FC Cincinnati 1 – Louisville City FC 1: Game of Twos

Twos were the theme in FC Cincinnati’s derby day showdown with Louisville City FC on Saturday. Plus match photos and quotes from the stalemate at Nippert.

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Photo Credit: JES Photography / Joe Schmuck
FC Cincinnati played Louisville City FC to a 1-1 stalemate at Nippert Stadium on Saturday. The Orange and Blue equalized late to secure a point from a match that their rival had led since the 20th minute. Midfielder and former Louisville City FC captain Aodhan Quinn got the equalizer. Quinn respectfully didn’t celebrate the goal against his old club.

Alan Koch introduced Andrew Wiedeman and Daryl Fordyce in the 60th minute in an aggressive move to put pressure on LCFC’s defense. His team shifted to a 3-5-2 formation thereafter and it paid off with Quinn’s goal. Forward Djiby Fall was sent off for a dangerous tackle nine minutes after the equalizer and will miss next week’s game against Bethlehem Steel FC.

Game of Twos

Two goals were scored in the match, one for each side.
For the 2nd consecutive match FC Cincinnati conceded an early goal from a shot outside of their own penalty box.
For the 2nd consecutive match they’ve come from behind to equalize.
FC Cincinnati is now 2-2-2 after this result on 8 points.
FC Cincinnati has a +2 goal difference after the match.
2 red cards have been issued to FC Cincinnati over their past two matches.

Bitegate

After the match, Louisville City head coach James O’Connor accused FC Cincinnati forward Djiby Fall of biting Niall McCabe in the aftermath of the red card. There was shoving between the two players and their faces came together during the dispute. The angle of the video shows the back of McCabe’s head so it’s difficult to clearly tell what happened. The issue has been reported to the USL by LCFC. FC Cincinnati has issued a statement in defense of Djiby Fall, as reported by Pat Brennan. Stay tuned for more details on the USL’s review as this story unravels.

Update: Djiby Fall was disciplined by USL with a 1 game ban and a fine for the red card plus 5 additional games for major game misconduct.

Photos

Twenty five images of blackout derby day at Nippert courtesy of JES Photography / Joe Schmuck. For any given image, a high resolution version can be found by scrolling down and clicking “View Full Size.”

Quotable

Koch: “We were running on empty and Louisville were definitely the better team.”
This was the third match FC Cincinnati played in eight days. In contrast, LCFC had a full week of rest coming into the match.

Koch (of the substitutions in the 60th minute): “We pushed Daryl up front, …It was a tactical adjustment. It allowed us to get more bodies further up the field. And when you play direct, which we did in the last 30 minutes, you need to get more bodies around the ball.”

Koch: “We are getting very good at playing the last few minutes a man down. Hopefully that does not continue.”

Quinn: “I have a lot of respect for that club, the coaches, the players, they treated me so well there…there was no chance I was going to celebrate if I scored.”

Back to Bethlehem

FC Cincinnati remains in fifth place in the Eastern Conference after six matches played. In a strange scheduling twist, FC Cincinnati heads back to the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania to take on Bethlehem Steel FC on their home turf for the second time in the space of 20 days. Why so soon and why are we playing Bethlehem three times this year? Only the USL scheduling gods know for sure.

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Preseason Battles to Watch: Center Forward

The departure of Sean Okoli left a 16 goal hole in FC Cincinnati’s attack. Who will lead the line for the Orange and Blue in their second season?

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Daryl Fordyce scored the first preseason goal for the Orange and Blue.

FC Cincinnati’s preseason continues on Wednesday when they face the Chicago Fire in Bradenton, Florida. It’s the second of three games this week at the IMG Academy Pro Classic tournament. The Orange and Blue lost 3-2 to OKC Energy in their first game.

One of the most interesting preseason battles to watch over the next five weeks will be the competition for the center forward position. Both formations used on Sunday (4-2-3-1 and 4-1-4-1) featured a central striker leading the attack, so let’s take a look at those in contention for that role.

Djiby Fall – Veteran Senegalese front-man Djiby Fall signed with the Orange and Blue last week and will wear the number 9 shirt this season. There’s no doubt that the 31 year old has the credentials to lead the line. His last two seasons haven’t been as productive though, with just five goals in 44 appearances in Turkey and Kazakstan. Can he reproduce the good form that saw him star in Scandinavia?  Or is this one too many stops on his world tour? Given the profile of his signing, and a trophy case that features two golden boots, it’s Djiby’s job to lose. He’ll be pushed for that job early in the season by those that follow.

Victor Mansaray – The Seattle Sounders loanee has serious potential, but at age 20, isn’t the finished product yet. Vic has a lot of similarities with the 2016 edition of Sean Okoli. He is a confident and powerful young striker with Sounders roots and MLS potential. Okoli obviously won the center forward job last year and rewarded FC Cincinnati with a Golden Boot and MVP caliber performance. However, Okoli is four years older than Mansaray and didn’t have as much competition for the starting role. Mansaray looks very talented, but is still very raw. He can play wide right and may find a place there before securing a role as the go-to front man.

Daryl Fordyce – The thirty year old Ulsterman was the only forward to score in FC Cincinnati’s first preseason game, netting a well taken 60th minute goal. He is perhaps being overlooked by some due to FC Cincinnati’s more recent, more flashy signings. In NASL, he was also a consistent producer at FC Edmonton for four years. He has the size and skill for the role, and Fordyce has more goals over the past three seasons than any striker on the roster. He also has the highest goals per appearance ratio during that period. On Sunday, Fordyce played centrally behind Djiby, so Koch may fit him in elsewhere even if he doesn’t lead the line.

Omar Cummings – The Big Cat suffered a season-ending knee injury last August in a draw against the Rochester Rhinos. Although he’s attended the early February training sessions, he hasn’t been competing actively with the others. Omar started last season sidelined with injury as well. He demonstrated though that he’s capable of recovering and having a big impact once fully fit. He may factor at lead striker later in the season, but not on opening day. At 34, he’s likely to have the most influence in the locker room and off the bench.

Here’s a look at these strikers stats from the last three seasons, including cups.

Player Age Appearances Mins Goals Goals/Appearance Minutes/Goals
Djiby Fall 31 71 3478 14 0.197 248
Victor Mansaray 20 40 2524 7 0.175 361
Daryl Fordyce 30 83 6214 25 0.301 249
Omar Cummings 34 76 4348 18 0.237 242

Stats aggregated from Soccerway**

This all assumes that the team will be structured around a central forward. Depending on how these players perform in preseason, Koch may try to find space for more than one in the starting 11. The 4-4-2 and 4-4-1-1 are formations that are out of favor in many coaching circles, but could be an option for this group. Koch will have to identify his best eleven and right size them to a formation that fits their skills. Alternatively, he could settle on a formation that suits his tactics, and let that drive roster decisions. We still have a lot to learn about FC Cincinnati’s coach and players this preseason.

Andrew Wiedeman, Andy Craven, Casey Townsend, and Kadeem Dacres are all attacking options as well. One or two may also get a crack at playing central striker this preseason but are more likely to feature in other roles for the Orange and Blue.

What do you think? Who will start the season up top and what formation best accommodates these attacking options? Leave a message in the comments section below.

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** Some small discrepancies have been noted between stats from Soccerway and stats from league websites.  The same general pattern emerges however.

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