FC Cincinnati Is Playoff Bound

FC Cincinnati punched their ticket to the 2017 USL playoffs by getting a little help from the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Thursday evening.

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Photo Credit: JES Photography

FC Cincinnati advanced to the 2017 USL playoffs on Thursday, benefitting from a victory by the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The Rowdies defeated 9th-place Orlando City B at Orlando City Stadium by a 2-0 scoreline. Georgi Hristov and Sebastian Guenzatti scored two late goals for Tampa Bay to secure the victory.

Defeat for Orlando City B in their last match of the season means they will remain in 9th place. No other team can overtake FC Cincinnati, who currently occupies eighth, the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Playoff Seeding Scenarios

There’s still a lot to play for this Saturday in FC Cincinnati’s final match of the season. The Orange and Blue can improve their playoff seed by beating Toronto FC II and climb as high as 6th in the standings heading into the postseason. Where they end up depends on how other results play out. Here’s a breakdown of the scenarios that can leave FC Cincinnati in either 6th, 7th, or 8th place.

6th – FC Cincinnati wins and BOTH New York Red Bulls II and Bethlehem Steel do not win.

7th – FC Cincinnati wins and either Red Bulls II or Bethlehem wins, but not both OR FC Cincinnati draws and Bethlehem loses.

8th – Any other scenario not covered above or a FC Cincinnati loss keeps them in 8th.

Regardless of where they end up, Alan Koch’s team will play their first playoff match away from Nippert Stadium. For more details of the final regular season match, check out our preview Cheat Sheet: FC Cincinnati at Toronto FC II.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of the Toronto FC II match and FC Cincinnati’s 2017 playoff run.

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Match Photos: FC Cincinnati 2 – 2 Orlando City B

Images of FC Cincinnati’s 2-2 draw with Orlando City B on Saturday August 5th, courtesy of Joe Schmuck.

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Here are fourty images of FC Cincinnati’s 2-2 draw with Orlando City B on Saturday August 5th courtesy of Joe Schmuck.

Also see the match report: FC Cincinnati 2 – 2 Orlando City B: Four Numbers That Mattered

All images are copy write protected to safeguard the creative rights of our photographers. We’re very open to sharing our work with those who want to show support for FC Cincinnati. We simply request that you ask (via DM on Twitter or email) and give credit where it’s due. Thanks!

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2017 season.

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FC Cincinnati 2 – 2 Orlando City B: Four Numbers That Mattered

FC Cincinnati captured a last gasp equalizer to share the points with Orlando City B at Nippert Stadium on Saturday August 5th.

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Photo courtesy JES Photography / Joe Schmuck

FC Cincinnati played to a 2-2 stalemate with Orlando City B in front of a USL regular season record crowd at Nippert Stadium on Saturday. Anthony Pulis’ Orlando side were familiar opponents for the Orange and Blue. Saturday’s match was the third time these two teams have met in USL play this season, and the second time the teams have clashed in just over thirty days.

FC Cincinnati drew first blood, counter-attacking against aggressive early pressure from Orlando City. In the sixth minute, wingback Josu received the ball on FC Cincinnati’s left. He delivered a delicious cross from a wide position for forward Kyle Greig. Greig jumped with little opposition and nodded the ball into goal from close range.

FC Cincinnati had a chance to go up another goal just three minutes later. Kyle Greig was pulled down in the box by defender Zachary Ellis-Hayden and a penalty kick was awarded. Aodhan Quinn placed the penalty kick low to the keepers right but Orlando’s Earl Edwards Jr. was there to block the shot and smother the rebound.

Orlando City B equalized quickly thereafter. A long throw-in by the visitors was headed away from the six yard box by Cincinnati defender Sem De Wit. The clearance didn’t make it out of the penalty area though, and Orlando’s Austin Martz was there to pounce. His first-time strike found the net through traffic and the score was level just eight minutes later.

The level scoreline held until the 55th minute of play. It was then that a counter-attack by Orlando City B sent striker Hadji Barry in on goal with acres of space to attack. He dribbled into the box uncontested and blasted a far post shot past Mitch Hildebrandt to give the visitors the lead.

