Players I’m Going to Miss – Harrison Delbridge

With his return to his homeland still fresh, let’s take a look back at the two solid years FCC’s gotten from Harrison Delbridge.

RD4_9271-2

With the preseason opener just days away, Orange & Blue Press is following the turnover in personnel by covering players who have left the squad for greener pastures. While Mitch Hildebrandt is the only player who left for the MLS, one more player from 2017 has found work in a top tier…

Harrison Delbridge.

It’s easy to forget that some of the more important players from the inaugural 2016 FC Cincinnati season were not amongst the first eleven who were signed. Solid soon-to-be offensive mainstays like Omar Cummings and Jimmy McLaughlin were signed weeks after the first squad, while USL MVP Sean Okoli arrived only days before the preseason began. One of those later signings proved to be one of the biggest assets to the defensive line. He created a solid base that made FCC a difficult team to score on.

Is it any wonder that “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi Oi Oi!” became one of our favorite calls from the Bailey when Harrison Delbridge reversed the flow of the game?

Sixteen months removed from winning a USL title with Sacramento, Delbridge was signed in 2016 as a defenseman with plenty of height and a building resume. Having played a little over half the season at Portland Timbers 2 in 2015, Delbo became an instant name for FC Cincinnati in his third season. He gave FCC two extraordinary seasons as a keystone to the back line, as a workhorse who provided boatloads of minutes, and as a player who could switch the field quickly.

Photos courtesy Ryan MeyerJoe Schmuck, and Joe Craven

Delbridge grabbed end-of-the-year accolades as a member of the All-League First Team in both 2016 and 2017 for FCC. The 6’4” Sydney native was an ironman on the pitch—of all non-goalkeeper players, Delbo ranked in the Top 10 for minutes played and only missed 4 of 64 games over the past two seasons. Delbridge scored four goals and three assists in his FCC career. But he was known much more for his sweeping slide tackles and ability to reverse course, leading the USL in 2017 with 120 interceptions.

Favorite Moments

All of the goals from Delbridge were fun to watch. His lone goal in 2016 was a perfect receiving cross from McLaughlin to knot the score against FC Montreal. It turned the tide for a comeback win and provided a celebratory pose that graced the season-ticket booklets in 2017.

While most of his moves were aerial or sliding along the ground, Delbo’s dribbles up the pitch were often understated, as he tended to be more of a weaver than a straight bomber. However, his goal against New York Red Bulls II in 2017 was straight champagne and caviar.

Which defensive play stands out from Delbo? How about this masterful clearance off the line against Ottawa?

However, the first indelible moment that made Delbridge a fan favorite may have been from back in May 2016. Going up for an aerial challenge in a close game versus Harrisburg, Delbo caught a solid elbow just under the right eye that split him open like an overripe tomato.

Delbo 2016 HAR
Credit: USL

After getting patched up, Delbo stuck it out for the rest of the ninety minutes, laying the first brick in an impressive career as FCC’s wall.

The Bad News (and the Good News)

After the final whistle of 2017, a lot of fans felt we had seen the last of Delbridge at FC Cincinnati. After gaining first-team honors for two straight years, MLS had to have noticed the Aussie’s heart and head, right? There was no way that a first-tier team would ignore all the minutes he had compiled.

But while MLS dawdled on making the call, a team from Harrison’s home country picked up the phone. Melbourne City FC from the Australian A-League swooped in to seal the deal, signing Delbridge to a three-year contract. It may be odd seeing Delbo in an Etihad Airways jersey, but it’s great to see him get his shot at a first-division team. Perhaps there’s room in Australia’s World Cup squad?

Who Can Replace Him?

So how do you replace someone who was such an anchor in the FC Cincinnati D-line?
There’s a good guess that Austin Berry’s captaincy will be replaced with Dekel Keinan’s deep experience in the Israeli Premier League, so it makes sense to fill the space next to him with a tall, physical presence who has a knack for clutch goals.

