Harrisburg City Islanders 1-1 FC Cincinnati: Four Numbers That Mattered

After 90-plus minutes of futility, a late goal from Jimmy McLaughlin rescues FC Cincinnati at the whistle.

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Credit: Harrisburg City Islanders

FC Cincinnati walked into FNB Field with a slight bit of momentum on their side from two positive home results and ten days of rest, but the ghosts of past away games still haunt them, needing a near-death goal from Jimmy McLaughlin in the 97th minute to escape from Harrisburg with a 1-1 tie.

Coach Alan Koch ran out a different-looking group than expected, resting up defensemen Matt Bahner and Austin Berry, while Corben Bone stayed in Cincinnati for the expected birth of his first child. The team welcomed the return of Aodhan Quinn and Kadeem Dacres to the Starting XI, sporting a 4-4-1-1 formation to shake the team’s poor away form.

The heavier defensive set worked well to keep Harrisburg off the board in the first half, but that focus on defense left the team threadbare in the front attack. The City Islanders managed to control the ball with 54% possession in the first 45 minutes, firing two shots on net, while Cincy could only manage corner kicks but no shots on net. The team also lost Tyler Polak again early in the game, as a hard tackle appeared to reaggravate an ankle injury in the 13th minute. Polak would be subbed off for Josu soon after.

Harrisburg came out of the locker room on fire after halftime, challenging Mitch Hildebrandt twice before the third chance—a left-footed strike by Jonathan Mendoza in the 52nd minute—beat the keeper’s left side for a 1-0 lead.

However, once given the lead, Harrisburg opted to take their foot off the gas. Djiby and Andrew Wiedeman were subbed onto the pitch in the second half, and both appeared to revitalize the team, helping get five shots off before Harrisburg showed any signs of fight. Harrisburg goalkeeper Brandon Miller was on point though and kept FCC off the board.

It appeared that Harrisburg had enough gasoline in the tank, but fouls and delays stretched the four minutes of stoppage time into six. Just before the whistle blew, Djiby deflected a long pass from Sem de Wit into the path of Jimmy McLaughlin, who managed to split the defense and pop the ball past a sprawling Miller, rescuing FC Cincinnati at the last possible minute.

The tie gives FC Cincinnati a round 9-9-9 record (36 points) and puts them in 7th place, while Harrisburg (7-7-14, 28 points) remains in 13th place, still barely in the hunt for the playoffs. Cincinnati returns this Saturday for their final home game of the season against a New York Red Bulls II squad before heading on the road for the last four.

Four Numbers That Mattered

3 – Number of goals that Jimmy McLaughlin has scored against his former USL squad. No wonder they call him “Pennsylvania Messi”—Jimmy Mac loves to score against teams from the Keystone State. Half of his 10 goals with FCC have come against Pittsburgh, Bethlehem, and Harrisburg over the past two years, and all three against the City Islanders have been clutch, coming at the 81st minute or later.

63’ – The minute that Djiby was substituted into the game. For much of the first half, Danni König was bottled up and frustrated by the Harrisburg back line, only managing a total of 15 touches in 63 minutes, but after his substitution was completed, Djiby managed to get 21 touches in only 34 minutes on the pitch, adding muscle and height to the front attack before deflecting a pass to McLaughlin for the tying score.

7 – The number of formations that Coach Alan Koch has used this season. The 4-4-1-1 formation was the first formation with a 4-man back line since June, and the lack of offensive spark in the first half showed that the team was not used to the new pattern. If Koch is going to get his team deep into the playoffs, he must figure out how this team operates best with an optimal Starting XI while resting up Berry, Bahner, and now Polak for a playoff run.

292 minutes – FC Cincinnati’s goalless streak on the road in the USL before their last-minute goal. While fans and pundits will remember FCC for their shutout streak during the 2017 U.S. Open Cup, their scoreless streak on the road is best forgotten. During their goalless streak over the past three-plus games, FCC gave up eleven consecutive away goals. While a 62-goal season is far out of reach, FCC must use their last four away games of the season to learn how to win again on the road, something they have only done twice all season.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more news, analysis, and color commentary on FC Cincinnati.

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FC Cincinnati 1 – 0 Toronto FC II: König Strikes Again

Talking points and match photos from FC Cincinnati’s Memorial Day weekend victory over Toronto FC II at Nippert Stadium.

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FC Cincinnati earned a 1-0 win over Toronto FC II in a Memorial Day weekend clash at Nippert Stadium. Danni König scored a headed goal in the 18th minute to earn the victory. The goal provided a second straight USL win, and a third consecutive victory in all competitions for Alan Koch’s team. 18,214 fans looked-on as a tightly-contested match was played under hot and humid conditions in Cincinnati. FC Cincinnati also recognized hometown heroes as part of the match, including local veterans, police, firefighters, and first responders.

Match Photos

Images of Saturday’s victory against Toronto FC II are provided courtesy of Ryan Meyer Photography. When browsing the gallery below for any given image, a high resolution version can be found by scrolling down and clicking “View Full Size.”

Talking Points

Danni Does It Again 

Danni König is making quite an impact for the Orange and Blue since arriving from OKC Energy on May 10th. He’s scored three goals in as many matches, and he’s provided the game winner in the past two. The Danish forward has been an inspired acquisition in the absence of Djiby Fall, who has one more match to serve on his six game suspension.

König scored his goal in the immediate aftermath of an injury. He suffered a cut over his left eye in a collision with Toronto’s Brandon Onkony. He raced back on the field after receiving treatment to get on the end of Tyler Polak’s curling cross.

Hard Fought Victory

Toronto FC II, despite their poor record, have turned in some solid defensive performances this season including five clean sheets. They limited FC Cincinnati to 7 total shots on Saturday and just a few clear chances outside of König’s goal.

Toronto FC II had opportunities to equalize and were unlucky not to score in the 63rd minute when Ryan Telfer’s one-on-one strike past a charging Mitch Hildebrandt hit the post. Tyler Polak also cleared a would-be equalizer off the line in the second half.

It wasn’t a dominant performance over the last place team in the Eastern Conference, but it was a win, a clean sheet, and represents three important points earned.

Tyler Polak Was Everywhere

FC Cincinnati’s left back had a stand-out performance in this match. He had 71 touches, more than any other FC Cincinnati player. He completed 42 passes with an impressive 90.5% passing accuracy. Polak also provided the assist for König’s goal and saved a would-be goal with his afore-mentioned clearance.

He was humble in his post-match comments when discussing his assist, redirecting the credit to his teammate Danni König.

“It felt good to get the confidence that came with that assist, but credit to Danni for him securing the goal. It’s about right positioning and right timing. It’s also important to have depth in the group and Danni was a great addition.”

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The win elevates FC Cincinnati to fourth place in the East on fifteen points, eight points behind conference leaders the Charleston Battery. The Orange and Blue have played eleven matches and are currently tied on points with both Louisville City FC and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

There’s a busy week ahead as the team will play two matches in two different competitions. They have a derby match on Wednesday against Louisville City FC in the US Open Cup. They’ll then face a challenging road trip to Rochester next Saturday in USL league play.

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