FC Cincinnati’s Defensive Fortress – 2018’s Unsung Hero

The glory and accolades seem to favor the goal scorers, but the FC Cincinnati defense it the unsung hero of the 2018 season.

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Image: Joe Craven

With FC Cincinnati pulling away from the pack in the East, it’s clear they’ve found winning form this season. The offensive explosion this season has produced 56 goals to date, compared to 46 for the entire 2017 season. Those goals have helped produce an impressive 67.9% win rate. With only three losses in 28 games this season, there’s another factor at work here — a tough, organized, and efficient defense.

The Orange & Blue have remained unbeaten since May 26th with a 13-0-4 record. During the 17 game unbeaten streak they’ve recorded nine clean sheets and conceded 11 goals.  For the season they currently stand fifth best in all of USL keeping opponents scoreless in 12 matches. The 1-0 blanking of Louisville City FC showcased FCC’s defensive fortitude as last year’s USL champions threw the kitchen sink at FCC’s goal. A barrage of 43 crosses and 19 total scoring attempts resulted in only 5 shots on target for LCFC. These performances have been the norm for the FC Cincinnati defenders throughout the season and will be essential to success in the postseason.

The Orange and Blue Stronghold

The addition of key players this season has proved the difference maker all over the field. The defensive unit is evidence of coach Alan Koch’s commitment to building a championship squad. The center backs continue to impress with Dekel Keinan, Forrest Lasso, and Paddy Barrett sharing the duties of anchoring the back line. These additions have become a staple of the starting 11 this year. The outside of the defense has also had new additions. Blake Smith has seen significant playing time and newly acquired Pa Konate adds speed, depth, and Serie A credentials. Returning players Justin Hoyte, Matt Bahner, and Sam Dewitt round out the Orange and Blue’s concrete barrier. With Bahner coming off an injury and Konate back from international duty, coach Koch has all of his defensive weapons available for Sunday’s match. Here, coach Koch speaks about preparing for a Sunday match and managing training for the returning players.

Workhorses

The unsung heroes of the pitch rack up some impressive numbers. Here’s a summary of the stats for the five defensive players with the most playing time.

  • Dekel Keinan:  20 games played (1,746 minutes), 115 clearances, 94.4% successful tackle rate, 35 interceptions, 2 goals.
  • Forresst Lasso:  24 games played (2,124 minutes), 183 clearances, 79.2% aerial dual success rate, 38 interceptions, 2 goals.
  • Paddy Barrett:  12 games played (1,080 minutes), 64 clearances, 77% passing accuracy rate, 25 interceptions, 1 goal.
  • Blake Smith:  24 games played (2,005 minutes), 81.2% passing accuracy rate, 13 successful crosses, 4 assists, 1 goal.
  • Justin Hoyte:  24 games played (2,160 minutes), 79.4% passing accuracy rate, 15 successful crosses, 2 assists.

Offensive Weapons Too

FC Cincinnati’s defensive fortress has the ability to get forward and push into the attack as well. The back line has combined for a total of 48 shots, 6 assists, and 6 goals. Here’s captain Dekel Keinan bringing the game level against Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

The old saying of a house is only as good as the foundation it’s built on can be used throughout the sports world. Soccer is certainly no exception. The glory and accolades seem to favor the goal scorers, the play makers, the stars. Those of us fortunate enough to experience the game as players and coaches know one thing for certain, a good defense will carry you to championships. FC Cincinnati is showing it has what it takes.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for continued coverage of FC Cincinnati as they finish their regular season and prepare for the playoffs.

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International Experience Lines FC Cincinnati’s Roster

As we wish Mike Lahoud and Pa Konate safe travels and good luck at AFCON, we highlight
ALL of the international experience on FCC’s roster.

Last Thursday, FCC announced that two players will take part in the African Cup of Nations qualifying matches scheduled for early September. Midfielder Mike Lahoud and defender Pa Konate will each travel abroad, and represent Sierra Leone and Guinea respectively. The international matches will be played on September 9th, and the pair will miss FCC’s next match against Louisville City at Slugger Field.

The 32nd edition of the African Cup of Nations will be held in June 2019 in Cameroon. Qualification for the tournament is now underway and extends over 5 match days held between June of 2017 to March of 2019. The upcoming September fixtures represent Matchday 2 of the qualification process. Lahoud’s Sierra Leone won its first match over Kenya. Guinea also won its opening match against the Ivory Coast, an African powerhouse. If these two players continue to be selected at the international level, they will play again in October and November of 2018, and March of 2019.

