FC Cincinnati vs FC Montréal – Match Notes

Color commentary on FC Cincinnati’s 2-1 victory over FC Montréal on Saturday June 11th.

Notes

Turf Heat – Apparently, field turf can get hot…really hot. A Las Vegas study determined that artificial grass temperatures in the state of Nevada can reach up to 180 degrees in the summer months! While this clearly isn’t the Nevada desert, and quality artificial surfaces for sports come equipped with cooling mechanisms, the turf temperatures at Nippert are going to be a challenge this summer. There were reports that the field temperature at kickoff was 110 degrees while the air temperature was 89 degrees. This isn’t a new problem. Artificial turf has always come with this drawback. It is safe to play on, but all the more reason to support the hydration breaks we saw as part of Saturday’s contest.

First Half – The first half against FC Montréal was one of the best halves of football that we have seen FC Cincinnati play at Nippert. FCC was dominant in all phases of the game and then took the lead through Okoli’s 35th minute penalty kick. They were expected to dominate this FC Montréal team given their experience advantage, their form coming into the match, and the fact that the contest was played at Nippert. They did. Give credit where it’s due, the boys in Orange and Blue were good.

Second Half – The second half started well with Okoli’s volley but we witnessed another nervy finish and another late goal. When I watched it back on Youtube, it wasn’t as nervy as it seemed live. I think the crowd was still feeling the collective anxiety from last week’s Richmond draw. FCC had the insurance goal and they managed the game to its conclusion, claiming all 3 points. Was it perfect? No. Was it better than last week? Oui.

Interesting Stat – There wasn’t too much to get excited about in this week’s box score, but the match did offer a total of 26 fouls between the two teams. This is a season high for a game when FC Cincinnati has been a participant. Surprisingly, the match really didn’t seem that chippy. FCC also tied their season high for fouls committed at 13. The only card that was issued was Kenney Walker’s yellow.

Goalkeeping Coach Gone Wild? – FC Montréal’s keepers coach was sent off by referee Rosendo Mendoza just after the Canadian side scored their 90th minute goal. Maybe he took offense to something that was said? I’m guessing it was something like what’s contained in this catalogue of things not to say to French Canadians. If anyone knows why he was actually sent off, please comment below. I’ve scoured the internet and exhausted my short list of contacts. I’ve come up empty.

Stand Outs

Sean Okoli – This is obvious so I won’t belabor the point. After a quiet first 25 minutes, Okoli came to life and was the difference maker. Terrific finishing on both the PK and the volley.

Eric Stevenson – Stevenson earned his second start of the season against FC Montréal and took advantage of it. He possessed and distributed the ball well in the attacking midfield role, initiating a number of offensive moves. He served a sublime cross for Okoli’s second after dispossessing Montréal in midfield to start the move. It’s hard to see him not starting again next week given this performance. I’m not sure the positional change suits Corben Bone who is now being asked to play deeper. It will be interesting to see if the coaching staff tries any other midfield combinations.

Okoli-Stevenson-2
Ugo Okoli and Eric Stevenson turned in noteworthy performances against FC Montréal

Andrew Wiedeman – Wiedeman was fantastic in this match. He was lively and threatening on the right, combining to good effect with McMahon and Stevenson, especially in the first half. He played the long ball to Okoli in transition that resulted in the penalty foul. He had a fantastic work rate, tracking back to help out the defense on FCC’s right on several occasions. He also had a couple of good looks at goal and was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.

Tyler Polak – Polak was solid at left back shutting down a number of FC Montréal moves, turning possession over in the Orange and Blue’s favor. He served 2 delicious crosses in the first half (45′ and stoppage) that easily could have resulted in goals. His corner kicks and free kicks were on point all night. Polak has taken criticism this season for some of FCC’s defensive growing pains. I think he needs to get some credit for this shift.

Results away from Nippert were good as well. LCFC drew and Charleston, Rochester and Charlotte all lost. FCC’s only close competitor that won was second place New York Red Bulls II. The Orange and Blue remain in third place 4 points behind leaders Louisville with a game in hand. See the full USL standings here.

Check back with Orange and Blue Press later this week as we lead up to Canada Part Deux, Toronto FC II, on Saturday the 18th.

FC Cincinnati 2 – FC Montréal 1

FC Cincinnati defeated FC Montréal 2-1 in front of a crowd of 14,267 at Nippert stadium Saturday evening.

Match Recaps:
FC Cincinnati Official: https://t.co/1ul3CJDT5U
Cincinnati Soccer Talk: https://t.co/uO7QCewplL
Enquirer: https://t.co/VP6AVyZfaE
FC Montréal: https://t.co/A67c2aWPWR

Check back with Orange and Blue press this week for match notes, color commentary and statistics.

