Match Program: FC Cincinnati at Louisville City FC

Orange & Blue Press presents a preview of the final regular-season showdown between FC Cincinnati and defending-champion Louisville City FC.

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Design: CSDIV / Image: Joe Craven

Update: Pittsburgh is now in second place after defeating Bethlehem Steel FC 4-1 on Friday.

The final regular-season “Dirty River Derby” takes place this weekend, as FC Cincinnati visits Louisville City FC for their third match in 2018. If the cards fall a certain way, this could be the final USL game between the two sides ever. However, there is still much more at stake than merely bragging rights. A win or draw by the Orange & Blue won’t take the River Cities Cup from Lou City, but it will likely put the Eastern Conference out of reach for FCC’s rival.

Lou City has already taken the regular-season crown between the two squads, dispatching FC Cincinnati twice at Nippert this season. In their home opener, FCC was unable to score, despite owning the ball most of the match and firing 38 crosses to Lou City’s 10. The 13th-minute goal from Cameron Lancaster was all the difference in the 1-0 loss.

In their second match, Lou City’s defensive clamp on the Orange & Blue was far tighter. Goals from Lancaster and George Davis IV put the game out of reach, and FCC could not get any offense. So far, the 2-0 loss in May is the only game where FC Cincinnati was unable to get a single shot on target.

However, since that loss, the two teams’ trajectories have been slightly different. FC Cincinnati’s 2-1 victory over Pittsburgh last Saturday gives the home squad a 16-game unbeaten stretch, equaling the longest such streak in the USL this year. The win lifted Cincinnati to a 13-point lead over Lou City. It also got their newest acquisition Fanendo Adi into the scoring column with his 88th-minute strike. The Orange & Blue are officially in the playoffs for the third-straight year and are close to getting a first-round home game.

The Boys in Purple, on the other hand, are trying to claw their way back to their familiar form. The departure of coach James O’Connor to Orlando City came during a 5-match winless streak (4 draws, 1 loss). While a three-man carousel kept Lou City afloat, the arrival of new coach John Hackworth has had mixed results. Two loud road wins against Charlotte and Richmond were countered by a home loss against Toronto FC II and a draw against Charleston last week.

FC Cincinnati will be without two of their key midseason acquisitions. Both Michael Lahoud (Sierra Leone) and Pa Konate (Guinea) are abroad during international duty. FCC is also likely without defender Matt Bahner and midfielder Richie Ryan due to leg injuries. Louisville City is still awaiting results for injuries to midfielders Brian Ownby (concussion) and Magnus Rasmussen (knee).

Fast Facts

Here are five facts that should keep you satiated until the final “Dirty River Derby” on Saturday:

  • Lou City has gotten into a recent habit of dropping points at home. After winning their first five at home, Lou City has won only once in the last 7 home games (1-4-2). While their goal differential has been good on the road (+14), it is only +6 at home.
  • Goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh has started all 26 USL games in net for Lou City, but that could be affecting his numbers. Compare his stats over 26 games the past three years, and it’s apparent that opponents could be figuring him out in 2018:
    • 2016: 77.9% save percentage, 12 clean sheets, 20 goals against
    • 2017: 70.0% save percentage, 12 clean sheets, 21 goals against
    • 2018: 64.4% save percentage, 9 clean sheets, 32 goals against
  • In comparison to Ranjitsingh, Evan Newton and Spencer Richey have shown that two goalkeepers could be better than one. The two have a combined 73.2% save percentage, 11 clean sheets, and 26 goals against over 27 games. FCC had 10 clean sheets in the USL all of 2016 and only 7 last year.
  • Emmanuel Ledesma is proving to be a solid MVP candidate, leading FC Cincinnati in goals and assists. However, Lou City has a gold-caliber contender of their own. Forward Cameron Lancaster leads the league with 18 goals and is the only player in the USL with over 1,000 minutes who averages under 90 minutes a goal. At this current clip, Lancaster will score 24 goals this year and break the record of 22 set in 2015 by Matt Fondy (who also played for Lou City).
  • DID YOU KNOW? A win or draw by FC Cincinnati would match Lou City’s longest-ever unbeaten streak of 17 games. That unbeaten streak in 2016 came to a halt on July 23rd when Lou City lost 2-0 to—you guessed it—FC Cincinnati.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s possible final match against Louisville City.