FC Cincinnati actually has three other players besides Lahoud and Konate with appearances at the full international level. Let’s take a look at the players who have grabbed the opportunity to play for their native land.

Dekel Keinan

Need an experienced international defender to captain your squad, and contribute goals in big games, like Saturday’s equalizer against Pittsburgh? Look no further than Dekel Keinan.

Keinan is the most decorated international player on FC Cincinnati’s roster. After extensive time with the Israeli national team at the U-21 and U-23 level, he received 27 total senior caps. The native of Rosh HaNikra was a regular in defense for Israel over a six year period from 2008 to 2013. He made notable contributions during the 2010 and 2014 World Cup qualifying campaigns. Israel, unfortunately, did not qualify for the World Cup finals in either cycle.

Justin Hoyte

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Justin Hoyte played extensively for the England at the U-16 through the U-21 levels, making 58 appearances. The native of Leytonstone in the East London suburbs, he had ambitions to play for the senior national team. It wasn’t to be though, and in 2013, he made himself available to play for Trinidad and Tobago, where his father Les was born. He earned 18 caps for the Soca Warriors over a four year period and appeared in friendlies, the Gold Cup, and the early stages of the 2018 World Cup qualifying.

Emery Welshman

Emery Welshman was born in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, a suburb of Toronto. His parent are Guyanese though, and he is therefore eligible to play for their national team. He earned his first cap in 2015 and has made 5 appearances thereafter for the Golden Jaguars. He scored for Guyana in a friendly against Barbados, and also netted in a World Cup qualifier against St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Experience Just Below the Senior Level

While the five referenced above advanced to appear for the senior national team, several others have represented their country at levels just below. Fatai Alashe made several appearances for the United States U-23 squad during qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics. He even got a call-up to the senior national team for the 2016 January camp under Jürgen Klinsmann. Unfortunately, an injury cut Alashe’s experience short, and he withdrew from the subsequent friendlies.

Fanendo Adi made two appearances with the U-23 Nigerian team in 2011. He was also called-up to the senior team for an African Cup of Nations qualifier in 2017, but didn’t get into the match. Sem De Wit made a single appearance with the Netherlands U-18 team in a match against Austria in 2012. Goalkeepers Spencer Richey and Even Newton also represented the United States at the U-17 level. Spencer Richey went with the U.S. to the 2009 U-17 World Cup in Nigeria.

With the build-out of next year’s MLS roster, FC Cincinnati will add even more experienced international talent to the squad. They might even sign players in the mix for the U.S. Mens National Team. The prospects are exciting, but there’s a trade-off of course. The MLS and international calendars don’t always complement each other well. Alan Koch and Luke Sassano will will have to manage these players time away from the club, just like they have to now for Konate and Lahoud. Senior level internationals come with prestige, but they also come with commitments that must be considered when building a roster deep enough to compete successfully in America’s top flight.

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

FC Cincinnati 2 – 0 Charlotte Independence: Cincy’s Set-Piece Work Succeeds

FC Cincinnati’s clean-sheet run stretches to four games with a 2-0 dusting of the Charlotte Independence.

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FC Cincinnati extended its unbeaten streak to nine games and exterminated some ghosts in the process. The Orange & Blue got some vengeance for their only road loss earlier in the season by defeating Charlotte 2-0. While the Independence claim this year’s Queen Cities Cup on a 4-3 aggregate, FCC now has four straight shutouts and six in their last eight games.

FCC marched out a similar lineup from Saturday and got out to a flying start. In the 7th minute, Emmanuel Ledesma fired a corner kick that found Forrest Lasso’s forehead, only for the ball to clang off the crossbar. However, Dekel Keinan swept up the crumbs to push the ball into the net for his first goal of the season.

In the 20th minute, FCC finally got their first set piece of the season into the goal. Lasso bent down for a Kenny Walker cross in the box to beat goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra. The defender’s first goal of the season gave Cincy the 2-0 lead that lasted the rest of the game.

While the second half was without offensive sparks, there was still plenty of opportunities. Charlotte’s best chance came in the 60th minute—a free kick from Jay Voser almost skirted past both teams, but Evan Newton dove to his left to pad the ball aside. Ledesma almost gave FCC a three-goal lead in the 78th minute with a stellar Olympico from the corner, only for the goal to be blown dead from a foul. FCC wasted away the remaining time to collect all three points.