Forrest Lasso seems to be that natural replacement for Delbridge. Lasso’s age and height are comparable to Delbridge’s. While he may not have put in as much time as Delbo, Lasso put six USL and two USOC goals in the net in 2017, contributing quite a bit to Charleston’s +20 goal differential (5th in the USL). His performances in 2017 also put him on the USL All-League First Team with Delbridge. Lasso’s online presence and apparent desire to constantly improve himself should make him a quick fan favorite, but his nine yellow cards in 2017 could be a demerit.

If Koch wishes to give Lasso a rest, he could easily insert Paddy Barrett for defensive stability or Sem De Wit for familiarity with Koch’s system, but this should be Lasso’s position for the 2018 season. If he’s able to give us performances like the ladder he climbed in the 2015 playoffs (or the two goals he scored on FC Cincinnati last year), he should be a perfect fit.

Good On Ya, Harry!

When trivia questions are ultimately written about the Orange and Blue in a future Cincinnati version of Trivial Pursuit, people should store this choice piece of information in their brains—the first-ever game-winning goal for FC Cincinnati was scored by Delbridge in the 2016 preseason against NYCFC. Sure, it doesn’t count in the standings, but it speaks volumes about the type of player Harrison was for FCC.

We’re going to miss Delbo’s unselfish play, his counterattacking ability, and perhaps that slotted PK against Chicago. Heart is something that is difficult to quantify, but as far as we can tell, Harry’s got loads of it.

Take it easy, mate, and good luck in the A-League!

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

IMG_0186

FC Cincinnati 4 – 2 New York Red Bulls II: Four Numbers that Mattered

Photo courtesy Joe Craven

FC Cincinnati bolstered their playoff hopes with a critical 4-2 victory over New York Red Bulls II on Saturday in front of a USL record crowd. The fireworks started early in a six-goal thriller that featured end-to-end action throughout the 90 minutes.

The two teams traded goals in the opening minutes of the match, each goal the result of a corner kick. FC Cincinnati jumped out-front courtesy of a glancing near-post header by Austin Berry. But New York wasted no time in leveling the scoreline. Florian Valot eluded the Cincinnati defense on a corner kick and found himself alone at the top of the box. He settled the incoming corner and turned to strike the ball through traffic, beating Mitch Hildebrandt.

The Orange and Blue regained the lead in the 32nd minute of play. New York cleared a free kick high out of the penalty area. New father and birthday boy Corben Bone pounced on the free ball and produced a thunderous strike from 20 yards that found the net. That goal gave the home side a 2-1 advantage going into the halftime break in an exciting game that promised more goals.

The second half began with the Baby Bulls bossing possession and applying tremendous pressure to FC Cincinnati’s goal. Alan Koch’s defense bent but didn’t break, and Mitch Hildebrandt added his customary heroics with key saves in the 57th and 65th minutes.

Then Harrison Delbridge scored one of this team’s goals of the season to give the Orange and Blue a two-goal cushion. He crept forward into New York’s half and received a square ball from Kenney Walker. He stepped around an approaching defender and put his foot through the ball from 25 yards. The ball screamed off his boot and catapulted into the top right corner.

Not to be outdone, Kenney Walker added an insurance goal five minutes later with a stunning free kick. The ball was placed just outside the 18-yard box on the right. He cut his strike just over the wall and across goal into the opposite side-netting.

Red Bulls II continued to apply pressure and got a goal back in the 80th minute. But three goals were too much to overcome, and the Orange and Blue prevailed in their 2017 home finale.

It was FC Cincinnati’s first-ever victory over Red Bulls II, after losing to them three consecutive times over the past two seasons. The victory sees Alan Koch’s side move into 6th place on 39 points, leapfrogging NYRBII in the Eastern Conference standings.

It’s important to note that defender Austin Berry left the match after the first half of play with an undisclosed injury.

Four Numbers That Mattered

210 – The difference in the number of passes between New York Red Bulls II and FC Cincinnati. New York dominated possession with 210 more passes than FCC and created a LOT of scoring opportunities. Despite this advantage, FCC created quality opportunities of their own via the counter-attack and from set pieces. They also played “good-enough” defense that allowed them to hang on to the victory.

