away König’s right-footed side, so he gladly pivoted to his left and launched an accurate strike into the top left corner.

Nashville took control of proceedings shortly thereafter, claiming sixty percent possession at one point and creating several scoring opportunities. FCC’s defense clung to the early lead, and went into the break leading by a single goal.

At halftime Alan Koch said “we need to do a better job at possessing the ball. . .we’re sagging way too much, giving them too much space, and allowing them to play in our half.”

Possession evened out after halftime, but Nashville was still the aggressor. They attacked relentlessly down the left, delivering cross after cross into the box. FCC’s defense held on long enough for a special moment to occur in the 73rd minute.

Fanendo Adi entering the match for his FC Cincinnati debut. Image: Ryan Meyer

Fanendo Adi, freshly signed from the Portland Timbers, entered the match and made his debut just five days after his transfer was announced. It was nearly a dream start for the striker, as Adi’s head connected with a Ledesma cross in the 81st minute. Nashville keeper Matt Pickens was up to the task though, and tipped the shot over the bar and safely out of play.

Nashville SC then got a reward for a match full of chances created. Lumbering striker Tucker Hume slotted an 85th minute strike past Evan Newton to level the contest. The Orange & Blue pushed for a late goal, but there wasn’t enough time, and the match ended in a stalemate.

Final Score: FC Cincinnati 1 – 1 Nashville SC

Standings Update

Despite the disappointing performance, the Orange & Blue added a point to their total and remain in first place. FC Cincinnati is undefeated in eleven games, and five points clear at the top of the Eastern Conference. Pittsburgh is lurking closely behind in second place. They dispatched the Richmond Kickers 3-0 at Highmark Stadium on Saturday night. FCC’s current unbeaten run now matches the team’s record unbeaten streak accumulated by John Harkes’ team in 2016.

Highlight of the Match

Danni König’s strike was the fastest goal in FC Cincinnati’s short history; just 28 seconds after kickoff.

Quote of the Match

Alan Koch said the following in the post match press conference.

“We’re a team. We have been a team since the first day in preseason. . .This week was an emotional week for the group, for the club, for the fans, for everybody. It’s somewhat fitting that it ended up being an emotional night. We focus on the collective, . . . It was great to see Adi make his debut tonight.”  

Stat of the Match

Nashville SC limited FC Cincinnati to just four total shots in the match. That’s FCC’s lowest total of the season by far. Prior to that their low on the season was 8 total shots, which happened on three occasions. It happened once against Indy Eleven in April and twice against New York Red Bulls II thereafter. FCC has only produced 5 on-target shots over the last two games at home, but still has a win and a draw from those two fixtures.

Who Started?

FC Cincinnati made four changes to the rotated lineup that featured in their last USL match at home, when they defeated NY Red Bulls II 2-1. However, they started the exact same lineup Saturday that featured against Nashville SC when these teams met just under a month ago at Nissan Stadium.

Ledesma – König (73′ Adi)
Albadawi (76′ McLaughlin)
Bone – Walker (67′ Gibson)
Lahoud
Smith – Lasso – Keinan – Hoyte
Newton

What’s Next?

Next up is game number five of a six game USL home stretch. They will face Penn FC at Nippert Stadium for one of the two home Sunday matches this season. Note the 6pm kickoff time. Adding intrigue to that match is the return of former FC Cincinnati player Tommy Heinemann. The 31-year-old striker was controversially released by the club during preseason for medical reasons and makes his first return to Cincinnati since preseason.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 season.
Nashville 8.4_Match Recap.png

FC Cincinnati 2-0 Tampa Bay Rowdies: Bonus Track

Image: Joe Craven

The Bonus Track segment is an abridged version of Orange & Blue Press’ Deeper Cuts series. It takes one or two components of a recent match and breaks it down in more detail.

The FC Cincinnati faithful were rewarded Saturday evening with as solid a display of 90 minutes of fútbol as we’ve seen this season. FCC created the best chances in the first half and went on to dominate the second half, resulting in a 2-0 blanking of the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The first win in five attempts versus the iconic American soccer franchise keeps the Orange & Blue atop the table.

The Orange & Blue Laundromat

Since the MLS announcement was made in late May, FCC has rolled off an eight-match USL unbeaten streak. Possibly even more impressive in this time frame are the five clean sheets the club has collectively earned, including three straight. Evan Newton and his back line have apparently opened a laundromat, specializing in clean sheets. They have not allowed a goal in over 285 minutes, the second-longest stretch in club history.

