Penn FC 1 – 2 FC Cincinnati: Second-Half “Magic” Clinches Eastern Conference

Late goals from an elite duo secure a win for FC Cincinnati against Penn FC in Harrisburg. The victory also comes with the USL’s regular season Eastern Conference title.

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Graphic: Conner Paquette / Image: JES Photography

FC Cincinnati extended their winning streak to eight in a row and are now 19 games unbeaten after a dramatic 2-1 comeback victory over Penn FC on Saturday. More importantly, the win secures the top spot in the Eastern Conference and secures home field advantage through the Eastern Conference finals.

An unattractive first half on an unattractive FNB field saw the former City Islanders claim the lead after 33 minutes. Emmanuel Ledesma conceded a foul to Penn FC 30 yards outside of the box on the right. The subsequent free kick bounced in the penalty area and was headed back across goal by Penn FC’s Harri Hawkins. Brazilian midfielder Paúlo Junior was first to react and thumped the ball easily past Spencer Richey to make it 1-0 to Penn FC. Both teams struggled to produce many more clear chances as the first 45 minutes expired. The Orange & Blue went into the break a goal down, only managing to generate one shot in the first half.

The second half didn’t start much better for FCC. The Pennsylvania side created more chances and held an 11-4 shot advantage after 57 minutes of play. Alan Koch decided to change things up at that point with a wave of substitutes. In the 61st minute he introduced Emery Welshman for Danni König, who had picked up an early yellow card. Six minutes later he modified the midfield by introducing Nazmi Albadawi and Kenney Walker.

Just after the third substitute was made, FC Cincinnati broke on a dangerous counter-attack. Emmanuel Ledesma dribbled at goal then laid the ball off to Emery Welshman who shot from inside the box but wide left. Penn FC goalkeeper, Sean Lewis, who had been excellent to that point, parried the ball away. The rebound fell right into the path of Ledesma, who struck it first-time into goal from close range. 1-1.

Sixteen minutes later, “Magic” Corben Bone produced an Eastern Conference-clinching goal. Albadawi stripped Penn FC’s Aaron Dennis just outside of the home team’s penalty area. The ball fell to Corben Bone who took one touch then launched a delicate diagonal strike from outside the box into the right side-netting to make it 2-1, FC Cincinnati.

Penn FC was shocked and down, but kept swinging. Forrest Lasso used every inch of his 6’4” frame to jump and clear a Richard Menjívar curler off the line in stoppage time. In a game that looked headed for a disappointing FCC result, the Orange & Blue’s difference-making talent found a way . . . for the 19th straight time.

Final Score: Penn FC 1 – 2 FC Cincinnati

Standings Update

FC Cincinnati clinched the Eastern Conference on Saturday with four matches remaining in the regular season. Even though second-place Pittsburgh won on Saturday as well, FCC’s victory brings them to 69 points on the season. That’s higher than the total of 68 points that the Riverhounds can reach if they win the rest of their remaining matches. Alan Koch’s side now can turn their attention to the USL regular-season title, which is within very close reach.

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Highlight of the Match

The high press from Naz to win the ball, the immediate, inch-perfect strike from Corben Bone–this is a goal worthy of clinching a conference title.

Quote of the Match

Alan Koch talked about the historic win, but as always, kept a measured approach to what this accomplishment means.

“It’s step one, there’s a lot of people going crazy in the change room right now – as they should be – I’m smiling, I’m happy, we’ve all worked our backsides off to get where we are, but we’re hungry for more. You can hear the players inside, they’re congratulating each other, but we’re getting ready for Wednesday, we want to win the regular season title for both conferences.”

Stat of the Match

18% – FC Cincinnati didn’t dominate many statistical categories in this match. One thing they did do, as they have all season, is convert the chances they created at a better rate than their opponent. FC Cincinnati, who leads the USL in conversion rate, scored two goals from 11 shots (excluding blocks) – for an 18% conversion rate. Penn FC had 1 goal from 14 shots, for a conversion rate of 7%.

FC Cincinnati’s shots on goal. They scored 2 goals from 11 unblocked shots for an 18% conversion rate.

Who Started?