6 – The jersey number of Kenney Walker who had a bumper night in midfield for FC Cincinnati. Walker grabbed a goal and two assists on the night, adding considerable end-product to his traditional domination of passing, chance creation, and tackling statistics.

67 – The minute of the game when Harrison Delbridge scored his long-range rocket of a peach of a delicious wonder goal. That goal was a special moment in and of itself, however, it came at a critical point in the match when NYRBII was pounding on Mitch Hildebrandt’s door. The goal provided a cushion and was a platform for FC Cincinnati to build on to capture the victory.

30,417 – Saturday’s USL record crowd, for a regular season game or a playoff match. FC Cincinnati eclipsed their own record attendance set on October 2nd of last year when 30,187 attended their playoff loss to Charleston. We might talk a bit too much about attendance in Cincinnati, but if we keep putting up numbers like that, it’s not going to stop anytime soon.

Four Road Games to Close the USL Regular Season

FC Cincinnati now turns their attention to a four-game road trip that will determine their fate for the 2017 season. They have collected only 9 points in 12 away games this season for a 0.75 points per game average. They’ll likely need to improve on that form if they want to secure their spot in the postseason. The good news is that three of the four teams they will face are in the bottom five of USL’s Eastern Conference.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s push for the playoffs.

Cheat Sheet: FC Cincinnati vs Rochester Rhinos

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

RD4_9204
Photo for header and information graphic courtesy of Ryan Meyer Photography

FC Cincinnati hosts the Rochester Rhinos in USL league play at Nippert Stadium on Saturday July 29th. Alan Koch’s side comes into the match on a high note following Monday’s international friendly against Valencia CF. That occasion provided a memorable night out for both the fans and the players, despite the losing result.

These two teams last met in early June, and a heavily rotated Cincinnati lineup fell to the Rhinos by a 1-0 scoreline at Capelli Sport Stadium. Rochester has been a bogey team for FC Cincinnati. The Orange and Blue have never beaten Rochester and are 0-2-1 all-time in this series.

Bob Lilley’s Rhinos currently sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference on 29 points. FC Cincinnati slots in one place above them in fifth. FCC has earned one more point than their opponent, but has played two more matches.

Rochester hasn’t been beaten in their last five outings. They’ve won two and drawn three over that stretch. They just played a match on Wednesday, July 26th, and earned a 2-0 victory over Toronto FC II. FC Cincinnati should therefore have a slight advantage in terms of rest entering this contest.

Keep an eye on the health of FC Cincinnati’s defense. Tyler Polak is still recovering from a foot sprain he suffered against Louisville City. Also, Justin Hoyte and Josu Currais were held out of the Valencia friendly as they both recovered from minor injuries.

Rochester-MatchUp-5

Here are four fast facts to set the stage for this Eastern Conference showdown.

  • FC Cincinnati is the only team in the USL’s Eastern Conference to have won their last three league matches.
  • Rochester has secured nine clean sheets during the 2017 season thus far. That’s second best in the USL. However, they’ve only kept a single clean sheet away from home.
  • Jamaican playmaker Kenardo Forbes is Rochester’s creative spark in midfield. He leads the team in passes (973), passing accuracy (85.6%) for players with over 100 passes, shots (32), and assists (4). He’s also scored two goals during the Rhinos’ 2017 campaign.
  • Harrison Delbridge continues to rack up the defensive stats for FC Cincinnati, despite missing three league matches. He leads the team in clearances (75), interceptions (65), duals won (114), and aerial duels won (62). He also has two league goals this season.

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

RD4_9204

FC Cincinnati 3 – 0 Harrisburg City Islanders: Four Numbers That Mattered

FC Cincinnati returned to muggy Nippert Stadium and survived lengthy lightning delays for a solid 3-0 win over Harrisburg.