Newton now has 7 clean sheets in 15 USL starts this season. He has improved his goals against average to 0.87 goals per match and a save percentage of 75%. These statistics only trail Matt Pickens (Nashville SC) and Daniel Lynd (Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC) this season.

A key component to last night’s clean sheet can be seen in tackles won and lost between the two teams. FCC won an astounding 94% of their tackles (16 of 17 tackles won) as compared to the Rowdies 70% (7 of 10). The Orange & Blue captain Dekel Keinan led the team with four successful tackles. Blake Smith and Kenney Walker closely followed with three each. The physical and resolute FCC defense limited the Rowdies attack to only three shots on target, all by Jamaican international Junior Flemmings.

The Beauty in the Build-up

Goals win matches and are typically what we savor in highlight packages. However, sometimes the teamwork that creates the opportunity surpasses the final touch and celebration. The beauty in the build-up to both FCC goals is deserving of further accolades and breakdown.

First, let’s deconstruct the creative build-up that led to the opening goal of the match. The scoring opportunity starts at midfield with Forrest Lasso playing a ball to a wide open Corben Bone along the left flank. The overlap, spatial awareness, and interplay between Bone and Blake Smith creates the necessary space for Bone to deliver a sublime in-swinging cross to Emmanuel Ledesma’s head. The June USL player of the month out-jumps two defenders and converts his ninth goal of the season.

The lightning-quick counterattack resulting in the second goal may have been even more stunning. In the 84th minute, Bone cleverly controls the ball off his chest and taps it forward to Danni König. König drops a pass to Nazmi Albadawi, who spots Emery Welshman. Welshman, who just entered the match, receives the pass in stride and quickly draws two defenders down the field. The Canadian forward lays a perfectly-weighted through-ball to the trailing Dane. König drills the wonderfully timed pass with his left foot inside the cross bar to equal Ledesma with his ninth of the season.

Arguably two of the best team goals we’ve seen in 2018.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for a busy week of coverage as FCC hosts the Charlotte Independence on Wednesday and the New York Red Bulls II squad on Saturday.

FC Cincinnati 2 – 0 Tampa Bay Rowdies: Eight Unbeaten and FCC is Rolling

FC Cincinnati continued its 8 game unbeaten run with a 2-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday July 14th at Nippert Stadium.

Tampa Bay 7.14_Match Recap
Graphic: Connor Paquette / Image: Joe Craven

FC Cincinnati extended its USL unbeaten streak to eight games on Saturday, with a 2-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Nippert Stadium. Over 25,000 packed into UC’s campus on a steamy July evening to take in the action. A physical first half ended goalless even though the home side created several clear chances to score.

Alan Koch remarked after the match, “The group that Tampa brought in and loaded up with for the second half of the season can be very dangerous and you could see that tonight.”

Newly appointed Tampa Bay coach Neill Collins stacked his lineup with recently acquired talent, including forward Stefano Bonomo and midfielder Kwadwo Poku. Despite the injection of new blood following the departure of Marcel Schäfer, FC Cincinnati dominated the beginning and end of the first period. Emmanuel Ledesma nearly converted a free kick from just outside the box in the 13th minute. Corben Bone and Danni König also fired inches wide late in the first half.

FC Cincinnati found the back of Tampa Bay’s net in the second 45. Emmanuel Ledesma nodded a header into goal nine minutes after the start of the second half. Danni König then added an insurance goal in the 85th minute, finishing off a devastating counter-attack spearheaded by Emery Welshman. The Orange & Blue defeated the Rowdies for the first time in five competitive meetings, and shook off the ghost of their 2017 playoff defeat with the victory.

Final Score: FC Cincinnati 2-0 Tampa Bay Rowdies

Standings Update

FC Cincinnati remains on top of the Eastern Conference on 38 points after 19 matches played. Second place Pittsburgh, who is lurking just behind with games in hand, was inactive on Saturday and doesn’t play until next weekend against Charleston. That same Charleston Battery defeated a now James O’Connor-less Louisville City FC 2-1 on Saturday to claim third place in the Eastern Conference. Here’s a look at the top eight.