Alan Koch made five changes from the side that beat Toronto FC II 4-3 last Saturday. Jimmy McLaughlin, Danni König, Tyler Gibson, Dekel Keinan, and Matt Bahner all joined the starting eleven. Fatai Alashe and Richie Ryan missed the match through injury. Fanendo Adi was not in the 18 for this match.

König (61′ Welshman)
Ledesma – Bone – McLaughlin (68′ Albadawi)
Lahoud (68′ Walker) – Gibson
Smith – Lasso – Keinan (C) – Bahner
Richey

What’s Next?

FC Cincinnati has a short turnaround following this conference-claiming match. That shouldn’t matter much though because they have a deep squad and a chance to clinch the USL regular season title on Wednesday. They’ll travel to Virginia for a midweek contest against the Richmond Kickers. It’s one that FCC should win on paper. The Kickers have just 6 wins and have been eliminated from playoff contention already. Can FCC get it done against one of the longest-tenured teams in the U.S. second division, and one with a historic unbeaten streak of their own?

Tune into Orange & Blue Press on Wednesday to find out.

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Match Program: FC Cincinnati at Penn FC

Design: CSDIV

Riding a wave of table-topping success, Eastern Conference titans FC Cincinnati head to the Keystone State to face 13th place Penn FC on Saturday. As the Orange and Blue travel East, their mission will be to secure all three points and get their eighth straight win. The recent 4-3 victory over Toronto FC 2 put the squad within striking distance of a historic milestone. With a playoff birth guaranteed and 66 points already tallied, one more win will secure the club’s first Eastern Conference title.

The road presents no obstacle for FC Cincinnati when it comes to getting results. The 18-match unbeaten streak has enjoyed the comforts of home 11 times. Matches away from the cozy confines of Nippert Stadium, however, have been just as fruitful. FCC has gathered 15 of a possible 21 points on the road during this undefeated stretch. As they’ve proven all season long, they’ll beat you anywhere. Will the streak end anytime soon? Let’s look at who may stand in the way of that eighth straight win.

Penn FC currently sits in a tough spot when it comes to playoff hopes. Their overall record of 9-12-8 and 35 points has them 6 points behind 8th place NYRB II. With 4 games remaining against 3 teams in the top 8, climbing into that group may be insurmountable. The total goal-tally for the team stands at 34, led by Zimbabwean striker Lucky Mkosana, who has 10.  Salvadoran midfielder Richard Menjivar bolsters the attack, leading the team in assists with 6. The teams recent 5-match form is 2-3-0. Most recently, they lost 3-0 to Louisville City FC on Wednesday.

The two teams first met on August 12th. FC Cincinnati kept fans in suspense until the end, pulling out a late 1-0 victory. It took 80 minutes before Emmanuel Ledesma found his moment to shine. After being leveled outside of the box, the Argentinian took the opportunity he knows so well.  As if to will the ball in the net, his bending and dipping free kick found the net beating the keeper to the far post. The match overall was scrappy and relatively even by the numbers with neither gaining a clear foothold.

FC Cincinnati will have the advantage of rest as Penn FC traveled midweek to Louisville City FC. With precious time and points ebbing away, Penn FC is fighting to stay in the playoff picture. A team secured a playoff spot playing against a team desperate for one breeds upsets. Let’s hope FCC can continue their unbeaten run and bring home the Eastern Conference title.

Fast Facts

Here are four fast facts to get you ready for Saturday’s 7:00 p.m. kickoff at FNB Field in Harrisburg, PA.

  • This will be the second meeting of the two teams, at least in its current form. Penn FC is a re-branding of the former Harrisburg City Islanders. The two have met five times during the past three seasons. FCC has the edge with a record of 3-0-2.
  • The Orange and Blue road warriors have a spectacular away form of 9-1-3 this season. As they travel to Harrisburg, they’ll attempt two firsts as a club while traveling: Winning a conference championship, and……winning in Harrisburg.  That’s right, FCC has never taken all three points away from that field on an island in Pennsylvania.
  • With 60 goals on the season, FCC is creeping up on USL league leader NYRB II who’s sitting at 62. Quality versus quantity is the name of the game though. A total of 366 shots thus far has FC Cincinnati sitting 15th overall in the league. Finishing chances has been and always will be the difference. Currently FCC sits atop the league in conversion rate, finishing 21% percent of their chances.
  • FC Cincinnati has a chance to put themselves into the USL history book, again.  Earning at least a point will put the club at 19 games unbeaten. This will be the second longest undefeated run in league history, and only 3 away from all time leader Richmond Kickers.  With 5 matches to play, will they get to 23?

