Charleston Battery down FC Cincinnati in Season Opener

FC Cincinnati lost their season opener to the Charleston Battery 2-1 in Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston’s Justin Portillo scored the deciding goal and assisted on the other in a Man of the Match performance.

Djiby Fall scored the lone Cincinnati goal in the 58’, heading in a corner from Andrew Wiedeman. Charleston’s Forest Lasso scored the first goal and picked up the only booking of the match for a foul on Wiedeman.

On a night where they dominated possession, poor finishing doomed Cincinnati. FCC hit 14 shots, but only got five on target. Only two were put on target in the second half, including the goal. Many seemed to be off target the moment they were hit and didn’t trouble the Charleston keeper. If this issue is corrected Cincinnati will be a dangerous team to watch and should be able to score quite a few goals.

The defense was shaky for parts of the game. Charleston was able to exploit the flanks and make runs into the box and create chances. The big moment coming when Austin Berry made an ill advised sliding challenge from behind in the box giving up a penalty. Harrison Delbridge, on the bright side, was able to make a great sliding challenge to stop a one-on-one chance with the keeper in the first half. It looked a lot like some of the tackles he made last year to stop one-on-ones.

Five new faces made their debuts tonight: Matt Bahner, Kadeem Dacres, Fall, Daryl Fordyce and Adohan Quinn. Fordyce and Quinn were able to make impacts most of the game. Fordyce had a few chances and good passes, but wasn’t able to get his best chance on target, a diving header after a misplayed free kick. Quinn has made himself the main free kick taker, putting one on target from 20 yards out.

Summary

Cincinnati came out of the gate controlling the vast majority of possession during the first 15’. Fall took the first shot of the year with a volley that was way over. A yellow card came in the 8’ to Charleston’s Forest Lasso who fouled Wiedeman 20 yards out. The following free kick was put on frame from Quinn but saved comfortably by Tambakis.

Charleston was able to create few good chances, but they ultimately came to nothing. Cincinnati was still in control creating a few good chances. Their best being a header by Fordyce that came off a poorly handled free kick by the Charleston defense.

Charleston broke the deadlock off a Lasso header from the corner. Justin Portillo put in a great ball to the six-yard box that Lasso headed in. The following few minutes saw Charleston create a handful of chances including a dangerous free kick that was caught by Hildebrandt.

To start the second half Cincinnati was able to get a really good chance off a corner where Harrison Delbridge was able to put a header on target, but was cleared by a defender. Fall equalized for Cincinnati in the 58’ with a header off a corner from Wiedeman. In the resulting minutes Cincinnati took control of the game.

In the 68’ Austin Berry conceded a penalty, fouling Neveal Hackshaw in the box from behind. Hildebrandt saved the penalty, but was unable to stop the rebound that Portillo put in to give Charleston the lead once again. Again after the goal Charleston was able to keep pressure on Cincinnati, not letting them try to get a goal.

Cincinnati brought on attackers Dacres and Omar Cummings to try to get a goal in the 80’. Two long shots and an off balance volley were all that could be mustered. There was a small sliver of hope with a penalty shout late when the ball bounced up to hit a Charleston defender’s arm, but waved off by the referee.

Next Up

Cincinnati’s next match is away at 7p.m. on April 1 against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Highmark Stadium along the Ohio River. Cincinnati had two wins and a draw last year against Pittsburgh including a win and draw in Pittsburgh.

Final Thoughts

This team is far from where they will be at the end of the season. Dominating possession and getting the ball in dangerous positions is good but, the finishing needs work. Don’t be upset at one loss from a playoff team last year even though it would have been nice to get revenge for knocking Cincinnati out.

I’m very excited about the addition of Djiby Fall and his ability to hold up the ball and get his head on it in the box. Also the more I see of Harrison Delbridge the more I like him. He is good on the ball and comes up big stopping one-on-one situations. My player of the year for last season looks to be in for another year.

The fan support for what is essentially a minor league team still amazes me. In every stadium Cincinnati plays there always seems to be at least a handful of fans wearing orange and blue.

Long John from the "Long John and DiTullio Soccer Show". Soccer enthusiast, huge Arsenal and AFC Wimbledon fan. Graduate of the University of Cincinnati with a degree in Operations Management.

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