Screenshot 2018-07-14 23.33.26.png

Highlight of the Match

The game-deciding goal was delivered by a precision cross from the neon Orange boots of Corben Bone. Ledesma usually does it with his feet, but he can beat you with his head too.

Quote of the Match

Emmanuel Ledesma spoke in the post-match press conference about his aerial prowess.

“A long time ago [was last time I scored a header]. I never score with my head … That was an amazing ball from ‘Magic’ (Corben Bone).”

Who Started?

Alan Koch started the exact same lineup that featured in the 0-0 draw with Nashville last Saturday.

Ledesma – König
Albadawi
Walker-Bone
Lahoud
Smith –  Lasso – Keinan – Hoyte
Newton

What’s Next?

The Orange and Blue are quickly back into action on Wednesday for an 8pm match against the Charlotte Independence at Nippert Stadium. That game will be featured on ESPN2. Recall that Charlotte handed the Orange & Blue a humiliating 4-1 defeat away from home earlier in the season. The Orange & Blue will then face a surging New York Red Bulls II three days later to complete a stretch of three matches in eight days.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 season.
Tampa Bay 7.14_Match Recap

North Carolina FC 0 – 2 FC Cincinnati: Bonus Track

We take a look at how momentum swung between the teams during FC Cincinnati’s 2-0 victory at North Carolina FC.

Image: Ryan Meyer

The Bonus Track segment is an abridged version of Orange & Blue Press’ Deeper Cuts series. It takes one or two components of a recent match and breaks them down in more detail.

We may be 13 games into FC Cincinnati’s season, but the halfway point of the away schedule is just about here. Save for the hiccup against Charlotte, the team has been rock-solid on the road. The 2-0 clean sheet at North Carolina FC was their sixth road win in eight USL games. Throw in the US Open Cup win on the road against Pittsburgh last month, and FCC has enjoyed their best nine-game road stretch ever (7-1-1).

The more surprising number from the team’s road dominance might be how well the defense is playing. In eight road games, FCC has a +6 goal differential and four clean sheets. However, in five home games, FCC has only a +2 goal differential and zero clean sheets. The numbers might be askew due to facing Louisville there twice already. It also helps that Evan Newton is back to form, as he’s had three of those four away shutouts.

Tale of Four Quarters

The unique 90-minute time limit makes typical soccer games easy to follow. A team will usually show up for one half and disappear in the next, or vice versa. This one felt more like a basketball game, as advantage seemed to swing between teams in the middle of each half.

The game probably wouldn’t have gone the way of the Orange & Blue had it not been for the hot conditions. NCFC fired the first six shots of the game before FCC could muster any offense. Had it not been for solid play by Paddy Barrett and Forrest Lasso, NCFC would have been on the board early.

The hydration break at the 26th minute gave the team a chance to cool down and get their bearings. FC Cincinnati was visibly rattled by their slow start. Manu Ledesma was flashed a yellow card just prior to the break due to a delay in play. After the H2O, FCC controlled possession, shots on net, and goals for the rest of the half. Despite the disparity in shots in the first half (5-8), most from NCFC came from a distance and in the first 25 minutes. FCC used control in the midfield to eventually lead to shots—and Danni König’s goal—inside the box later in the half.

The halftime break reset momentum, as NCFC obtained more control to swing the overall possession numbers in their favor (52% vs. FCC’s 48%). NCFC fired seven shots in the first 30 minutes of the second half to FCC’s one lone shot. However, the defense was instrumental during this stretch, helping FCC lead the half in interceptions (11-5) and clearances (14-7).

FCC NCFC INT CLR 0609.png
Interceptions (left) and clearances (right) by NCFC (black) and FCC (green) in the 2nd half.

The key substitution—Jimmy McLaughlin coming on for Russell Cicerone in the 73rd minute—basically iced the game. Both teams had six shots after this sub, but FCC’s shots were accurate and at a shorter distance. Four of the six were on target, while only two of NCFC’s shots were on target.

Quality, Not Quantity

That’s the basic summary of this game. FCC used a combination of well-timed clearances and Newton’s hot hand in their half to keep many of NCFC’s 20 shots off-target or from way outside the box. On the other hand, FCC managed to penetrate the box for higher accuracy and success.

FCC NCFC SHOTS 0609.png
Shot chart for FCC (green) and NCFC (black).