Alan Koch’s side looked to be beaten, but a last gasp stoppage time attack earned FC Cincinnati a point. Two substitutes connected for the equalizing goal. Kenney Walker played a speculative long ball from his own half that bounced in Orlando City’s box. An defender got his head on the ball, but he couldn’t nod it all the way back to his keeper. Cincinnati forward Danni König intervened and got a flick on the ball, sending it past Edwards Jr. and into the goal.

Most would agree that this was not a vintage FC Cincinnati performance. However, Alan Koch’s side was able to secure a point from a match that followed closely on the heels of an emotional US Open Cup victory.

FC Cincinnati’s position in the league table remains unchanged after Saturday’s draw. They sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference on 31 points with ten games left to play. The remaining schedule will be challenging though. Seven of FC Cincinnati’s final ten matches are on the road. Orlando advances from eleventh to ninth with draw, positioning themselves just outside of the playoff spots.

Four Numbers That Mattered

16 – The jersey number of Kyle Greig – The Vancouver Whitecaps forward was acquired by FC Cincinnati on loan on July 11th and had a big impact early in this match. His sixth minute strike was his first ever goal for the Orange and Blue. He also drew the foul to earn a penalty kick shortly thereafter. The Wisconsin native started at forward in place of Djiby Fall, who was suspended after receiving a red card last week against Rochester.

9 – The minute of play when FC Cincinnati failed to convert a penalty kick – This match should have seen FCC take a two goal advantage before the ten minute mark. Orlando’s Earl Edwards Jr. guessed well, and saved Quinn’s penalty kick comfortably despite the strike being placed near the corner.

5 – The number of goals FC Cincinnati has conceded at home in their last two matches. Alan Koch’s defense has been impermeable in the US Open Cup; they haven’t conceded a single goal in that tournament. The same can’t be said of their recent league form, where opponents are finding ways to break down FC Cincinnati even within the stronghold of Nippert Stadium. Orlando City B had only scored two goals in five matches leading up to this contest.

25,308 – The USL regular season record-setting attendance for Saturday’s match – An unusually mild August night saw a large walk-up crowd add to FC Cincinnati’s typically strong attendance numbers. FC Cincinnati eclipsed their own record of 24,376 set against this same Orlando City B side in 2016.

Match Photos via JES Photography / Joe Schmuck

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Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more news, analysis, and color commentary on FC Cincinnati. Their next match is the third and final installment of the Dirty River Derby against Louisville City next Saturday.

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Cheat Sheet: FC Cincinnati vs Orlando City B

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

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Photo courtesy of Ryan Meyer Photography

FC Cincinnati hosts Orlando City B in USL league play on Saturday, August 5th at Nippert Stadium. Alan Koch’s side comes into the match buzzing after Wednesday’s US Open Cup triumph over Miami FC in Florida.

Saturday will be the third time these two teams have met in league action this season. They last faced-off in the Sunshine State just over one month ago. The Orange and Blue conceded a very early goal in that contest, but clawed one back to earn a 1-1 draw. It should be noted that Orlando City B fielded a less than full strength lineup in that match due to MLS call-ups. Earlier this season, Orlando City B handed FC Cincinnati its worst home defeat of the season, beating Alan Koch’s side 2-0 at Nippert.

Orlando City B currently sits in eleventh place in the Eastern Conference on 24 points, but has played one less match than FCC. The Orange and Blue are six points above them in the standings in sixth place.

Anthony Pulis’ Orlando side have been the draw specialists of the Eastern conference recently. They’ve played to stalemates in each of their last five matches. They’ve been defensively solid during that time, only conceding two goals over that stretch. They are having a hard time finding the back of the net though. Both teams played on Wednesday, August 2nd, and are therefore on equal footing in terms of days of rest coming into the game.

FC Cincinnati’s leading goalscorer Djiby is suspended for this match as a result of the red card he received last week against Rochester.

Over twenty thousand fans are expected on Saturday, and a mild storm-free weather forecast should produce a good walk-up crowd.

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Here are four fast facts to tell the guy sitting next to you in the stands. He’ll think you’re wicked-smart.

