Match Program: FC Cincinnati vs Richmond Kickers

Orange & Blue Press’ Match Program gives you the information and five fast facts before Saturday’s home game versus the Richmond Kickers.


Design: CSDIV / Image: Ryan Meyer

The rest of the world may be buzzing about that tournament in Russia, but FC Cincinnati still has one more game before a mini-break of their own. Hoping to correct a sluggish start to the home schedule, the Boys in Orange & Blue welcome the Richmond Kickers to Nippert Stadium on Saturday.

FCC returned home to a midweek crowd of 22,407, only to share the points with Bethlehem Steel FC in a 2-2 draw on Wednesday. The team was unable to completely capitalize on a Steel FC red card and goals by Nazmi Albadawi and Russell Cicerone. Despite the draw, FCC remains unbeaten in the past three games. The team still leads the Eastern Conference with 27 points, but failed to make significant distance from the field. Louisville City is only four points behind with three games in hand.

Meanwhile, Richmond remains near the bottom of the table in 14th place, despite enjoying a home-heavy schedule. The Kickers lost 2-1 on the road against Penn FC last Tuesday and remain without a point on the road (0-4-0). This trend is a continuation from last year. The Kickers won only twice on the road in 2017 and finished in 14th place with only 8 wins, the worst total in Leigh Cowlishaw’s 17 seasons as head coach. It was also the first time since 2003 that Richmond failed to qualify for any form of league playoffs.

Richmond’s arrival comes at good time for Cincinnati, who has yet to lose to the Kickers in their short rivalry. FCC rode an early Djiby goal and a late Aodhan Quinn penalty kick to blank Richmond 2-0 at home last year. In their three matches prior to that, FCC and Richmond drew with the same result each time (1-1).

FCC will regain the services of Emmanuel Ledesma, who is returning from a yellow-card suspension. The team may also return quite a few players who rested on Wednesday during the current span of five games in 15 days. However, Cincinnati could be without defender Dekel Keinan, who left Wednesday’s game with an apparent groin strain.

Fast Facts

Here are five fast facts to get you ready for Saturday’s packed game at Nippert.

  • If you attend a Richmond game, you will rarely see a 0-0 score line. Despite taking only 33 shots on target, Richmond has scored 14 goals over 12 games and has only been shut out once. Every other team in the USL has been shut out at least two times.
  • However, Richmond has also given up 20 goals over the same span and has only 2 clean sheets of their own. Only Las Vegas, Seattle, Tulsa, and Atlanta have less clean sheets than the Kickers. Goalkeeper Travis Worra, who is on loan from D.C. United, has both shutouts for Richmond.
  • Richmond and Cincinnati are polar opposites when it comes to aggression on the pitch. Cincinnati is second in the USL in yellow cards (32) and fifth in fouls conceded (191). Richmond is near the bottom in both categories (18 yellow cards, 128 fouls conceded).
  • Although Richmond received Dane Kelly, last year’s Golden Boot winner, on loan from D.C. United, he has only appeared in 4 games and has scored only once. The team’s main threat has been NASL-veteran forward Brian Shriver, who leads the team in minutes, assists, shots on target, and chances created. Shriver and teammate Heviel Cordovés lead the team in goals (3) and shots (13).
  • FCC’s “hydra offense” is starting to spread out. With his goal on Wednesday, Russell Cicerone is FCC’s ninth player to score this year in 14 USL games. It took 25 games last year before FCC had gotten goals from nine different players (Sem de Wit vs. Ottawa on August 23rd).

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for complete coverage of FC Cincinnati vs Richmond on Saturday night.

FC Cincinnati 2 – 2 Bethlehem Steel FC: Wild Second Half Ends in a Deadlock

Graphic: Connor Paquette / Image: Ryan Meyer

On a momentous day when the United 2026 North American bid won the the right to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, FC Cincinnati returned home to Nippert Stadium. Prior to the match, Jeff Berding spoke to the media about the significance of potentially being a host city for the world’s largest event. Berding said, “Hundreds of thousands of people will be coming here…it’s going to be the whole world putting their eyeballs on Cincinnati.”

On the pitch two hours later, FCC found themselves in an all too familiar scenario falling behind 0-1 in the 29th minute. Derrick Jones found space in between the FCC defense and successfully converted his own blocked shot with a strike into the right corner of the net. The holding midfielder from Ghana proved a handful for the Orange & Blue the entire match. FC Cincinnati had their chances to equalize prior to the half time whistle, but none of their five first half shots on target found the net. Steel FC keeper John McCarthy was up to the challenge and made several fine saves to keep the visitors in front at half.

Tempers flared when Steel defender Olivier Mbaizo was called for a foul and lost his cool six minutes into the second half. After the initial foul, and with the match referee holding a yellow card in his hand, Mbaizo placed his hand on Jimmy McLaughlin’s face, then also appeared to make contact with Nazmi Albadawi’s head. The referee had no option than to brandish a straight red for Mbaizo’s out of control behavior.