Final Score: FC Cincinnati 2-0 Charlotte Independence

Standings Update

FC Cincinnati still sits atop the table, extending their lead to seven points over idle Pittsburgh. The Riverhounds face third-place Charleston on Saturday, giving FCC a chance to extend their edge over at least one of these teams. Charlotte remains in eighth place.

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Highlight of the Match

Both goals were the result of beautiful set pieces, but Lasso’s goal at least gave the big kid a chance to dance.

Quote of the Match

Coach Alan Koch addressed what the team had taken from the 4-1 loss in Charlotte and applied to tonight’s game:

“(The Independence) are a team that is very, very good at finding space. You could see that tonight. When they did find space, they looked dangerous, so we took the space away from them, and we nullified all of their strengths. That’s what we learned from the last game.”

Who Started?

Koch provided two changes to the team that started against Tampa Bay last Saturday. The formation was also more of a 4-2-3-1 setup, with Jimmy McLaughlin replacing Nazmi Albadawi and Emery Welshman on for Danni König.

Welshman
Ledesma (Albadawi 89′) – Bone – McLaughlin (Cicerone 76′)
Walker – Lahoud
Smith –  Lasso – Keinan – Hoyte
Newton

Of note, Ledesma and Welshman both picked up yellow cards in the game. Ledesma’s card is his 7th of the season, putting him at risk of getting a two-game suspension with his next card.

What’s Next?

Ain’t no rest for the weary—the Orange & Blue suit up for the third time in eight days on Saturday against New York Red Bulls II. New York has won three straight after a 2-1 victory over Bethlehem Wednesday night. FC Cincinnati has beaten the Baby Bulls in their last two games, the most recent being a 2-1 win on the road in June.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 season.
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Player Pairing of the Match – Keinan & Lasso

Alan Koch emphasized player pairings as a key component of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 roster strategy. Steve Buckeridge examines which pairing stood out for him in the victory at Charleston.

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Photo Credit Ross Almers Photography

Alas, we have regular season action to dissect and analyze. One of the key themes Alan Koch has been conveying this season is the desire to find and create player pairings. He hopes to accentuate and rely on these pairings to produce results and provide much-needed depth (which has been lacking the first two seasons). This will be key for the demands of a 34 game USL regular season, and hopefully, deep US Open Cup and playoff runs.

The 2018 preseason introduced this concept to the Orange and Blue faithful, and we now have ninety minutes of USL play to paint the following portrait of one of these pairings.

Center Back Duo – Keinan and Lasso

This may have been the clearest pairing to evolve and come together this preseason. In a need to shore up a defense that allowed 51 goals against in 32 regular season games last season, and to replace Austin Berry and Harrison Delbridge, Coach Koch set out to scout and sign Maccabi Haifa captain, Dekel Keinan.

November 10, 2017 – Dekel Keinan signs. [FCC Press Release]
“Dekel is a Leader of men”; “He is quite simply a winner…”

Dekel was the club’s first offseason acquisition and was quickly followed by the signing of two more formidable center-backs all within a ten-day time frame.

November 17, 2017 – Paddy Barret signs. [FCC Press Release]
“Paddy is an uncompromising center back who also has the technical skills to play out of the back.”

November 20, 2017 – Forrest Lasso signs. [FCC Press Release]
“He [Lasso] is a major physical presence and for a big man has very good technical skills. He is a supreme danger on set-pieces.”

Dekel earned the Orange and Blue armband for his leadership on and off the pitch, and he is a natural pairing alongside 24-year-old and budding force Forrest Lasso. Besides their clear physical presence and shot blocking prowess within our 18-yard box, this union provides vocal direction on the pitch, a prominent aerial threat on set pieces, and the ability to control possession and play out of the back in multiple scenarios — First, wide to the outside fullbacks; second, a link to the spine and central defending midfield duo; third up the flanks and over defenses to streaking wingers; or finally to connect through balls to the central attacking midfielder and forward.

As seen in the gutty 1-0 season-opening win at Charleston Battery, this pairing played a significant role in helping to keep the clean sheet and to secure the win. Yes, by all means, Evan Newton’s heroic saves earned him Man of the Match (MOTM) honors, and Blake Smith’s winner will be remembered as the keys to victory. However, the tireless work of this center-back duo throughout the game, especially in the nerve-racking closing minutes, earned them my Player Pairing of the Match.