  • Orlando City B has produced the fewest shots of any USL team this season with 150 total.
  • FC Cincinnati has recently found the ability to score from distance. Their first 23 goals of the season were all scored from inside the penalty area. In their last two league matches however, 3 of the 5 goals were scored from outside of the box.
  • This week has been full of front office action. Head coach Alan Koch and assistant coach Yoann Damet inked new multi-year contracts extensions with FC Cincinnati. On the player side, wingback Josu added another year to his existing contract. Also, Garrett Halfhill, the Xavier product who’s been playing on an amateur contract, signed a full professional contract with FCC.
  • Saturday’s contest is a matchup between two of the better passing sides in USL. Both teams are in the top 10 in total passes, and do so with a 77% or better team passing accuracy.

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

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Orlando City B 1 – 1 FC Cincinnati: Djiby Returns for Florida Stalemate

Early goals were traded but neither team could find a winner when FC Cincinnati and Orlando City B met in Florida on Saturday.

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Photo credit Mark Thor / Orlando City B
FC Cincinnati played Orlando City B to a 1-1 stalemate at Orlando City Stadium on Saturday evening. Djiby provided the equalizer for the Orange and Blue in the 17th minute in response to a strike by OCB’s Jordan Schweitzer in the opening minutes of the match.

The goal for Alan Koch’s team originated when Corben Bone intercepted the ball deep in FC Cincinnati’s own half. He played it forward to Djiby, who quickly laid it off to the nearby Jimmy McLaughlin. The Pennsylvania native played a long diagonal ball to Andrew Wiedeman who was streaking down the right side. Wiedeman outpaced the left back and rolled the ball into the center for DJiby, who tapped it home.

FC Cincinnati had opportunities to take the lead after the 17th minute, creating many more chances than Orlando City B, but could not convert.

Orlando City B ended the game with ten men. Pierra Da Silva was sent to the lockers for violent conduct after kicking-out in a tackle against substitute Kadeem Dacres. There was little time for Alan Koch’s side to take advantage though, and the teams shared the points.

Talking Points

Djiby Recovers Quickly

The Senegalese forward sustained an ankle injury last Saturday in the 2-0 win against Saint Louis FC. That injury saw him miss Wednesday’s US Open Cup triumph against the Chicago Fire. Fortunately, his injury was short in duration and he went right back into action against Orlando City B, playing 73 minutes.

Djiby led the team in shots (5) and shot on target (3), and scored FCC’s only goal of the match with a simple tap in. That’s his eighth USL goal of the season and 11th overall. He will rue a missed first half opportunity to score the game winner. An errant pass by OCB goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr. was put right into his path, but an bad touch saw the opportunity come and go.

Weakened Lions

Two of OCB’s leading goalscorers, Hadji Barry and Richie Laryea, were with the senior Orlando City MLS team on Friday for their game against Real Salt Lake. They therefore did not suit up against FC Cincinnati on Saturday. Barry and Laryea have each netted three times for the Anthony Pulis’ side this season.

Held at Arm’s Length

FC Cincinnati produced far more shots than Orlando City B in this match. They had a 14-2 shot advantage, excluding blocked shots. Many of those efforts were from long range though. In fact, the only on-target shot that FC Cincinnati took from inside the box was Djiby’s goal. The rest of their on-frame efforts were from distance. FC Cincinnati has not scored a goal from outside the 18-yard box this season.

Graphic from USL’s Match Center showing FC Cincinnati’s on-target shots, excluding the goal.

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Away Woes

This result in isolation is not a bad one. A point on the road against a team that beat FC Cincinnati 2-0 at Nippert is decent. However, when you look at the team’s form away from home in the first half of the season, you might be concerned. FC Cincinnati has only one win in seven matches away from Nippert in 2017, collecting five of 21 possible points.

At the halfway point of the 2016 season, they had three wins and 11 total road points. They’ll look to quickly improve on their season totals when they visit the Tampa Bay Rowdies this Thursday.

Halftime on FC Cincinnati’s Season

With 16 matches played, Saturday’s result brings FC Cincinnati to the halfway point of their 2017 USL season. They are 5-5-6 with 21 points and sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. At the halfway point of the 2016 season, FC Cincinnati had a 9-2-4 record with 31 total points (last year’s season was 30 games rather than 32).

Alan Koch’s side is positioned right in the middle of a log jam of teams with fairly average results. Only five points separates Tampa Bay in third place from Pittsburgh in eleventh. The good news for FC Cincinnati is that a lot will be decided in the second half of the season. The first half of this season has been about figuring out how to configure a deep roster with a lot of new faces into a system that fits their talent.

