FC Cincinnati 3 – 0 Charleston Battery: FCC’s Home Fortress Holds Firm Again

FC Cincinnati faces its strongest competition to date and unleashes its fireworks in a 3-0 victory over the Charleston Battery.

Design: Connor Paquette / Image: Joe Schmuck

Despite the marquee matchup between two teams with massive undefeated streaks, the beat goes on for FC Cincinnati. The Orange & Blue rolled with two first-half strikes and a hot defense to hold on for a 3-0 victory. The win stretches FCC’s undefeated streak to 13 games. Charleston’s loss is their first since their 2-0 loss to Richmond on June 9th, breaking an 11-game undefeated stretch.

Cincinnati busted the deadlock in the 21st minute. Emmanuel Ledesma dispossessed his opponent outside the Charleston box and fired a floater over goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky that scratched the crossbar on the way. His eleventh goal of the year gives him the team lead in goals and gave the team an early 1-0 lead. Up to that point, Charleston hadn’t trailed in a game for 1,012 minutes.

The Battery had their chances to equalize before halftime. Striker Ataulla Guerra almost added to his team-leading 12 goals, firing a shot at Spencer Richey that clanged off the crossbar. Almost as if sparked by the fortunate bang off the woodwork, FC Cincinnati flipped the field to score again during stoppage time. Nazmi Albadawi’s centering pass skirted by Emery Welshman to fool the defense. Corben Bone picked up the free ball, depositing the shot past Kuzminsky. His 4th goal of the season made the game 2-0 at halftime.

While the team came out with solid possession in the second half, FCC still could not shake the pesky Battery squad. Charleston tried invading from the right of Richey and almost found paydirt in the 67th minute. Patrick Okonkwo found himself alone in front of Richey, only for Forrest Lasso to slide-tackle the attempt out for a corner kick.

FC Cincinnati iced the game with an own-goal in second-half stoppage time. Albadawi’s crossing pass to Fenando Adi didn’t quite get to the big striker, as Skylar Thomas deflected the ball into his own net. With the win all wrapped up, all that was left was the whistle and a big “six-point win” to the boys in Orange & Blue.

Final Score: FC Cincinnati 3 – 0 Charleston Battery

Standings Update

FC Cincinnati has two months and 10 games left in the regular season, but a good deal of it is on the road. The win over Charleston, coupled with 0-0 home draws by Pittsburgh and Louisville, puts FCC up by seven points over their closest competitor. Charleston’s loss keeps them in third place, but they are no longer equal with the Riverhounds on points.

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Highlight of the Match

While Bone’s first-half goal was the backbreaker, Ledesma’s beauty from outside the box got FCC on the board in fine fashion.


Quote of the Match

Coach Koch came out for the abbreviated press conference to talk about the importance of getting out of the gate with “a good first 45 minutes”:

“I said on TV at halftime that this game is very interesting, because we were very happy with how we played in the first 45 minutes. But if Guerra’s shot goes in with a couple minutes left before halftime, it’s probably 1-1. . . .You’ve got to manage those moments. Thankfully, we didn’t give them that much tonight, and we thoroughly deserve the three points.”  

Stat of the Match

While both teams went into this game with lengthy streaks, FC Cincinnati maintains theirs. The team has not trailed in the past 924 minutes. The last time FCC trailed in a game was back on June 13th, when Bethlehem held the lead for 37 minutes.

Who Started?

Koch opted to start some of the hot hands against Charleston. Paddy Barrett held the captain’s armband on the back line while Dekel Keinan rested a second-straight game, and Spencer Richey started his second-straight game in net. Fatai Alashe got his first start of the season, and Emery Welshman returned from suspension to start for Danni König.

Welshman (Adi 73′)
Ledesma – Albadawi – Bone
Alashe (Lahoud 62′) – Walker
Smith – Lasso – Barrett (c) – Hoyte

Of note: Ledesma picked up his eighth yellow card of the season, so he likely faces a one-game suspension against Atlanta United II next Wednesday.

What’s Next?

After six games at home, FC Cincinnati finally pound the pavement and play on the road. The Orange & Blue travel to the southeast for a Wednesday tussle against Atlanta United II and a Saturday tilt against Tampa Bay.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for coverage of FC Cincinnati’s final ten games of the regular season.


Ottawa Fury FC 0 – 3 FC Cincinnati: Deeper Cuts

We dive deeper into FC Cincinnati’s 3-0 victory over Ottawa Fury FC (and that highlight-reel Walker goal).

