Takeaways from FC Cincinnati’s friendly with Valencia

FC Cincinnati lost their international friendly match with Valencia C.F. 2-0 on Monday. Here are the takeaways from the match:

Not The Event It Was Last Year

Last season’s summer international friendly was the event of the summer; this year’s not so much.

Crystal Palace brought a sold out crowd of 35,061, which is still the record for FC Cincinnati for a single match. This match also brought the pedigree of England’s Premier League that is by far the most popular league in America. It is very accessible through NBC, NBC Sports Network and NBC Live Extra, their streaming platform where every EPL match was broadcast live. Crystal Palace made the FA Cup Final last year against Manchester United, which definitely didn’t hurt the buzz around this match.

Takeaways from FC Cincinnati's friendly with Valencia

Photo of the crowd during the second half.

Valencia comes from Spain a league that is only broadcast on BEIN in the US. BEIN is a channel that is included in extra cable packages and tough to find for casual soccer fans.

Valencia has also had a few down years since their highs of the early 2000s. But what a set of highs those were, two Champions League Finals and a pair of La Liga titles are nothing to skip past. The 12th place finish last season gave them their first finish outside the top half of the table since 1986.

Putting the match on a Monday night didn’t help and kept a handful of fans away. This season the biggest moments of the season could have already happened with the U.S. Open Cup matches. In their match against Columbus, Djiby scored an incredible header to give them the victory. Mitch Hildebrandt stopped three penalties as Cincinnati advanced over Chicago. With three extra Open Cup matches and the U.S. Women’s National Team friendly in September, which has already sold more than 20,000 tickets, there is only so much disposable income soccer fans in Cincinnati have to go around.

At the end of the day this was a good event but not the event of the summer like last season.

Omar Cummings Retirement

 Omar Cummings made his final appearance as a professional soccer player tonight. In a fantastic ceremony at halftime surrounded by family, his wife and daughter, and General Manager Jeff Berding and Owner Carl Linder III he was given a video tribute and framed jersey. As he was subbed off in the 73 minute he was given a standing ovation from the crowd. Every player and staff member was standing as he exited the field.

Cincinnati is losing one of their inaugural signees as a player, but he will be moving into the front office working with the development academy and community involvement.

Backup Keepers

Granted, two goals were scored tonight but we saw some very good play from Dallas Jaye and Dan Williams, FCC’s second and third keepers. Jaye made a great save by jumping to grab a ball that was fired above his head and made a diving save on a shot from Simone Zaza that was offside. He gave up one goal but there was nothing he could have done in the one on one situation he was put in.

Williams had one good save tonight but gave up an open net goal after being called up for an offensive corner. To his credit he did hustle from box to box after the ball was cleared, but he never had a chance to stop Zaza before it was tapped in.

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Cincinnati loses to Valencia, says goodbye to Cummings

FC Cincinnati lost an international friendly with La Liga side Valencia CF 2-0. Nando and Simone Zaza both scored to give their team the victory. An impressive 23,114 showed up to witness the special event at Nippert Stadium.

Nando scored on a beautiful ball over Cincinnati’s back line from Dani Parejo and buried a shot into the side netting. There was little the back line or keeper Dallas Jaye could do to stop the perfect run and flawless strike. Zaza scored into an open net in stoppage time after Cincinnati brought everyone up for a corner in an attempt to tie the game.

Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch commented on the match, “It’s not very often when you lose a game it’s okay to smile. I think we all hate losing but tonight was more than winning or losing. It was obviously a great experience for our entire group.” He continued, “We managed to get some good minutes for guys that played a lot and managed to get some minutes for guys who haven played that much.”

Valencia Head Coach Marcelino García Toral said through a translator, “It was a great experience playing here before and during the match. It was a great experience with a great atmosphere.”

The retirement of Omar Cummings was an exceptional spectacle that coincided with the match. He was given a framed jersey during a halftime ceremony with his family and some front office staff. He subbed in to start the second half and played 28 minutes before being subbed off to a standing ovation from the Nippert Crowd.

Commenting on his final match Cummings said, “It doesn’t feel like it has quite hit me yet.” On going out in Cincinnati, “The opportunity to go out in front of my adopted home, in front of this fan base, community. Against a team like Valencia, it was awesome.”