Also be sure to follow us on Twitter @orangebluepress and like our Facebook page for regular updates.

FC Cincinnati vs Richmond – Match Notes

In the wake of a disappointing 1-1 draw with the Richmond Kickers, O&B Press offers a few match notes to put things in perspective.

Richmond Match Notes

I was too annoyed immediately following the Richmond match to write something about it. Now that we’ve had a few days to let Saturday’s result sink in, here are a few thoughts before we close the door on that contest.

Unless you’re living under a rock by the Little Miami, you know that FCC drew with the Richmond Kicker’s 1-1 on Saturday in front of a crowd of 11,278 at Nippert Stadium. Richmond scored a stoppage time equalizer just when it looked like the Orange and Blue had the game won.

Saturday’s match can plainly be referred to as a crap draw. Although that result comes with an especially bitter taste due to the last-minute manner in which it went from a win to a draw, resist the temptation to overanalyze it or suggest drastic changes based on the result.

The team played fairly well for 80 minutes and created enough chances to win the match. FCC got some luck on their first goal and unfortunately didn’t take the chances that followed, leaving themselves open to a late equalizer.

In the last 10 minutes, Harkes’ men could not retain possession, likely feeling fatigued after playing midweek and traveling. Even then, they only really offered Richmond one or two bona fide second half chances leading up to the 90th minute. The three minutes of stoppage time that followed were ugly, and the Orange and Blue conceded multiple chances and the equalizer. It was a crappy way to end the game, but I don’t think major changes are needed in its wake. Without clinical finishing, these kind of results happen. As a wise man said to me pitch-side after the match, “that’s football, ya know”. We move on. There are two very winnable home matches on the horizon, offering a good opportunity to atone for the Richmond disappointment.

Congrats are in order to Cincinnati for assembling a quality crowd in bad weather against smaller market opposition. Is this where FCC’s attendance bottoms out? Let us know what you think in the comments section or on social media. If the team can pull 11K at worst and build from there for enticing match-ups, attendance numbers will look very good by season’s end.

Attendance

FC Cincinnati – Speaking in Numbers

As FC Cincinnati prepares for two home matches, O&B Press crunches a few numbers and makes pretty pictures to help explain their performance to date at Nippert.

In this segment, I sift through a little data from FC Cincinnati’s box scores and turn that data into (allegedly) more usable information. I play with data as a profession, so why not put a little of that knowledge to good use here rather than using it to make money for big companies?

The goal is to draw some interesting or meaningful insights, but one has to start with some simple metrics first as a baseline. So, let’s take a look at a few offensive metrics and see what they tell us about FC Cincinnati’s season to date. Because FCC is playing their next 2 matches at home against the Canadian tandem of FC Montréal and Toronto FC II, we’ll focus on home stats only.

Where is the offense coming from at Nippert?

WDO-HOME

The six players listed above have had the biggest statistical offensive impact in home matches. As one would expect, the front three of FCC’s formation, McLaughlin, Okoli and Wiedeman, weigh heavily in these offensive categories. Sean Okoli leads the way with 3 goals and 2 assists at home. Corben Bone has 2 home assists and Pat McMahon has gotten forward to good effect in this subset of games.

Can we all agree that Pat McMahon is FC Cincinnati’s version of Silicon Valley’s Bertram Gilfoyle, especially given his expression and manbun-free look on the FC Cincinnati player roster? Gilfoyle’s my favorite character in this gut-busting series so that’s meant to be a compliment. If you haven’t seen it, go binge watch it. You’ll thank me later.

Austin Berry’s early season heroics against Charlotte and Louisville City are still enough to get him on the list of the most influential offensive players, but clearly just from a goals perspective. Although Nicholson has filled in well, the team would sure get a hell of a boost from having Berry back in the lineup. Let’s hope it’s not long now.

There’s one home goal not accounted for by the six players above, can you figure out who scored it? Comment below, if so.

Wieda-Richmond
Let’s break up all these numbers with a picture of men sweating and kicking a soccer ball

How does FCC’s offense compare to the opposition at home?

FCC Offensive Stats at NippertOpposition Offensive Stats at Nippert

These charts admittedly aren’t the easiest on the eye, so here is the upshot.

FC Cincinnati are 3-1-2 at home. They have scored 9 goals in 6 games for a 1.5 goals per game average compared to their opponents’ 1 goal per game. They outshoot the opposition on average by 42% and have about 8 shots on goal per game to their opponents’ 5.

FCC and their competitors produce roughly the same percentage of shots on target (about 50%) and it takes each roughly 10 total shots to produce a goal.