Many fans are optimistic about the team’s form after recent changes to the formation. That form has provided monumental victories in the US Open Cup and a trip to the quarterfinals of that tournament. They’ll need to translate that cup form into league results in the second half of the season to ensure playoff qualification and a decent seed.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more news, analysis, and color commentary on FC Cincinnati. Next up is another road match in Florida against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Thursday, July 6th.

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Cheat Sheet: FC Cincinnati at Orlando City B

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

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Image for header and information graphic courtesy of Ryan Meyer Photography

FC Cincinnati is on the road for the first of two games in Florida over six days. They face Orlando City B for a late 8:30pm kickoff on Saturday, before making the short trip to Tampa on Thursday to face the Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium. They’ll be brimming with confidence but short on rest, after their penalty kick triumph over the Chicago Fire in the US Open Cup.

On May 13th, FC Cincinnati played a game to forget against this same Orlando City B side. They were beat at Nippert by a 2-0 scoreline, the heaviest home defeat of the club’s one-and-a-half year history. That game was marred by refereeing controversy. Card happy official Calin Radosav issued cautions to Bahner, Quinn, Delbridge, Bone, König, and McLaughlin, all by the 67th minute of the match.

Orlando City B has posted mixed results since their victory in Cincinnati. They’re 2-3-1 over that stretch, including a loss to cellar-dwellers Toronto FC II, who only have two wins all season.

At the conclusion of Saturday’s game, FC Cincinnati will have completed one half of their 32 game USL season.

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

  • FC Cincinnati has won only one game away from home this season. That victory came exactly three months ago against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, who they beat 1-0 at Highmark Stadium.
  • OCB’s playmaker and US Youth International Pierre Da Silva currently sits second in USL in assists with six total this season, second only to Vincent Bezecourt of NY Red Bulls II.
  • Leading goalscorer Djiby missed Wednesday’s match against the Chicago Fire with an ankle injury. His return for this match is questionable.
  • This match features two of the best shot stoppers in the Eastern Conference. Mitch Hildebrandt is 2nd in the conference in saves at 38. OCB’s Earl Edwards Jr. leads the conference with 40 saves over 15 matches.

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

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Match Photos: FC Cincinnati 0 – OCB 2

Images courtesy of Ryan Meyer of FC Cincinnati’s 2-0 defeat by Orlando City B at Nippert Stadium on Saturday May 13th.

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Check out these images of Saturday’s match against Orlando City B courtesy of Ryan Meyer. When browsing the gallery below for any given image, a high resolution version can be found by scrolling down and clicking “View Full Size.”

Also see FC Cincinnati 0 – Orlando City B 2: Talking Points from a Frustrating Result.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s home stand. AFC Cleveland is up next in the US Open Cup on Wednesday.

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FC Cincinnati 0 – Orlando City B 2: Talking Points from a Frustrating Result

Six talking points from FC Cincinnati’s frustrating defeat at the hands of Orlando City B at Nippert Stadium on Saturday.

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Photo Courtesy Ryan Meyer Photography
FC Cincinnati was defeated 2-0 at the hands of Orlando City B at Nippert Stadium on Saturday in front of 19,310 fans. After a scoreless 75 minutes of play, Orlando City B’s US Youth International Pierre Da Silva put his team in the lead from the penalty spot. The visitors recorded a second goal in stoppage time to ice the victory. The match was characterized by frustration and refereeing controversy, with the key moments of the match benefitting the visitors.

Talking Points

Danny König

FC Cincinnati brought in reinforcements for this match in the form of shiny new striker Danni König. The 30-year-old Danish forward will lead FC Cincinnati’s line while Djiby Fall continues to serve a six match suspension. König played the full 90, put forth energy in attack and created four chances, leading the team. He had trouble at times getting on the ball, with only 27 total touches. He was not able to produce a single shot.

Referee and Yellow Cards

The referee, Calin Radosav, was a point of controversy throughout the match. He was continuously booed for what FC Cincinnati’s fans believed to be incorrect and inconsistent calls. He stopped play frequently and meted out yellow cards, mostly to FC Cincinnati players. Bahner, Quinn, Delbridge, Bone, König, and McLaughlin were all in the referee’s notebook by the 67th minute of the match. König and Bone’s cards were for dissent in the aftermath of contested calls.