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati at Penn FC this Saturday.

Images: FC Cincinnati 1 – 0 Penn FC

Images of FC Cincinnati’s victory over Penn FC on Saturday, August 12th, at Nippert Stadium.

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Here are images of FC Cincinnati’s 1-0 victory over Penn FC on Saturday, August 12th. When browsing the gallery below, for any given image, a high-resolution version can be found by scrolling down and clicking “View Full Size.”A watermark identifying the photographer can be found on each photo. All images are courtesy of Ryan Meyer and Joe Craven.

For more particulars of Saturday’s contest, turn your attention to the following article.

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FC Cincinnati 1 – 0 Penn FC: Three Points to Celebrate the Club’s Third Anniversary

Images

All images are copyright 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 2018 season.

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FC Cincinnati 1 – 0 Penn FC: Three Points to Celebrate the Club’s Third Anniversary

Design: Connor Paquette / Image: Ryan Meyer

FC Cincinnati continues to beat the teams they should beat. The home side did just enough to edge Penn FC in front of 24,249 “White-Out” fans on the club’s third anniversary celebration at Nippert. For the second match in a row at home, the Orange & Blue kept their fans in suspense until the end.

The first half performance was disjointed from the start. Nazmi Albadawi took a hard elbow to the mouth in the ninth minute, damaging his mouth and teeth. Dealing with the result of the knock seemed to impact the ability of the team to find a decent rhythm. Even though they had a slight edge in control, FCC’s play was erratic with limited quality possession.

Toward the latter part of the half, FCC had several decent opportunities. In the 42nd minute, Emmanuel Ledesma’s cross across the six yard box was cleared across the end line. On the ensuing corner, Paddy Barrett’s header ricocheted off the cross bar. Although far from threatening, Penn FC went into the half with a 7 to 2 advantage in both total shots and crosses. Only one of the shots found its target, but was saved easily by Spencer Richey. The sides entered halftime 0-0.

The intensity of the match changed in the second half when Alan Koch brought on three substitutes. First, in the 58th minute, Kenney Walker relieved Albadawi, who never seemed to fully recover from the injury to his mouth. Fan favorite “Penn Messi”, Jimmy McLaughlin, subbed in for Russell Cicerone in the 68th minute. Koch made his third and final substitution in the 77th minute when Fanendo Adi came on to make his second FCC appearance, replacing Danni König.

Of the nine shots the Orange & Blue created in the second half, six came in the final 30 minutes. Only two of these were on target, but it only took one to secure the win. Following some decent possession and combination play, Ledesma was decked by Penn FC defensive stalwart and captain Ken Tribbett, who justifiably earned a yellow for the infraction. This set up an attractive scoring opportunity in the 80th minute. Ledesma lined up his strike and released a bullet that deflected off of an unlucky Lucky Mkosana, finding the left corner of the net.

The final ten minutes of the match were eventful with both sides exchanging missed opportunities and blocked shots. As the game neared its end, Adi had a terrific chance to notch his FC Cincinnati first goal but was felled in the box by a Penn FC defender. To his, and the crowd’s dismay, no penalty was awarded. Instead of a foul, the match official blew the final whistle.

Special mention to Paddy Barrett for his play Sunday night. Possibly inspired by learning moments before the match that he would wear the captain’s arm band, he logged in a stellar performance –  5 tackles won, 6 recoveries and 5 clearances.

Final Score: FC Cincinnati 1 – 0 Penn FC

Standings Update

With less than 10 weeks remaining in the regular season, FCC added 3 more points to their season total (48) to maintain a five point cushion on Pittsburgh SC and the Charleston Battery. Tonight’s win extends FCC’s current unbeaten streak to twelve (8-0-4), setting a new franchise record.

Highlight of the Match

With the only tally of the match, it’s no surprise that Ledesma’s 80th minute goal is your highlight of the match. This strike takes him to 10 goals (tied with König) and 10 assists for the season.