IMG_0110
Photo Courtesy JES Photography / Joe Schmuck

With the Queen City baking from the July heat, FC Cincinnati was tested by a spark plug Harrisburg team that had managed a solid run at home and had snuck into the playoff discussion. After two lengthy lightning delays that saw almost no rainfall, the boys in Orange and Blue sank the City Islanders with a 3-0 victory in front of 18,334 at Nippert Stadium.

While Harrisburg was coming into the game with the shorter week—having tied red-hot Charlotte 1-1 earlier in the week—the first 25 minutes were dictated by the away squad. The FCC defensive line was forced onto their heels with an early attempt in the 7th minute from a trailing John Grosh, only for Mitch Hildebrandt to smother it.

Lightning played a major part in this game, as both teams had to endure two lengthy breaks from threatening weather. After the first 67-minute break, FCC proved to be ready and refreshed. In the 32nd minute, Djiby pounced on a poor back-pass by the Harrisburg defense, switching feet on his defender and burying a left-footed shot for his 11th goal of the season.

In the second half, Cincinnati took advantage of Harrisburg’s offensive push to sneak behind the enemy lines again. After absorbing a midfield pass in the 70th minute, Djiby caught the D-line’s attention and fed a streaking Danni König, who fired a 5-hole under goalkeeper Brandon Miller’s legs for his 6th goal of the year.

After a second, shorter 35-minute lightning warning, FCC again capitalized from the break. In the 85th minute, Jimmy McLaughlin grabbed a feed from Kenney Walker to weave past his defender and peg his 2nd goal of the season, a right-footed strike past Miller, to completely shut the door on the City Islanders.

FC Cincinnati lifts their record to 8-6-6 and to 5th in the Eastern Conference table, while Harrisburg falls to 9th (6-5-9). After FCC welcomes Valencia CF, one of the cornerstones to the Spanish La Liga soccer league, to Nippert for a friendly on Monday, they will host the Rochester Rhinos for league play on Saturday.

Four Numbers That Mattered

102 minutes – The total amount of time taken up by the two lightning breaks. Normally, 90-degree temperatures with heat indexes in the triple digits would incur hydration breaks and pauses for cramping, but if anything, FC Cincinnati got progressively better from the weather delays. Two of the 3 FCC goals came within 5 minutes of the restarts, indicating that whatever took place in the locker rooms did its job for Alan Koch’s men. Could we have some of these breaks more often, Mother Nature?

+9 – While Harrisburg held a possession advantage (46/54), Cincinnati held the advantage in intercepted takeaways (18-9). Case in point—the heatmap below shows that Harrisburg preferred attacking on their right side, with forward Ropapa Mensah and midfielder Jake Bond controlling most of the possession.

FCC HAR Heat 072217
Heat Map via USL Match Center

However, compare that map with the map that displays interceptions. Whenever Mensah or Bond challenged the right, Cincinnati took possession back. Harrison Delbridge alone had 9 interceptions to reverse the flow of play.

FCC HAR Inter 072217
Graphic via USL Match Center

While possession may be a key to winning, FCC has shown that the ability to disrupt possession is just as important.

30’ – The time for the final shot on target for Harrisburg. Afterwards, Cincinnati dominated the shots-on-target stat, hammering 8 at goalkeeper Brandon Miller over the final 60’ of the game and getting 3 by him. Overall, FCC led Harrisburg in shots 15-11, taking advantage of Harrisburg’s defense-heavy 4-1-4-1 formation.

+11 – The goal differential for FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium in 11 USL home games (6W-4D-1L). So far, the stout defensive line has only conceded 8 goals at home all year and has not allowed a goal in the past 4 games (including the US Open Cup win vs. Chicago). The offense has picked up lately, but 19 goals at home means that the team has only scored 7 goals on the road over 8 games. If FCC wishes to hold and prove home dominance in the postseason, they’re going to have to show they can also score more on the road.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more news, analysis, and color commentary on FC Cincinnati.

IMG_0110

Louisville City FC 2 – 3 FC Cincinnati: Four Numbers That Mattered

Four numbers that mattered in FC Cincinnati’s remarkable derby day victory over rival Louisville City FC on Saturday July 15th.