With Steel FC down to ten men, FCC was able to dictate and prod play further. Finally, in the 66th minute Nazmi found the equalizer when he followed his own blocked shot and slotted the ball pass the previously impenetrable McCarthy. The goal was Nazmi’s second equalizer this season versus the squad from Bethlehem. Then the goals started to rain down on Nippert. Less than 90 seconds later and the smoke still clearing from the first FCC goal, bourgeoning fan favorite Russell Cicerone was able to score his first Orange & Blue goal when he headed home an in-swinging cross from Blake Smith.

Unfortunately, the Steel FC players did not lay down on the road.They took the ensuing kick off, rushed down the pitch and immediately equalized to knot the game at 2-2. The 22,407 in attendance, and the entire squad, looked stunned. Although FCC continued to press until the end, they were unable to find the winner and were forced to settle for a draw. While at half time the draw would have been a welcomed result, it felt like a loss in many ways.

Final Score: FC Cincinnati 2 – 2 Bethlehem Steel FC

Key Events

29′ – GOAL – BST – Derrick Jones
51′ – YELLOW CARD – BST – Olivier Mbaizo
52′ – RED CARD – BST – Olivier Mbaizo (violent conduct)
66′ – GOAL – CIN – Nazmi Albadawi
68′- GOAL – CIN – Russell Cicerone (assist by Blake Smith)
69′ – GOAL – BST – Fabian Herbers (assist Michee Ngalina)
86′ – YELLOW CARD – BST – Herbers

Match Notes

Alan Koch switched out seven players from the side that beat North Carolina FC last Saturday. An injury to Dekel Keinan during the initial Steel FC goal forced Koch to make a first half substitute with Forrest Lasso replacing the captain. Koch also switched out Emery Welshman with Danni König in the 64th minute.

FC Cincinnati’s home form has not matched their success on the road. The draw brings the Orange & Blue’s home record to 2-2-2, as compared to 6-1-1 away from Nippert. The squad remains in first place in the Eastern Conference with 27 points after 14 games. Louisville City sits 4 points behind, but with three games in hand.

Corben Bone regained the team lead in minutes played with 1,145 minutes. He also leads the team in regular season starts (12) and matches played (13) this season.

FCC was without creative spark Emmanuel Ledesma this match due to the club’s third suspension due to yellow card accumulation this season. The attack was still able to pepper the Steel FC defense with 26 total shots, ten of these in target.

Starting XI

Welshman (64′ König)
McLaughlin – Albadawi – Cicerone
Bone – Walker
Smith – Keinan (36′ Lasso) – de Wit – Bahner

What’s Next?

The final match of a 5-in-15 day stretch comes to a conclusion Saturday as the Orange & Blue meet the Richmond Kickers at home. The Kickers lost 1-2 to Penn FC last night and currently sit in 14th place with a 4-7-1 record and 13 points.

FCC will enjoy a ten-day respite after the Richmond match, until they visit Toronto FC II on Wednesday, June 27th. Following their visit north, FCC will play seven of their next eight USL matches at home.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for continuing coverage of another busy week of action for FC Cincinnati.

North Carolina FC 0 – 2 FC Cincinnati: The Orange & Blue Blank the Dead Whales

FC Cincinnati returned to USL league play by blanking North Carolina FC 2-0. FCC is now 6-1-1 on the road and has secured four clean sheets away from Nippert this season.

North Carolina 6.9_Match Recap.png
Graphic: Connor Paquette / Image: JES Photography

FC Cincinnati continued their torrid road pace by blanking North Carolina FC 2-0 in Cary, NC on Saturday. This is FCC’s fourth clean sheet on the road this season; the third by Evan Newton in nine starts. FCC moves to 26 points (8-3-2 record) with the win and solidifies their Eastern Conference leadership position. They are now 8-1-2 against anyone not named Louisville City.

The “Dead Whales” from North Carolina FC played a livelier match than three weeks ago and out-shot FCC 20 to 12. However, the Orange & Blue were able to strike fifty percent of their shots on target, while NCFC could only place twenty-five percent of their shots on frame. NCFC pushed the festivities over the first 26 minutes. Fortunately, a hydration break was called, allowing FCC to regroup and climb back into the match.

In the 37th minute Russell Cicerone, making his first USL start of the season, created the opening highlight for FC Cincinnati. He beat one defender on the dribble, then cut the ball inside firing a bullet on goal. North Carolina FC’s Greek keeper, Alex Tambakis, made a fine save but his punch went straight into the air. Danish forward Danni König was in perfect position salivating to get his head on his sixth tally of the season and 17th overall. Danni is now FC Cincinnati’s all-time leading goal-scorer, moving one ahead of Sean Okoli and Djiby. Here is the history making moment.

The second half started in a similar fashion with North Carolina FC pressing and searching for the equalizer. The Orange & Blue absorbed pressure most of the second half before they found a second. Except . . . the offside flag was raised and Emery Welshman, who entered the match two minutes earlier, had a goal disallowed. FCC found their two goal cushion three minutes later when fellow second-half substitute Jimmy McLaughlin put his name on the score sheet. He cleaned up some fine work by Nazmi Albadawi and Welshman, finding the back of the net.