Match Photos: FC Cincinnati 0 – OCB 2

Wide Attack

FC Cincinnati made a point of getting the ball into wide positions and putting crosses in the box for König and other attackers. The delivery of those crosses was not as good on Saturday as it has been in some of the team’s earlier matches. Six of 30 crosses for FC Cincinnati found their mark, when the team’s crossing accuracy is typically over 30%.

It should be noted that McLaughlin produced some moments of quality from wide positions in the second half that attackers perhaps should have gotten on the end of or converted.

Costly Penalty

Despite struggling to create, FC Cincinnati was still in a good position until a late penalty kick was awarded to OCB for a foul by Kadeem Dacres. The crowd was at boiling point when the penalty was awarded because of the refereeing inconsistency. It did however appear to be the correct call. Key moments change matches and unfortunately, FC Cincinnati has been on the wrong end of those moments too many times this season.

Quotable

“I was disappointed. Aside from the fact that we hate losing, we hate for that to happen in front of our incredible fans. At the same time, we have so many games ahead of us in the season. The last thing we need to do is to get bogged down right now. It’s time for this group to start getting results as we have too many good players on the squad to not.”

–Harrison Delbridge

Hanging On To The Top Half

The losing result drops FC Cincinnati into eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. However, the seven teams below them in the table have all played fewer games. FC Cincinnati has collected just nine points from nine matches. Only two teams in the Eastern Conference have a lower points per game (PPG) average.

Conference leaders Charleston are now ten points clear of FC Cincinnati at the top of the East and have played one less match.

Some of the refereeing in this match was unfortunate and perhaps even unfair. Good teams find a way to overcome obstacles and get results under difficult circumstance though. FC Cincinnati will need to start doing that soon in order to recover a favorable standing in the Eastern Conference.

The Orange and Blue will look to turn their fortunes around on Wednesday in the US Open Cup, when the NPSL’s AFC Cleveland comes to town for an Ohio derby.

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Cheat Sheet: FC Cincinnati vs Orlando City B

An information graphic provides the vital information for Saturday’s match between FC Cincinnati and Orlando City B. Plus, four fast facts.

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Photo courtesy of JES Photography / Joe Schmuck

FC Cincinnati returns to Nippert Stadium for the first of four consecutive home matches lasting through the end of May. They will face Orlando City B on Saturday in a matchup of teams with the same 2-3-3 record. Both teams are hovering just above the playoff line, in seventh and eighth position in the Eastern Conference.

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

  • FC Cincinnati did the double over OCB last season, winning 3-1 in Florida (highest goal total of season), and 1-0 at Nippert. They clinched third place in the Eastern Conference with the home win at Nippert against OCB in 2016. Casey Townsend scored the lone goal.
  • The numbers these two teams have accumulated over eight matches are strikingly similar. They have the exact same record (2-3-3), the same number of goals scored (9), they each average ~50% possession, and they’ve both conceded two penalty kicks (2). Orlando City B has conceded two more goals (10 total) than FC Cincinnati, giving FCC a standings advantage via goal difference.
  • 18 year old Pierre da Silva is a US Youth International and OCB’s creative force. He’s created 17 chances (more than anyone on either team) and tallied 4 assists in only seven matches played.
  • Djiby Fall has almost twice as many total shots (20) as any other player on FC Cincinnati’s roster, despite not playing the past two matches. Jimmy McLaughlin comes in second with 11 total shots. Danni König arrives this weekend to provide reinforcements for FC Cincinnati at center forward, as Djiby serves his third of six total games suspended.

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

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FC Cincinnati Victorious, Breaks Attendance Record Again

FC Cincinnati earned a critical victory on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Orlando City B at Nippert Stadium. The match was played in front of 24,376 fans and represents the third time this season the Orange and Blue have broken the USL single-game attendance record. The match was also important because Harkes’ men secured third place in the Eastern Conference, guaranteeing a home playoff game. Casey Townsend, who was recently signed by FC Cincinnati to bolster their offensive ranks, scored the game winning goal with an 81st minute header.

For play-by-play details of the games events, see the following sources.

Last Word on Soccer
USL
Enquirer
Cincinnati Soccer Talk
Orlando City

The Orange and Blue close out the regular season next Saturday with an away match against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

Photo courtesy of FC Cincinnati.