A few items items to note:

Louisville City’s 3 goals on 6 total shots helps to bolster the oppositions’ goals scored and shooting percentage numbers. Aside from that result, the FCC defense has been pretty stingy at home.

In the last two home matches against Harrisburg and Richmond, total shots and shots on goal have been below average. That is a trend to watch and one we hope won’t continue against upcoming Canadian opposition.

Last Saturday, Richmond had more total shots and shots on goal than FCC, largely due to their late game charge in a successful attempt to equalize. That match was the first time the Orange and Blue have been outshot at home and only the second time that phenomenon has occurred all season. The Steel marginally outshot Harkes’ men 10-9 in week 2 in Bethlehem.

Numbers can be fun, but talking about them for too long makes for a dull boy. We’ve covered some basic home stats, and will look forward to going more Moneyball on a different day.

‘Til next time.  Remember, numbers are your friend…Or are they?

“There are three types of lies — lies, damn lies, and statistics.”
Benjamin Disraeli

FC Cincinnati Kicked in the Grass

FC Cincinnati lost in Florida on Wednesday evening 1-0 to the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the third round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, eliminating them from the tournament.

You may recall that the Orange and Blue have found great success in the Sunshine State recently, winning the preseason IMG SunCoast Classic in Bradenton and defeating Orlando City B 3-1 earlier this season. Florida has been good to FC Cincinnati indeed, but that storyline changed on Wednesday night.

This match was watched with great interest by FC Cincinnati’s faithful, not just because it was a single-elimination match against a side from US soccer’s second-tier NASL, but because a winning result would create a fourth round match-up with Columbus Crew SC.

Since the action on the pitch and the subsequent result were somewhat disappointing, let’s first take a look at the amazing entertainment that FC Cincinnati’s gracious hosts, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, provided. The match was only available for viewing only via Youtube stream and that stream opened up with the Rowdies classic 1975 theme song “Kick in the Grass.”

“The Rowdies run here,
The Rowdies run there,
They kick the ball around.
The Rowdies run here,
The Rowdies run there,
Then they fall on the ground!
Oh, The Rowdies, The Rowdies,
The Rowdies aaa-are…
A kick in the grass!”

The accompanying music, a combination of Polka and the theme song to “Barney & Friends”, is pure entertainment magic (I’m still singing it today). Combine this with their supporters’ names, the “fannies” and the “loudies”, and this historical logo from the original 1975 incarnation of the club, and the result is very entertaining indeed.

In the early NASL days the franchise also had cheerleaders named the “Wowdies.” Again, amazing name. This is one of America’s classic professional soccer teams with a colorful history. Read more about it here.

Since we’re talking about colors, we’ll also note that the color combinations in this match weren’t so easy on the eye. FC Cincinnati showed up in their orange, blue and white home kit. Tampa’s home team wore hoops in their traditional yellow and green colors. While the Rowdies kits aren’t so great to look at, let’s not forget that our jersey’s are one color away from looking like a Popsicle Firecracker. I like our jerseys personally, and think we should further embrace this by selling these delicious frozen treats at the game. If management adopts this idea, I will only request a small royalty to help feed the hamsters that power this website.

OK, I’ve stalled long enough, a few thoughts on the match.

Deep Thoughts

The lone goal of the match was scored by Tampa’s Bulgarian forward Georgi Hristov after a long ball was played behind the right side of FC Cincinnati’s back line. Pat McMahon was caught high but Hristov was the center forward who had peeled off to the side so FCC’s center backs bear some responsibility for tracking him as well. Pat McMahon may have thought the left-sided Tampa players (Ramirez, Burgos, Sweat) he was responsible for were either in front of him or offside, therefore delaying his retreat.

FCC’s fullbacks have come under some criticism during the first third of the season, but defending is a collective activity requiring communication and coordination. Some of the singling out of the fullbacks on these goals is overly simplistic. The center backs and defensive midfielders must also communicate and cover when the fullbacks are asked to press forward and opposition attackers are changing position.

Pat McMahon battles with Tampa left winger Ramirez
Pat McMahon battles with Tampa left winger Ramirez. Photo courtesy Tampa Bay Rowdies / Mike Carlson

Despite the loss, FC Cincinnati had their opportunities. They had twice as many total shots (14-7) as Tampa Bay and Walker, Wiedeman, and Hoppenot all had very good chances in front of goal that they could not convert. So the Orange and Blue were not really outplayed but this was not a vintage FCC performance, and it didn’t feel like they deserved to win the game.

So no I-71 rivalry game, …no “Hell is Real” derby as it’s been labeled in honor of the fine religious signage between Cincinnati and Columbus. It will happen someday and it’s going to be fantastic, but not for a while. I know a lot of FC Cincinnati fans who also support Crew SC, and some are breathing a sigh of relief that they don’t have to decide between their two favorite teams…yet.