Although the glamour always goes to the goal scorers, special mention must go to the defense for securing the win. Evan Newton made save-after-save and the entire back line helped to deliver the clean sheet. Lasso and Barrett were especially good in the middle of defense deflecting, clearing, and heading out any enemy foray. This center-back duo now has four wins in four attempts. FCC’s depth at this position has proved vital to the team’s success this season.

Final Score: North Carolina FC 0 – 2 FC Cincinnati

Key Events

26′ – YELLOW CARD – CIN – Emmanuel Ledesma
37′ – GOAL – CIN – Danni König
52′ – YELLOW CARD – CIN – Danni König
72′ – YELLOW CARD – CIN – Justin Hoyte
87′ – GOAL – CIN – Jimmy McLaughlin

Match Notes

Alan Koch continued to use the club’s deep roster to his advantage. Although Corben Bone was initially listed as a starter, Michael Lahoud instead joined Richie Ryan in the defensive midfield. The biggest roster move though came in the form of Russell Cicerone getting a start. His eagerness to take on defenders and ability to get wide on the right impacted the match mightily.

FCC will be without playmaker Emmanuel Ledesma for the next match as he picked up his fifth yellow of the season in the first half. What appeared to be a normal FCC corner kick led to fan behavior that Manu took offense to. When the corner kick was not taken in a timely fashion, the match official brandished a yellow card for delay. Justin Hoyte also picked up a yellow card for time wasting in the second half when he hesitated on a throw-in.

Starting XI

König (82′ Welshman)
Ledesma – Albadawi – Cicerone (McLaughlin 73′)
Lahoud (61′ Bone) – Ryan
Smith – Lasso – Barrett – Hoyte

What’s Next?

FC Cincinnati returns home for two matches next week at Nippert Stadium. First, they face an in-form Bethlehem Steel FC squad on Wednesday. That match is followed by the season’s first contest against the Richmond Kickers on Saturday, June 16th.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more analysis of Saturday’s result and continued coverage of another busy week for FC Cincinnati.

North Carolina 6.9_Match Recap

UC 0 – 1 FC Cincinnati: Narrow Preseason Win at Snowy Gettler

A recap and match notes from FC Cincinnati’s 1-0 win over the University of Cincinnati Mens’ Soccer team on Wednesday, March 7th at Gettler Stadium.

Graphic Design by Connor Paquette

FC Cincinnati defeated the University of Cincinnati Mens’ Soccer Team by a 1-0 scoreline among flurries and frigid temperatures at Gettler Stadium on Wednesday. Russell Cicerone scored the lone goal of the contest in the 42nd minute.

The build-up to the goal came down FCC’s left side, as Daniel Haber found himself free with the ball and space to attack. He picked his target with a curling cross, finding the head of Cicerone who was making a delayed run into the box behind striker Tomi Ameobi. The firm nod beat the keeper to the right to give FC Cincinnati the lead going into halftime.

The Orange and Blue dominated for large portions of the match as expected, but had a difficult time turning opportunities into goals. The UC men played admirably overall, defending well in the first half and creating several good chances on the counter in the second.

Despite the chilly circumstances, a good crowd packed into the cozy confines of Gettler to take in the midweek preseason action.

Assistant coach Yoann Damet was on the sidelines for this one, with coach Koch out of town working on his USSF A license. Damet had the following to say after the match.

“The most important was to get minutes for everybody and to do a good review of the roster. We are happy, no injuries, it was a good game. We were able to see what we wanted during those 90 minutes. Conditions were tough, we have the cold especially, but I think it was a good exercise for us ten days before the start of the USL season.”

Key Events

42′ – GOAL – Russell Cicerone (assist Daniel Haber)

Photos via JES Photography

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Match Notes

FCC remains undefeated in preseason play. They now have four wins and two draws from six matches played. Nine players out of the starting eleven played for 70 minutes and led 1-0 when the second team rotated in.

Starting XI 
Haber – Albadawi (McLaughlin 45′) – Cicerone
Halfhill – Seymore (Walker – 45′)
Josu – De Wit – Barrett – Bahner

Jimmy McLaughlin replaced Albadawi at the start of the second half. Jimmy took up his customary position on the left wing, Haber flipped to the right wing, and Cicerone played the CAM role until the 70th-minute substitutions.

Second XI
McLaughlin – Bone – Ledesma
Walker – Ryan
Smith – Lasso – Keinan – Hoyte

Lance Laing, Danni König, and Spencer Richey were all key absentees for this match.

What’s Next?

Alan Koch’s men now turn their attention to Saturday’s match, which is the last of the 2018 preseason. It’s the return leg of a pair of preseason matches with Sacramento Republic FC that started back in March of 2017. You may recall that a late Harrison Delbridge equalizer gave FC Cincinnati a 2-2 draw in this preseason fixture last year. Saturday’s contest will also give FC Cincinnati fans their first look at the new diamond-clad home jersey and will be played in the familiar confines of Nippert Stadium.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of the 2018 preseason.