IMG_5654-4
Photo Courtesy JES Photography / Joe Schmuck

FC Cincinnati defeated rival Louisville City FC by a 3-2 scoreline at Slugger Field in Kentucky on Saturday. The teams traded early goals in the first half of play. Referee Marcos de Oliveira awarded a penalty kick to Louisville City shortly after the opening whistle for a handball infringement by Harrison Delbridge. Louisville’s Ilija Ilić converted the penalty kick to give the home side an early advantage.

The Orange and Blue responded immediately via their talismanic striker. Djiby equalized when Louisville City keeper Greg Ranjitsingh spilled a right-sided cross from Jimmy McLaughlin. The loose ball fell to the Senegalese forward. He lobbed it into the bottom right corner of goal and the score was quickly leveled at 1-1.

Standout defender Tyler Polak left the game with an ankle injury in the 30th minute after a card-worthy tackle from behind by Louisville’s Kyle Smith. Josu picked up right where Polak left off though and immediately impacted the game. Possession was roughly equal at the end of the first half, but Louisville City boasted an 8-2 shot advantage that included several quality chances to score.

The Orange and Blue took the lead 10 minutes after the break. Harrison Delbridge thumped a near posted header in from close range from a corner kick delivered by Josu Currais.

Substitute Danni König gave FC Cincinnati an insurance goal they needed in the 77th minute, just seconds after entering the match. Josu played a gorgeous cross-field ball to Andrew Wiedeman. He corralled the pass and quickly shot on target from a tight angle. Ranjitsingh stopped the initial shot but the rebound fell to König, who easily slotted it home.

Louisville City got one back in stoppage time but it was too late to mount a credible comeback. The goal was awarded as an own goal against Andrew Wiedeman.

The derby triumph was FC Cincinnati’s first ever win on Kentucky soil, and only their second away victory of the 2017 season. The win maintains FC Cincinnati’s sixth place position in the table, but the extra points bring them within one point of fourth place. The coveted top four spots in the Conference are guaranteed at least one home playoff game at seasons’ end. Charleston still leads the East with 35 points.

Four Numbers That Mattered

8 – The number of minutes between the first Louisville City goal and FC Cincinnati’s equalizer. All the momentum swung in Louisville City’s direction early in the match after Ilić’s penalty kick conversion. FC Cincinnati wasn’t creating chances and didn’t have a shot on goal at that point. They got some luck when Louisville keeper Ranjitsingh spilled McLaughlin’s cross. One should not underestimate the efficiency of body movement and awareness required for Djiby to quickly turn and slot that ball into goal first time. The immediate response by FC Cincinnati was vital to the game’s outcome. That’s ten USL goals for Djiby and 13 in all competitions.

99 – The jersey number of wingback Josu Currais, who delivered a man of the match performance. Tyler Polak’s first-half injury was concerning indeed, and we’ll need him to recover quickly given the jam-packed schedule ahead. However, Josu replaced Polak and delivered an inspired performance. He cleared Brian Ownby’s 33rd minute shot off the line in dramatic fashion. He provided the delivery on the corner kick for Harrison Delbridge’s 55th minute goal AND provided a key cross field pass to create Wiedeman’s shot on the third goal. His defensive work also helped to shut down Louisville City’s right handed attack in the second half.

83 – The percentage of FC Cincinnati’s shots that were on target. Louisville City’s defense limited FCC’s attack to only six total shots in this match, but five of the six were on target. In recent away matches, FC Cincinnati has produced shots, but many of them have been speculative efforts from distance. What’s more important than the number of shots is the quality of chances a team creates. Those six chances were of high quality and they converted three of them against a very good Louisville City defense.

105 – The number of days since FC Cincinnati’s last victory away from home. The Orange and Blue’s road form has been dire in 2017. Before this match, they had a 1-5-2 record away from Nippert and hadn’t won a road match since April 1st. A three goal derby win is just what they needed to cure their traveling ailments, and put them in a great position with 13 USL league games remaining.