This weekend sees FC Cincinnati return to USL league action, where they are still unbeaten in 6, against the Richmond Kickers at Nippert Stadium. The forecast is calling for 80% chance of rain and possible evening thunderstorms with accumulations of up to 3/4 of an inch. This team can’t catch a break with the weather. I’m officially submitting a request to the supporters’ groups Die Innenstadt and the Pride to incorporate some sort of “no rain” dance into their repertoire of chants. Or do an actual rain dance backwards. Do something. Please.

For blow-by-blow details of the US Open cup match, check out the following worthy sources.

FC Cincinnati Official, DJ Switzer
Cincinnati Soccer Talk, Bryan Weigel
Cincinnati.com, Pat Brennan

Cover image/photo for this post also courtesy of courtesy Tampa Bay Rowdies / Mike Carlson. I’ve seen a lot of soccer photography since the season began and Mr. Carlson has produced some of the best images I’ve seen this year. I don’t need another picture in this article but let’s have one more anyway.

FC Cincinnati
Photo Courtesy Tampa Bay Rowdies / Mike Carlson

FC Cincinnati vs Harrisburg City – Match Notes

FC Cincinnati defeated the Harrisburg City Islanders (no relation to the similarly named Flint Tropics) 2-0 in front of a crowd of just over 16 thousand at Nippert Stadium Saturday.

FC Cincinnati defeated the Harrisburg City Islanders (no relation to the similarly named Flint Tropics) 2-0 in front of a crowd of just over 16 thousand at Nippert Stadium Saturday. The result takes the Orange and Blue to 6-2-2 on the season and lands them in 3rd place in USL’s Eastern Conference.

Stand Outs

Mitch Hildebrandt had 5 total saves and 3 crucial saves to preserve FC Cincinnati’s clean sheet. Without a stout net-minding performance from Mitch, Harrisburg could have easily netted two goals in the contest.

Andrew Wiedeman had a highlight-reel goal in the 19th minute that featured some great offensive interplay between Bone, Wiedeman and Pat McMahon in the build-up. He almost found the back of the net again in the 48th when he tried to loop the ball over Broom from close range.

Wiedeman
Andrew Wiedeman coils before unloading for his 3rd goal of the season.

Antoine Hoppenot had a stirring impact off the bench and created the second goal, which iced the game. It seemed that early in the season the coaching staff might have had a starting spot earmarked for Hoppenot. He had a hard time making his mark and therefore has only featured off the bench in the first third of the season. He still has time to make a big impact and this performance will likely help him secure more time on the field, especially with more mid-week games upcoming. Full credit to Ugo Okoli for dispatching the penalty.

Takeaways

The crowd was stellar. Some doubt crept into our collective minds before this match, and rightfully so. Harrisburg’s small market. They’re not a rival. It’s Memorial Day weekend. Will people show up? They did, in force. It was a great atmosphere. Kudos Cincinnati.

Crowd-Harrisburg
Cincinnati showed up. This is going to keep happening.

It was a little silly how much talk there was about FCC being rusty after having one weekend off. It seems the rest was welcome and the team looked sharp on Saturday. That rest should continue to pay dividends as they head into two matches over the 7 days that follow the Harrisburg clash.

Harrisburg forward Aaron Wheeler behaved like an ass over the 52 minutes he was on the field. If the cheek-busting challenge on Delbridge and subsequent red card wasn’t enough, check out this bit of nastiness that happened just before half-time. Hopefully the USL deals with his conduct to good effect.

Harrisburg surprisingly did not try to heavily exploit FC Cincinnati’s wide areas. Paul Wilson and José Barril tried to play through the middle more often than not which I think played into the strength of FC Cincinnati’s formation and the solid midfield core of Tomaselli and Walker.

Much has been made of Andrew Wiedeman’s fantastic hair, and rightly so. It’s amazing both on and off the field. I think that it has to be mentioned at this point that Ross Tomaselli is a dark horse for best hair performance of the season. He’s a little more J. Crew to Wiedeman’s GQ, but stylish nonetheless. This is something we’ll have to pay attention to as the season progresses.

Match recaps are good and if you want play-by-play details of Saturday’s happenings check out these worthy sources:

Cincinnati Soccer Talk (full disclosure, I am a contributor and am totally biased)

FC Cincinnati Official, DJ Switzer

Scratching the Pitch, Chad Hollingsworth – USL Yoda

Cincinnati.com, Pat Brennan

This segment needs a better name than Match Notes. Sorry, I was low on creativity by the time I got to the title. Drop a note if you have a better name at orange and blue press.

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