Of note, anytime there was a scramble inside our box (and there were too many for comfort), one of these two appeared to get a head or a body part on the ball to re-direct it out of danger. They commanded the defensive wall for every dangerous Battery set piece and were able to repel those shots and prevent further peril. The Dekel-Lasso combination accounted for 21 of FCC’s 33 clearances and 7 of the 8 defensive blocks on the night as seen in the following clearance map.

Defensive Heat Map

Most importantly though, was the partnership and communication they used to share marking responsibilities for CB93’s athletic threat Ian Svantesson. They limited the Tulsa Roughneck transfer to just two real opportunities, and thankfully Newton’s reaction saves prevented those from reaching the back of the net. The beauty of this pairing is that it should continue to blossom throughout the season and fortify FC Cincinnati’s defense.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for additional player pairing analyses and more coverage FC Cincinnati’s 2018 season.

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FC Cincinnati 1 – 2 Sacramento Republic FC: A Disappointing Finish to the Preseason

In a preseason match between MLS hopefuls, FC Cincinnati loses 2-1 to Sacramento Republic FC at Nippert Stadium.

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Graphic: Connor Paquette

At the end of the preseason schedule last year, FC Cincinnati made their first trip to the West Coast and scratched out a last-second 2-2 draw against Sacramento Republic FC. With both teams waiting for MLS to make an expansion call, FC Cincinnati played the role of the hosts to close out this year’s preseason.

Unfortunately for the Orange & Blue, they could not duplicate last year’s performance, falling 2-1 to the Republic at Nippert Stadium.

Sacramento had most of the offensive control early in the match, applying pressure in the FCC half for the majority of the first period. Evan Newton was challenged a few times by his former team and appeared to have left the net open in the 18th minute, only for Sacramento forward Cameron Iwasa to muff the shot.

While FCC was laboring to get their passes to connect, Sacramento took advantage of their possession. Midfielder Kevin Aléman got a shot on Newton in the box in the 33rd minute, only for the save to be deflected to Iwasa for an easy rebound to make the score 1-0.

After the goal, Cincinnati appeared to get their bearings, as runs by Corben Bone and Justin Hoyte applied more pressure to Sacramento’s defense. A late first-half header by Forrest Lasso was swung aside by Sacramento’s Josh Cohen with a fingertip save, keeping the score 1-0 at halftime.

The second half led to a bit more physical play from both teams, as FCC tried to pressure the midfield for possession, only for incidental contact with Sacramento to twice halt the momentum. FCC’s best chance, a Jimmy McLaughlin breakaway in the 68th minute, was snuffed out by a fine save by Cohen.

Sacramento increased the lead to 2-0 in the 72nd minute. Kenney Walker was unable to clear out a ball in the defensive half, and after a series of pinballing deflections, midfielder Villyan Bijev fired a shot from the left that snuck under Newton’s sprawling effort to save.

FCC finally made it a game in the 84th minute. A Daniel Haber corner kick sailed high to the left of the box, where Dekel Keinan looped a header past Cohen. Sacramento managed to salt much of the remaining time away, despite a chance by Ameobi to tie it up late, giving the Republic the 2-1 final score.

Key Events

33′ – SRFC GOAL – Cameron Iwasa (assisted by Kevin Aléman)
72′ – SRFC GOAL – Villyan Bijev (unassisted)
84′ – FCC GOAL – Dekel Keinan (assisted by Daniel Haber)

Yellow cards
20′ – Forrest Lasso (FCC)
25′ – Cole Seiler (SRFC)
61′ – Emmanuel Ledesma (FCC)

Match Notes

FC Cincinnati suffered its first loss of the seven-game preseason (4W-1L-2T), while Sacramento heads home with its second win in the preseason (2W-2L-1T). Newton gave up his first goals of the preseason, but FCC still managed to score a goal, giving the team at least one in all seven preseason games. Keinan is the only FC Cincinnati player to bag more than 1 goal. Keinan also sported the captain’s band for FCC.

Starting XI (4-2-3-1)
Newton (GK)
Hoyte – Keinan – Lasso – Smith (Bahner 77′)
Walker (Seymore 77′) – Ryan
Ledesma (Haber 73′) – Bone (Albadawi 77′) – McLaughlin
Ameobi

Of note, Lance Laing (bone bruise) and Danni Konig (back) were left off the starting roster due to injury concerns. Emery Welshman, Sem De Wit, Garrett Halfhill, Josu, and Mark Village were also left off the starting roster.