Considering that FCC was without a few key players due to Wednesday’s 120-minute affair, the result couldn’t have been better. Let’s see if Alan Koch’s men can ride out their most congested portion of the schedule with wins at home.

Follow Orange & Blue Press for this week’s coverage of the upcoming games against Bethlehem Steel FC and the Richmond Kickers.

NY Red Bulls II 1 – 2 FC Cincinnati: Deeper Cuts

Detailed stats and deeper analysis as FC Cincinnati rebounds in USL play with a comeback 2-1 win over New York Red Bulls II at Red Bull Arena.

Image by Joe Craven

Following an eventful week where #MLS2CINCY became a reality, FC Cincinnati went back on the road to face a young, talented New York Red Bulls II squad. The Baby Bulls have historically given the Orange & Blue difficulty, winning three of the four previous tilts. After a sluggish start, FCC converted several second half chances to earn their first 3 points in New Jersey.

The road win, FCC’s fifth of the season, vaults the team back into first place in the Eastern Conference (for now). The squad now sits at 7-3-2 with 23 points. Remarkably, sixteen of these points have come away from home, where the team is 5-1-1. This matches the same number of road points earned during the entire 2017 season.

Whether it was the early 1 PM start time on the road or the heat and humidity, the Orange & Blue once again started sluggish. As we’ve seen previously this season, the backline was caught off guard early from high pressing forwards (Lou City and Pittsburgh come to mind). This time around, Blake Smith’s pass back to Forrest Lasso was intercepted, starting the NYRBII attack. The home side took advantage with Jared Stroud playing a square ball to Amando Moreno, who slotted the ball past the scrambling and disjointed defense. One thing is for certain—if you want to impact FCC’s defensive shape and efforts to play out of the back, press and press some more.

The Orange & Blue performance did not improve until the late stages of the first half. Fortunately, there are two halves to soccer, giving Alan Koch an opportunity to reset tactics, positions, and an eagerness to attack.

Magnifico Manu

First, we need to give credit where it is fully due—Emmanuel Ledesma, everyone! The highly touted Argentinian, who has played in top leagues throughout Italy, England, and Greece, has not disappointed. In the 62nd minute, his creativity and sublime touch found the needed equalizer for the Orange & Blue. Let’s take one more look at this delightful goal.

This takes Ledesma to 5 goals and 7 assists for the season. He’s now contributed to 12 of the 22 FCC goals this season. He leads the team in the following offensive categories:

  • Goals – 5 (tied with Danni König)
  • Assists – 7 (next players with two)
  • Shots – 27 (13 more than König & Bone)
  • Shots on Target – 13 (4 more than König)
  • Chances Created – 22 (10 more than Bone)

Ledesma has already earned Week 10 USL Player of the Week honors, as well as Best XI in Weeks 8 and 10. A fairly easy case can be made that he’s been the top new signing this season. Manu has been magnificent, the engine to the attack, and could lead this team to the next level.

Key Differences in the Match

Many times, there is a razor-thin margin in matches between a loss and earning three valuable points. Yesterday was no different. What looked like a sleepy, abysmal performance on the road turned out to be a productive day at the office. Let’s break down three key areas that defined the final score-line at Red Bull Arena.

Attacking Efficiency

Although the Red Bulls II out-shot FCC 13-8, the effectiveness and efficiency of these shots are what matter. Of their 13 shots, the home side put only one on target, the goal in the first half. This converts to a shooting accuracy of 7.7% and a conversion rate of 11.1%. [Note, USL defines conversion rate as goals divided by shots attempted (excluding blocked shots)]. On the flip side, the Orange & Blue had a shooting accuracy of 62.5% (five of eight shots on target) and a conversion rate of 28.6%. The direct result—2 goals for FCC versus 1 for the NYRBII. Obviously, the NYRBII penalty miss was the biggest shot off target of the day.

The next two statistical areas are not as sexy as shots and goals but may be even more telling to why FCC secured the away win.

Interceptions

An interception is defined as when a player intentionally takes a pass away by moving into the line of the intended ball. In the first half, both teams were near equal in this area—FCC held a small 13-10 interception advantage. The following chart illustrates these interceptions (FCC in green and NYRBII in black).

First-half Interceptions

Now look at the second half interception chart. FCC not only dominated 14 to 5, but more of these interceptions occurred further upfield in the Red Bull half (left side of the chart) that helped create the two FCC scoring chances.