Quote of the Match

During the post match press conference, when asked about the team’s unbeaten streak, Emmanuel Ledesma remarked:

“A lot of team work, a lot of hard work. During the game, during the week, we keep the same intensity. The way we train is the same way you play. So, it’s a lot of confidence . . . I’m thinking about football, it’s about confidence. When the confidence is high, you can do whatever you want. ”  

Stat of the Match

The stat of the match is 10 – as in the 10th clean sheet of the season that Spencer Richey and the backline earned for the club, Richey’s second of the USL season.

Who Started?

Alan Koch made three changes to the line-up that FC Cincinnati deployed during their last match when they drew Nashville SC 1-1. Richey returned to the net making his sixth USL start of the season. Barrett replaced Dekel Keinan in the back four and Russ Cicerone also joined the starting XI in place of Kenney Walker. The other change of note was Koch’s decision to play a 4-3-3 attack minded formation.

Ledesma – König (77′ Adi) – Cicerone (68′ McLaughlin)
Bone – Lahoud – Albadawi (57′ Walker)
Smith – Lasso – Barrett – Hoyte
Richey

What’s Next?

Next up is the final home game of a six match USL home stretch for Orange & Blue. USL  Coach of the Month for July, Mike Anhaeuser, brings his Battery to Nippert for a rematch of the season’s opening game.

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

Match Program: FC Cincinnati vs Penn FC

Orange & Blue Press’ Match Program supplies the information and fast facts you need for FC Cincinnati’s league meeting with Penn FC.

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Design: CSDIV / Cover Image: Ryan Meyer

FC Cincinnati plays its penultimate match of a six-game USL homestand this weekend when they face Penn FC at Nippert Stadium. The Sunday evening kickoff arrives eight days after Fanendo Adi debuted for the Orange & Blue in a 1-1 draw against Nashville SC. Alan Koch’s team is currently perched on top of the Eastern Conference with 45 points, a position they’ve held consistently over the past nine weeks. They are also on the brink of extended their current unbeaten streak to 12 games, which would be a club record.

Penn FC, of course, is the rebrand of long-time second-tier club, the Harrisburg City Islanders. This will be the first time FC Cincinnati has faced the Pennsylvania-based outfit in their new plumage. The Orange & Blue are an undefeated 2-0-2 in their matchups with the City Islanders dating back to 2016. Each of the past two seasons FC Cincinnati defeated Harrisburg by multiple goals in the matches played at Nippert.

Penn FC is in modest form of late. They have collected five points out of the last 15 on offer and only have a single win over that stretch—a 3-2 victory over Bethlehem Steel FC. Penn FC’s success this season stems most notably from a pair of ex-Cosmos players they snatched on the transfer market in March. Striker Lucky Mkosana leads the team with 8 goals, while midfielder Richard Menjivar is the team’s playmaker and leads the team in assists (5), chances created (35), and passing accuracy* (82.5%).

A potential storyline for this match was the return striker Tommy Heinemann to the Queen City. Signed by FC Cincinnati on December 5th of last year, the club released the full-framed forward under controversial circumstances in February. However, the 31-year-old former Columbus Crew man has not appeared for Penn FC since their June 12th match against Richmond. He left that game in the 17th minute with an apparent injury and hasn’t made Penn FC’s 18-man squad since.

Fast Facts

Here are five fast facts to get you ready for Sunday’s 6pm kickoff.

  • Expect a few cards to fly. These teams are both in the top 10 in yellow cards this season, FCC with 45 and Penn FC with 42. Interestingly, neither team has seen red over the entire season.
  • Penn FC is one of USL’s bottom five teams in passing accuracy at an average of 73%. FC Cincinnati is at 77%, just over the median passing accuracy in the USL (76.5%).
  • FC Cincinnati averages one goal every 47 minutes of play, just under one per half. Compare that to Penn FC who averages one goal every 75 minutes.
  • Corben Bone is FC Cincinnati’s “Iron Man” in 2018. He leads the team in appearances (22), starts (20, tied with Ledesma), and minutes played (1,783). Meanwhile, Penn FC’s players are made of a less-sturdy metal—no player on the team has played more than 18 out of 21 games.
  • It is best to not take the Penn FC offense lightly. While the team scored only 6 goals in their first 10 games, they have scored 19 in their last 11 games. During the latter stretch, Mkosana has scored all 8 of his goals.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati versus Penn FC.

*Statistic only considers players with more than 100 passes.