Cincinnati started the match with a lot of possession as Valencia sat back in a very defensive formation. The first good chance of the match came from Cincinnati’s Aodhan Quinn’s long looping volley that was parried away by keeper Neto before sliding under the bar into the top corner in the 13 minute.

Starting keeper Mitch Hildebrandt was brought off in the 31 minute for backup Dallas Jaye. Jaye had to endure the onslaught that Valencia brought late in the first half. First he caught a hard shot from Alvaro Negrado that was placed directly above him but the ball could have easily slipped through his hands. Then he made a diving save to stop a shot from Zaza but it didn’t count due to Zaza being offside. Lastly Zaza was able to chip one over Jaye but again couldn’t stay onside.

The second half started with two changes for Cincinnati including bringing Cummings on for his final appearance. He drew a yellow card in the 48 minute from Aymen Abdennour who took him down from behind while running down the line. He came off in the 73 minute to a standing ovation from the crowd and his teammates.

Valencia got onto the score sheet in the 62 minute after an amazing long ball from Dani Parejo went over the back line of Cincinnati, landing perfectly in stride with a streaking Nando who took a couple touches and buried it into the side netting.

After the goal came mass substitutions from both teams. Then good up and down play was had, but very little in good scoring chances for Cincinnati.

At the end of stoppage time Cincinnati earned a corner and sent everyone up to try to equalize, including keeper Dan Williams. The ball was cleared and ended up to a wide-open Zaza who took a few touches in the open field before tapping into an open net. Williams did give chance the entire way but was unable to catch up to the striker.

News and Notes

Omar Cummings appeared in 20 matches for Cincinnati and scored three goals in his time here. He was a regular starter until hurting his knee last season in an ugly challenge causing his knee to hyper-extend. Now moving into a role with the front office with the development academy and community involvement.

The only Cincinnati players not to appear tonight were Harrison Delbridge, Justin Hoyte and Josu. Josu had knee swelling while both Delbridge and Hoyte have been struggling for fitness due to the congested match schedule. Delbridge also just came back from an abdominal injury.

On the artificial turf Toral commented he was happy no one was injured. Wilfried Zaha left in a walking boot after last season’s friendly with Crystal Palace.

This was Valencia’s second game on a two game tour of North America. The New York Cosmos hosted them in Saskatchewan, Canada in front of a little more than 15,000 with New York winning 2-0.

Koch also stated, “Valencia is an amazing team, there is a reason they are the club they are, there is a reason they play in the league they do. You could see their team was a little rusty, it’s their preseason that’s to be expected. But you could also see some individual moments that were sheer brilliance.”

Next Up

This Saturday the Rochester Rhinos come to town for a USL matchup at 7:00 pm. Rochester currently sits in seventh in the Eastern Conference (6-3-7) with 25 points. In their first match of the season Rochester squeezed out a 1-0 win off a goal from Bradley Kamdem Fewo.

Final Thoughts

A good showing compared to what I feel should have happened against a top La Liga team that played their starters for most of the match. Even though they were in preseason, Valencia had their moments and they outclassed Cincinnati. Credit the defense and positioning of the back line and wing backs because they held firm and didn’t allow easy shots and passes in the final third were hard to come by.

The best player on the pitch tonight was Dani Parejo. He was all over the pitch and made more than a handful of balls over the top of the Cincinnati defense and it Zaza could have stayed onside he would have had two or three assists.

Hosting Crystal Palace last season and Valencia this season are huge grabs. Along with the home playoff win last season and U.S. Open Cup run this year hosting Columbus and Chicago the crowds have been coming out and given something to cheer about from their players. This has been a promising start for Cincinnati and bodes well for an MLS call up if the stadium situation gets resolved. It is hard to remember that FC Cincinnati is less than two years old.

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Cincinnati Takes Down Harrisburg After Two Delays

FC Cincinnati won a twice-delayed match against the Harrisburg City Islanders 3-0 at Nippert Stadium. Djiby Fall, Danni Konig and Jimmy McLaughlin scored the three goals for Cincinnati. An impressive 18,334 were in attendance tonight.

Djiby scored the opener after a bad back pass from Mohammed Abass collecting the ball at the top of the box, cutting back and curling a shot into the far corner giving the keeper no chance. Djiby assisted on Konig’s goal with a great defender splitting pass letting Konig slide it right though the keeper’s legs to secure the second goal.