Second-half Interceptions

Second-half Tackles

Similarly, the tackles the two squads had in the second half illustrate how effective FCC were at controlling the play and cementing the win. A successful tackle is when a player connects with the ball in a challenge on the ground and gains possession of the ball. A missed tackle is when the player loses possession of the ball to the other team.

Of note on the NYRBII tackle chart below, they had 8 successful tackles (green) to 8 unsuccessful tackles (red). These unsuccessful tackles predominantly occurred in the Red Bull defensive third (left side of the chart). This allowed FCC to keep the pressure and play mostly in the opposing half during the second stanza.

NYRBII Tackles (second half)

In contrast, FCC had 10 successful tackles in the second half and did not fail at a tackle once, a significant statistic against a strong Baby Bulls’ offense.

FCC Tackles (second half)

Alan Koch’s 63rd-minute substitutions of Danni König and Jimmy McLaughlin, following the NYRBII penalty miss, were perfectly timed and placed. Both players made immediate impacts contributing to the build-up in each of the two goals. Special mention should go to König for his winning tally, which now brings him equal on total FC Cincinnati career goals (16) with Sean Okoli and Djiby Fall.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press as FC Cincinnati returns home Wednesday for U.S. Open Cup fourth-round action versus the Loons of Minnesota United FC.

Charlotte Independence 4 – 1 FC Cincinnati: FCC’s Road Rampage Comes to an End

FC Cincinnati suffered a shocking defeat at the hands of the Charlotte Independence to end their unbeaten streak on the road.

Charlotte 5.12_Match Recap.png
Graphic: Connor Paquette / Image: JES Photography

FC Cincinnati had a frustrating night on Saturday, losing 4-1 on the road to the Charlotte Independence. After a cautious start to the game by both teams, Charlotte claimed the lead in the 38th minute from the foot of midfielder Cordell Cato. They then doubled it in first half stoppage-time when Yann Ekra’s long range effort found its way through traffic and into the bottom left corner of Spencer Richey’s goal.

Alan Koch changed the formation at halftime and also introduced Jimmy McLaughlin for Blake Smith. The move paid early dividends. Danni König scored the lone goal for the Orange & Blue in the 51st minute to bring the score to 2-1.

Charlotte then took the reigns for the remainder of the match. Six minutes after König’s strike, Kay Vosser scored a third for the Independence, assisted by a deft backheel from midfielder Jorge Herrera. FC Cincinnati forward Manu Ledesma went down with an apparent rib injury in the second half. He was substituted from the game in the 71st minute as a result. The Independence then added weight to the scoreline in the 87th minute when Eamon Zayed produced a fourth Charlotte goal.  Final score: Charlotte 4, FC Cincinnati 1.

Key Events

38′ – GOAL – CLT – Cordell Cato (assist Jorge Herrera)
45’+2 – GOAL – CLT – Yann Ekra – (assist Alex Martinez)
45′ – YELLOW CARD – CIN – Emmanuel Ledesma
51′ – GOAL – CIN – Danni König (assist Emmanuel Ledesma)
57′ – GOAL – CLT – Kay Vosser (assist Jorge Herrera)
68′ – YELLOW CARD – Alex Martinez
71′ – YELLOW CARD – CIN – Richie Ryan
75′ – YELLOW CARD – CIN – Forrest Lasso
85′ – YELLOW CARD – CIN – Dekel Keinan
87′ – GOAL – CLT – Eamon Zayed (assist Kay Vosser)

Match Notes

Despite the loss, FCC is still tied for first place in the Eastern Conference. They are currently level with the Charleston Battery on 17 points. However, rival Louisville City is only one point behind with two games in hand.

The team will be without Forrest Lasso against North Carolina FC one week from today after he acquired his fifth yellow card. That caution will earn him a one-game suspension.

Starting XI
Ledesma (71’ Welshman) – König (98’ Ameobi)
Bone
Lahoud – Walker
Ryan
Smith (45’ McLaughlin) – Lasso – Keinan – Hoyte
Richey

Alan Koch switched to a 3-4-3 formation and introduced Jimmy McLaughlin for Blake Smith at the start of the second half.

Nazmi Albadawi missed the match with a minor injury and Evan Newton made his return to the 18 but did not play.