Image: Joe Craven

FC Cincinnati’s last game against Ottawa Fury FC in 2017 was an embarrassing 4-0 loss that almost knocked them out of playoff contention. Considering Cincinnati has undergone a sea change while the Fury remained relatively quiet in the offseason, the result had to be different this time.

With possession pretty much evenly split, but with shots in Cincinnati’s favor, this game again felt like two separate halves. Held toothless in the first, FCC broke through with three quick goals in the second half, including two beautiful distance shots from Kenney Walker and Manu Ledesma. In the end, both teams exhibited their preexisting strengths and weaknesses.

Ottawa’s Big Gamble

While Ottawa has given up 14 goals, the most in the USL for any squad, they tend to last a bit longer out of the gate than one might expect. So far, the Fury have not given up a goal in the first 30 minutes of a game, but they’ve collapsed by the end of it, having given up 11 in the last 30 minutes.

This makes Ottawa’s overall setup from Saturday perplexing. Going by their heat maps, Ottawa looked content with playing a high back line and a pulled-back attack line. Over the first 45 minutes, this appeared to be working—FCC was unable to break beyond the defense. When they did, either the offside flag went up (seven times!), or the faster Ottawa defense was able to catch the break from behind.

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Ottawa’s 1st-half (left) and 2nd-half heat maps. Note the midfield work and lack of box presence.

This pressure led to a more comfortable Ottawa attack, but FC Cincinnati’s defense was also unshakeable. While Ottawa took seven corner kicks to Cincinnati’s one over the course of the game, their drawn-back offense forced them to fire outside the box. Only one shot—a quick open-goal clearance by Blake Smith in the 43rd minute—was on frame and in the box for Ottawa. However, the high-playing defense forced FCC’s attack back as well—only two off-target shots were fired in the first half.

Cincinnati’s Big Payoff

With Lance Laing out with a hamstring issue, Alan Koch opted to forego any sort of left-wing presence. The team rolled out a midfielder-heavy 4-4-1-1 diamond formation with Richie Ryan pulled back in midfield, Corben Bone and Walker on the sides, and Nazmi Albadawi heading the middle.

FCC OTT Ave Psn 04282018
Average positions for FCC (green) and OTT (black)

While this led to deeper defensive play in the first half, it led to cleaner work in the second. If we view the number of times teams “recovered” on the field, both had the same amount of recoveries* in the first half (27-26). However, FCC rebounded better in the second, recovering the ball 42 times to Ottawa’s 22.

With better control of the ball in the offensive half, FCC’s attack got progressively stronger, while Ottawa saw their own chances fade. FCC hammered 12 shots in the second half, and all but two were taken from inside the box. The Fury, on the other hand, had only one off-target shot over a 30-minute span in the second half. Ottawa ended up with a generous 10 shots over the full 90 minutes, but only two were inside the box.

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FCC (green) and OTT (black) shots in the 1st half (left) and 2nd half (right).

Yes, Cincinnati may have been snake-bit in the first half. However, their typical second-half surge, combined with Ottawa’s late-game lethargy, produced the expected result.

That Walker Goal, Though

It’s hard to add much analysis to the wonder-goal that Kenney Walker hit from way downtown. It wasn’t the longest goal in USL history—this shot from Sacramento’s Rodrigo Lopez in 2015 has it beat—but it might be the prettiest half-field volley.

Goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau had been playing a fantastic game for Ottawa. Attacks from Danni König and Bone came down the center of the box, but Crepeau stayed forward and wide to absorb shots. However, the forward pull of the defense may have led to his downfall.

Crepeau had been playing further up in the box than Spencer Richey did, perhaps as a precaution for any plays that got by Ottawa’s defensive line. As a result, Crepeau may have been more ready for a closer challenge. A typical high volley from 50 yards could be caught or padded away, even at this distance. However, Walker’s shot was a flat volley screened by players that gave Crepeau little time to react.

The telestrator doesn’t lie. From the goal kick by Richey to the time the ball hit the net, the shot never hit the ground and even scraped the post on the way in. Chalk that part up to luck, but considering Ledesma’s later goal was also a distance chip-shot, Walker may have known what he was doing all along.

Up Next

FC Cincinnati’s road trip continues Wednesday with a return to the “scene of the crime” in Indy. With Walker back from his concussion, it will be interesting to see if this new look formation gets more play.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s next away game.

*Recovery – This is where a player wins back the ball when it has gone loose or where the ball has been played directly to him.