What’s Next?

The 2018 USL regular season starts next Saturday with what people should be dubbing the “Groundhog Day Derby”, as FC Cincinnati travels to South Carolina to face the Charleston Battery. Both of the past two seasons have started with one-goal losses at Charleston, but hopefully, FCC will have the luck of the Irish on their side this time for the St. Patrick’s Day tilt.

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

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FCC vs. Nashville: Goal Distribution, PK Concerns, and Goalkeepers

Analysis of FC Cincinnati’s goal distribution, defensive concerns, and goalkeeping battle after the preseason tilt vs. Nashville.

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FC Cincinnati finally made its 2018 home “debut” on Saturday before a sold-out throng of soccer-hungry fans, but there is one last week of preseason work before the team begins the harsh 2018 USL season. Let’s dive into how the team looks after its 2-2 preseason tie with Nashville SC.

Offense By Committee

The “closer by committee” concept may not exactly work for a baseball team, but so far, the idea of spreading around the offense is working for FCC. The goals by Lance Laing and Emery Welshman gives the squad 9 preseason goals in 5 games, and each has been scored by a separate player. So far, the midfield has scored the most (5), while the defenders and forwards have both scored twice.

Granted, a span of five games is a very small sample size, and we’ve only seen the team performing at a preseason level. But the distribution of goals could lead to some good results, especially if the offense scores at a click close to twice a game. Let’s consider some of the stats that came from the past two USL champions:

  • In 2017, Louisville City got 65 USL regular season goals from 17 players, even though their leading scorer (Luke Spencer) only had 11. By comparison, FCC only got 46 from 14 different players (Djiby with 15).
  • In 2016, New York Red Bulls II got 61 goals from 17 players, Brandon Allen leading with 15. While Sean Okoli led the league with 16, FCC only got a total of 41 from 11 players.

Simply put, the key to winning in the USL may be to not only score in high quantity but also to make sure the offense can come from any direction. One of the biggest problems FCC had last year was goal production outside of the forward position; 54% of the goals were scored by the forwards. That likely changes this year.

Preseason MVP?

The “Preseason MVP” is an absurd concept, but so far, we’ve seen some strong midfield performances, and if such an award existed, Lance Laing would garner a lot of votes. His movement along the left has provided speed and skill, and the crosses he’s delivered in previous games have been precise.

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Lance Laing

Laing’s goal from outside the box right before halftime against Nashville was deceptively filthy, catching the corner of the net past Pickens. While he put more shots on frame in the second half, Laing’s approach and hustle appeared to be contagious, as Blake Smith shook off a frustrating first half to burst up the side from feeds by Laing. Good things are happening on that side, which should also open Manu Ledesma on the opposite side of the field when the defense focuses on Laing.

Defensive Concerns

While it has been hard to let Harrison Delbridge leave for Melbourne City and watch Austin Berry retire, it’s safe to say that the FCC crowd has rallied behind the new pieces in the defensive line.

Early in the game, Dekel Keinan suffered a brutal and bloody injury over his right eye from contact during a header in the Nashville box. Keinan could have easily been taken out as a precaution. But after a few minutes on the ground, he patiently got medical treatment on the sidelines, then returned to the game to play a full 70 minutes. While it’s great to see Keinan stick it out, this was a scary moment that almost brought out the stretcher.

Let’s hope it’s merely a flesh wound.

While Keinan and Forrest Lasso played solid defense, the second squad’s late foul for a penalty kick is still a cause for concern. FC Cincinnati has given up only four goals in five games so far, but two have been from the penalty spot. The team will have to reverse the trend from last year, as they gave up many more penalty kick goals (8) than they created (3).

Who’s The New Mitch?

Spencer Richey looked relatively solid in net over the full 90 minutes, despite giving up a sun-screened first-half goal and a penalty-kick goal that went out of reach. So it’s still hard to say how Koch and goalkeeper coach Jack Stern will deploy the trio of goalkeepers this season.

On one hand, Richey has played the most minutes of all three goalkeepers and has played in all five games in some capacity. However, Richey and Village have both given up the four preseason goals, while Newton has not yielded any yet. An argument can be made that Newton hasn’t been fully tested yet, so it’s still difficult to make a final decision.