As of tonight, Forrest Lasso is the lone player that has played every single minute of the 2018 FC Cincinnati campaign.

What’s Next?

FC Cincinnati won’t have much time to dwell on the defeat. They return home to play against Detroit City FC at Gettler Stadium on Wednesday, May 16th in the US Open Cup. That match is followed by a league clash with North Carolina FC the following Saturday.

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

Charlotte 5.12_Match Recap

FC Cincinnati 4 – 2 Atlanta United 2: Offensive Explosion Vaults FCC into First

FC Cincinnati has gone streaking! The Orange & Blue win their third straight, a 4-2 home victory over Atlanta United 2.

Atlanta 5.5.2_Match Recap
Design: Connor Paquette / Image: JES Photography

FC Cincinnati used a plethora of first-half strikes to roll to their third-straight win, beating Atlanta United 2 by a 4-2 scoreline. The wet atmosphere failed to put a damper on the home team, who capitalized on two Manu Ledesma goals to pass Louisville City and move into first place.

The first 25 minutes was predominantly owned by FCC’s possession, but the floodgates soon opened from two similar plays. Emmanuel Ledesma chased down a pass that skirted through the defensive line in the 26th minute, then passed to a streaking Danni Konig for an easy tap-in. FCC doubled the lead when Ledesma again broke past the sleeping defense, grabbing a Blake Smith pass to beat the keeper in the 28th minute.

Atlanta refused to give in and quickly earned a goal just minutes afterward. A foul from Dekel Keinan led to a deflection in the box from the free kick. Jon Gallagher then pushed it past Spencer Richey to make it a 2-1 game.

Cincinnati and Atlanta exchanged goals again later in the half. Corben Bone struck for his third goal in three games in the 38th minute, but a stray pass from Justin Hoyte fell to Laurent Kissiedou, who fired it past Richey for a 3-2 halftime score.

The second-half scoring started before the fans knew what happened. Goalkeeper Nicolas Caraux failed to clear from a charging Konig, and the pass fell to Ledesma. The midfielder struck a shot past Caraux for a quick score to make it 4-2.

Much of the second half involved crisp passing that helped FCC whittle down the clock, and the match yielded surprisingly few yellow cards. Guido Gonzalez Jr. provided quite a fair game, carding only three players all night. By the time the final whistle blew, FCC had passed Louisville City FC in the standings, who lost earlier in the day to Indy Eleven, 1-0.

Key Events

26′ – GOAL – Danni Konig (CIN) (Emmanuel Ledesma assist)
28′ – GOAL – Emmanuel Ledesma (CIN) (Blake Smith assist)
30′ – YELLOW CARD – Dekel Keinan (CIN)
31′ – GOAL – Jon Gallagher (ATL) (AJ Cochran assist)
37′ – YELLOW CARD – Laurent Kissiedou (ATL)
38′ – GOAL – Corben Bone (CIN)
41′ – GOAL – Laurent Kissiedou (ATL)
46′ – GOAL – Emmanuel Ledesma (CIN)
87′ – YELLOW CARD – Andrew Carleton (ATL)

Match Notes

Starting XI 
König – Ledesma (Welshman 65′)
(diamond) Bone – McLaughlin (Lahoud 71′) – Ryan – Walker
Smith – Lasso – Keinan – Hoyte
Richey

Goalkeeper Evan Newton missed his third-straight match with a day-to-day hip injury, and midfielder Nazmi Albadawi missed his second game in a row due to his own rib injury.

FC Cincinnati had only one yellow card all night, an amazing achievement in itself, considering the referee. However, that yellow card was Dekel Keinan’s fourth this year. His next yellow card will lead to a one-game suspension for accumulation.

FC Cincinnati rises to 5-1-2 (17 pts) and occupies first place, although Louisville City has a game in hand. Atlanta United II loses their third-straight game and falls to 1-3-3 (6 pts), slipping down to 13th place.

What’s Next?

The Orange and Blue are once again on the road, travelling to Charlotte for a Saturday matchup against the Independence to kick off the “Queen City Cup” challenge. Charlotte lost 2-0 to Charleston on Saturday and currently sits in 10th place in the standings.

Check Orange & Blue Press on Sunday for our Deeper Cuts analysis of Saturday’s result, and coverage of next week’s gameday in North Carolina.

Atlanta 5.5.2_Match Recap