How about that traveling support? I don’t have an accurate number of how many made the trip but it was a big number and they made their presence felt. Big kudos to all who made it down to Louisville to support the Orange and Blue for a historic derby victory.

FC Cincinnati will benefit from a week of rest before a home game against the Harrisburg City Islanders on July 22nd. That game will be quickly followed by a Monday night international friendly against Valencia CF of Spain’s La Liga. Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more news, analysis, and color commentary on FC Cincinnati.

IMG_5654-4

Cheat Sheet: FC Cincinnati vs Richmond Kickers

An information graphic provides the vital details for Sunday’s match between FC Cincinnati and the Richmond Kickers. Plus, four fast facts.

Richmond-Header
Photo courtesy of Ryan Meyer Photography

FC Cincinnati returns from their Florida road trip for a showdown with the Richmond Kickers at Nippert Stadium on Sunday. The Orange and Blue will be looking for maximum points after losing 2-0 to the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Thursday.

These two teams last met for a 1-1 stalemate in early May in Virginia. Jimmy McLaughlin rescued a draw after Richmond went up a goal in the first half.

Simply put, Richmond is struggling this season. They sit second from bottom in the Eastern Conference and have only two wins this season. They haven’t won any matches since they played FC Cincinnati over two months ago.

Richmond-MatchUp.jpg

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

  • FC Cincinnati and Richmond have met three times in 2016 and 2017 and each match has ended in a 1-1 draw.
  • With ten goals this season, Richmond has scored the second fewest goals in the 30 team USL. Only Toronto FC II has fewer with nine. FC Cincinnati’s defense should be eyeing a clean sheet in this match.
  • Harrison Delbridge is injured with an ab strain and his outlook for return is day-to-day. He leads the team in duels won* with 103, which is 29 more duels won than any other FCC player. FC Cincinnati lost both matches that Delbridge missed this season (away to Rochester and Tampa).
  • The Kickers leading goalscorer, Alhaji Kamara, was owned by D.C. United and sold in late June to Al-Taawoun FC of the Saudi Professional League. Kamara had four goals in nine appearances for Richmond.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue press for more coverage of Sunday’s must-win match.

*Duels – A duel is an 50-50 contest between two players of opposing sides in the match. For every Duel Won there is a corresponding Duel Lost depending on the outcome of the Duel. More on Opta Stats

Richmond-Header

Tampa Bay Rowdies 2 – 0 FC Cincinnati: Four Numbers That Mattered

FC Cincinnati’s Florida road trip ended in disappointment as they dropped three points to the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium.

Untitled-1
Photo Credit: Matt May/Tampa Bay Rowdies

FC Cincinnati wound-up their two-game Florida road trip with a disheartening 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Forced to absorb two first half goals and a two hour rain delay right before halftime, the Boys in Blue & Orange were unable to mount a comeback in the second half before the 6,269 in attendance at Al Lang Stadium.

Having to play five games over a two-week period, Coach Koch opted to rest some of the defensive starters. Matt Bahner and Tyler Polak started on the bench and Harrison Delbridge was rested due to a late-game injury versus Orlando City B last Saturday.

The defensive approach without Delbridge appeared to rattle the back line in the first half, as the Rowdies’ midfielder Alex Morrell twice split through the defense. The first resulted in a Martin Paterson goal in the 39th minute, as Morrell skirted the right side of the goal and fired a short cross that was quickly hammered past Hildebrandt. The second goal came five minutes after. A shot from the streaking Morrell was saved, only for Joe Cole to vacuum up the rebound and tap it home.

Shortly after the second goal, the heavens opened for 120 minutes of rain. FCC appeared to get back on track with Djiby and McLaughlin subbing in for the second half. FC Cincy managed to outshoot Tampa Bay 9-4 in the final 45 minutes, but nothing got by goalie Matt Pickens, sending FCC to their sixth loss of the season. The team will have to turn their performance around with short rest—they face the Richmond Kickers back in Nippert Stadium this Sunday before another set of away games at Miami FC and Lou City next week.