What we can assume is that it’s a two-keeper race for now, as Village appears to be in place for third on the depth chart. The game versus Sacramento should spell out the goalkeeping situation between Richey and Newton. Realistically, it appears that Koch can have more confidence in playing two goalkeepers than he did in 2017.

One More Week

The Orange & Blue will wrap up their preseason schedule this week with a match at Gettler Stadium versus the University of Cincinnati on Wednesday, followed by the first 2018 game in Nippert Stadium against Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday. By then, the team should be set in stone and ready to start the 2018 USL season.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press as we wrap up FC Cincinnati’s 2018  preseason slate.

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Richie Ryan

NKU Norse 0 – 3 FC Cincinnati: One Step Closer to Home

Taking another step closer to the regular season, FC Cincinnati defeats Northern Kentucky in a local preseason tilt.

NKU-FCC-Header2-20180227After three undefeated games on the road (2-0-1), FC Cincinnati was almost back home, as their most recent stop took them to a tangle at Northern Kentucky University on Tuesday night. While this was not officially a home game for FC Cincinnati, 1,497 fans from both sides crammed the stands to watch the Orange & Blue take down the Norse 3-0 with a well-balanced attack on a chilly February evening.

Enjoying their first game since a 2-1 away win against Indy Eleven, Alan Koch trotted out a starting eleven that may have been heavier on personnel that could make up the second team. New forward Tomi Ameobi got the start as the lone striker, and Spencer Richey got the nod in goal. Much like the Indy game, Koch had the starting squad play the first 60 minutes, while the second squad finished the final 30.

FCC possessed the ball for most of the game, developing the attack along the sides through Daniel Haber and Russell Cicerone. In the 11th minute, Haber cut along the goal line and looped a cross back to Ameobi, who sent a header past the NKU goalkeeper for a 1-0 lead. The midfielders did well to pressure the defense and force NKU to deflect shots out for corner kicks. Haber’s corner piece in the 34th minute settled easily for defender Dekel Keinan, who headed home his first goal for FCC to make it 2-0.

By halftime, FCC had plenty of chances that just weren’t going in. Nazmi Albadawi was stifled in the 36th minute from a sprawling save by the NKU keeper, while Garrett Halfhill was denied a goal right before halftime when a close-up screamer clanged off the top of the frame (and likely went in if VAR was in place).

The second half began with Danni König coming on for Ameobi, but after fifteen minutes, the entire team was subbed off for a new squad. With the fresher legs, FCC started to produce crisper passes and deep crosses, particularly from Lance Laing and Manu Ledesma, that were often denied by offside calls. FCC finally broke the second-half drought in the 72nd minute, as Forrest Lasso cleaned up a corner kick from Kenney Walker to bring the score to the final 3-0 count.

Key Events

12’ Goal – Tomi Ameobi, assisted by Daniel Haber (FCC)
35’ Goal – Dekel Keinan, assisted by Daniel Haber (FCC)
73’ Goal – Forrest Lasso, assisted by Kenney Walker (FCC)

Photos via JES Photography

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Match Notes

Just about the entire team took the field at some point in the game. Goalkeeper Mark Village was held out of the game, indicating that perhaps Spencer Richey and Evan Newton are the two names that could get the brunt of the work between the pipes. Defenseman (and birthday boy) Josu saw some playing time after sitting out the entire preseason to this point, the Spaniard finally back after recovering from off-season knee surgery. He played seven minutes after coming on for Laing near the end of the game.

This game was also somewhat of a reunion between Cicerone and NKU head coach Stu Riddle. Riddle was Cicerone’s head coach back when both were at the University of Buffalo from 2013 to 2016.

First 60 Minutes:
Ameobi (König – 45’)
Haber – Albadawi – Cicerone
Ryan – Halfhill
Smith – De Wit – Keinan – Bahner
Richey (GK)

Second 30 Minutes:
Welshman
McLaughlin – Bone – Ledesma
Walker – Seymore
Laing (Josu – 83’) – Lasso – Barrett – Hoyte
Newton (GK)

Next Up

FC Cincinnati finally…FINALLY…returns to the confines of the University of Cincinnati, but their next game will not yet be at Nippert Stadium. Instead, the Orange & Blue will play USL debutantes Nashville SC at Gettler Stadium on Saturday, March 3rd at 4PM. Tickets are still available for the tilt and can be purchased at the FC Cincinnati webpage.

Northern Kentucky will also get another game against a USL opponent on Saturday, as they will host defending USL champs Louisville City FC for a 1PM friendly. Just saying…

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

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