River Cities Cup: Two Moments That Mattered, and Then Three More

Louisville City FC nets five goals against the visiting FC Cincinnati side in the River Cities Cup, with a red card shown to Sem De Wit.

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Photo courtesy Louisville City FC

FC Cincinnati rolled into Louisville looking to secure three points against their rival in the River Cities Cup. In front of what is considered a record-setting crowd in Louisville, FCC failed to win those three points; instead, the squad allowed five goals across ninety minutes. They also earned multiple yellows and one fan, and rule contested red card.

First Blood

The game started with play mainly coming from the Louisville side, pushing into the box in the beginning minutes. Mitch saved multiple half-attempts from the Kentucky side, with opportunities aplenty sprouting from their side. The first moment that mattered came in the 15th minute; with a yellow card being awarded to the Ohio squad just two minutes before, McCabe took a pass from Totsch outside the box to head the ball past Mitch, into the bottom corner. 1-0 Louisville City.

De Wit Whistled Off

Cincinnati finally perked up after the first goal in the 17th minute, pushing into Louisville’s territory, but a weak shot on goal turned the ball over. The bluegrass boys continually pushed into Cincinnati’s ground only to be turned away by a punching Mitch and an aggressive Delbridge. The 35th minute was the next and most pivotal moment in the derby. Spencer laid an uncalled foul on Austin Berry and broke with a run toward goal, De Wit the last defenseman. De Wit pulled down Spencer and the referee pulled out the red card and sent him off.. FCC, now down to ten men, still had fifty-five plus minutes to come back, but the red card was hardly the last stinging moment.

Another Hit Before The Half

Added time, four minutes, in the first half proved to be too much for the FCC defense; a corner from Louisville connected with Spencer’s head and the ball fell past Mitch again into the corner. A 2-0 lead to Louisville as the whistle blew for halftime, enough to further deflate the visiting side as the defense struggled to keep out the attack, and the offense sat up the field void of opportunity.

Kaye Kicks Three

The beginning of the second half saw chances for FCC. The momentum swung back toward Louisville and the 50th minute began an offensive push with one shot and save after another. Louisville striker Kaye’s culminating assault in the 56th on FCC’s territory ended in another goal past the backline and into the net. Cincinnati’s defense stood, stuck on their back heels, with the offense relegated to being spectators.

The Fourth Netted

FC Cincinnati’s defense took a beating as they stood against the Louisville onslaught; Schindler, Walker, and Josu all taking to the body to prevent further damage to their side. The Louisville keeper finally marked his first save in the 71st minute, but only eighteen minutes passed between Kaye’s goal and Louisville’s next punch to the gut; Ballard made it 4-0 in the 72nd, even with Mitch getting a hand, but not handle on the ball. McLaughlin fought back for the offense with a few pushes toward goal, but each kick went wide. Walker garnered another yellow for the visitors in the 75th and the derby was all but wrapped.

Rivalry Rips A Fifth

The 83rd minute added insult to injury with a fifth goal coming from Louisville’s Reynolds; the defense allowed three offensemen to run unhindered into the box, Reynolds being the lucky receiver. Chants from the homestand rose up as the visitors finished the final minutes, but McLaughlin and Djiby decided not to go quietly and added a few shots on goal before the whistle blew for the final result.

Moving Forward

Only a few moments truly mattered during this away match: the opening goal and red card; everything after was because of the previous. Louisville tallied thirty shots on goal compared to Cincinnati’s eight, which is one of the only statistics needed to understand the lack of offense displayed by FCC. The outcome of this game does not give the Queen City our desired three points, but it does give us some other positive view points to keep in mind.

FC Cincinnati still sits in a playoff spot with nine games left in the regular season. No reason to linger on this loss other than to learn from the defensive mistakes and beef up the offensive drive in future games, especially against New York.

Cincinnati needs to prove that they can come up big in any game, and not just at home, though today was a much better time to give up five goals than against a visiting MLS powerhouse. Not all is doom and gloom and FCC moves forward and upward this week with eyes toward the US Open Cup and further, the playoffs, with Louisville in the rearview.

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