Four Numbers That Mattered

5 – The number of points FC Cincinnati has managed over eight away games (1W-2D-5L), compared to the 16 points from 9 home games (4W-4D-1L). Around the same point last year, FCC had a 20-11 home/away point distribution. If Coach Koch’s team has any plans to be partying in the playoffs, they’re going to have to play better in away games—the team has already lost more times on the road this year than all last year (7W-4D-4L). 

-3 – The goal differential without Harrison Delbridge on the pitch this year. While he’s only been held out for two games this year, Delbo’s absence was notable on the pitch for this one. Morrell and the Rowdies’ offense were able to freely penetrate the defense in the first half with the Aussie deactivated for the game, taking advantage of lapses in communication in the penalty area. 

+6 – The advantage Tampa Bay held in shots on target (11-5). While both teams fired the same number shots (13), the Rowdies were more accurate and shot from shorter distances than Cincy—9 of the Rowdies’ 13 shots were inside the box, while Alan Koch’s side took more chances from distance (7 of 13).

7 – The number of games FC Cincinnati will play in July over all competitions. While the success in the U.S. Open Cup has been a major headline, the wear and tear of a month with little rest will challenge FCC during the dog days of summer. Throw in the friendly against Valencia on July 24th, and stamina could become a major issue as Cincinnati tries to recover lost points.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more news, analysis, and color commentary on FC Cincinnati.

Untitled-1

Cheat Sheet: FC Cincinnati vs Saint Louis FC

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

Saint-Louis-Cheat-Sheet-Header
Image for header and info graphic courtesy of Ryan Meyer Photography

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

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

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

Saint-Louis-FC-MatchUp_v3

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

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

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

Saint-Louis-Cheat-Sheet-Header

FC Cincinnati 1 – Tampa Bay Rowdies 1: Dacres Sees Red in Comeback Draw

A controversial red card could have spoiled FC Cincinnati’s night, but they held on to split the points with the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Nippert.

Jimmy-Tampa
Photo courtesy of Ryan Meyer Photography

A 10 man FC Cincinnati earned a 1-1 draw against a physical Tampa Bay Rowdies side at Nippert Stadium on Wednesday evening. The match was played in front of 15,227 fans on a beautiful spring night in Cincinnati. After an astonishing seventh minute thunderbolt from Tampa Bay midfielder Marcel Schäfer, FC Cincinnati equalized from a corner kick. Kenney Walker provided the service and Harrison Delbridge out-jumped his marker to head-home his first goal of the season. The opening half ended level at 1-1.

Match Photos: FC Cincinnati 1 – Tampa Bay Rowdies 1

An evenly played second half featured equal possession and a smattering of chances for either team prior to the 75th minute. It was then that Kadeem Dacres was sent-off in questionable fashion when his high boot caught Tampa Bay forward Deshorn Brown in the abdomen. The foul appeared clumsy as Kadeem tried to reclaim the bouncing ball, but the referee judged it dangerous and ejection-worthy. FC Cincinnati shut-up shop for the final 15 minutes plus stoppage time and came out with a hard-fought 1-1 draw.

For play-by-play details of the match’s events, see the match recap on Last Word on Soccer below.

Faceoff-Tampa-Header
MLS Expansion Rivals Share Spoils in Cincinnati

FC Cincinnati rises to 5th place in the Eastern Conference after the draw. There’s no rest for the weary though. Alan Koch’s side has two days to recover before they host Louisville City FC at Nippert on Saturday in the first leg of the Dirty River Derby.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of the final chapter of FC Cincinnati’s opening week of 2017.

Jimmy-Tampa

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

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

Temguia-Header
Photo courtesy of Montréal Impact

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

FC Cincinnati Official Press Release

Four Questions with Tristan D’Amours

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

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

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

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

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

Is there anything else about Mélé that people should know?

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

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

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

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

Orange and Blue Press Reaction

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

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

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

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

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

Temguia-Header.jpg
Photo courtesy of Montréal Impact