McLaughlin scored a late goal after collecting a pass at the top of the box and beautifully cutting into space dead center and sliding the ball into the bottom corner.

Coach Koch commented on the match, “Very happy to get the three points. Very happy with our players reactions with the delay, don’t think we were good for the first 27 minutes. We adjusted a couple things. I think the players response was absolutely brilliant, allowed to get ourselves into the game.”

Cincinnati played very poorly for the first 27 minutes before the first delay creating more chances than Harrisburg but the best was a shot from outside the box that Mitch Hildebrandt made a good reaction on to keep it scoreless in the seventh minute. But the possession was mostly in their half with a lot of misplayed passes. Defensively, crosses from the sides were allowed to get to their target but luckily Cincinnati wasn’t punished. In the 27’ lightning in the area caused a 71-minute delay.

After the first delay things turned around as Cincinnati came back with Djiby scoring his 11 of the season on the bad back pass from Abass in the 32’. A few chances came close in the minutes after the goal but no second goal.

In the second half Cincinnati continued to play well. Coming close to scoring in the 59’ when a great double save from Harrisburg’s Brandon Miller denied Djiby and Andrew Wiedeman.

Konigj doubled the lead with a silky smooth finish between the keeper’s legs in the 69’. A defense splitting pass from Djiby set up the goal.

Kyle Grieg made his debut for Cincinnati in the 77’ replacing Djiby. Grieg is on loan from Coach Koch’s old club the Vancouver Whitecaps until the end of the season.

Unfortunately in the 84’ lightning in the area stopped play again but this time for only 30 minutes. Right out of the delay sub McLaughlin collected a pass from Kenny Walker and found open space before a cool finish into the bottom corner to ice the match and three points.

News and Notes

Cincinnati moves to fifth in the Eastern Conference with 30 points (8-6-6). Harrisburg came into tonight with 10 points from their last five matches. A very good win in the quest to the top four and a home playoff match.

New signing Kevin Schindlr was on the bench tonight but did not make his debut. Sem de Wit the third addition for Cincinnati may play on Monday in the friendly.

Djiby scored his 11 goal in the USL and 14 across all competitions. He also provided his first assist as a Cincinnati player.

Jimmy McLaughlin scored his second goal of the season, his first was May 6 against Richmond. He has come so close in recent matches and finally one found the back of the net.

Most of the fans stayed after the first weather delay, but after the second there were just a smattering of fans were left.

Up Next

Cincinnati next plays Valencia C.F. in an international friendly on Monday July 24 at 7:30. Valencia is one of the top teams in the La Liga, the top Spanish division, last winning in 2003-04 season and making the Champions League final in 2000 and 2001. You can read more about that matchup here.

This Saturday the Rochester Rhinos come to town for a USL matchup at 7:00 pm. Rochester currently sits in seventh in the Eastern Conference (6-3-7) with 25 points. In their first match of the season Rochester squeezed out a 1-0 win off a goal from Bradley Kamdem Fewo.

Final Thoughts

Whatever the adjustments made during the first weather delay won this game for Cincinnati. After looking horrible for the first 25 minutes they came back after the delay and took over the match.

Austin Berry had a good match tonight. He covered well for Justin Hoyte who on the left of the three centrebacks Cincinnati had. Hoyte was the player picked on for crosses from the right and he was lucky not to give up a goal. He needs to improve on his abilty to deal with crosses if he wasnts to keep Paul Nicholson from taking his place in the starting 11 or move back out to his left wing back position.

Also a big thank to Jason of Our Kettle Runneth Over for the bag of kettle corn during the first weather delay.

Cincinnati Pushes Past Richmond 2-0

FC Cincinnati beat the Richmond Kickers 2-0 on a warm evening in front of 21,769. An early goal from Djiby Fall and a late converted penalty by Aodhan Quinn led Cincinnati to victory.

Tonight’s win moves Cincinnati up to sixth place with 24 points (6-6-6) and three points behind the Tampa Bay Rowdies for the fourth position and a home playoff match.

Djiby scored in the third minute after an incredible ball from Kenny Williams that landed perfectly in front of the box. Djiby just set his feet and fired it past the keeper. A straight red card in the 87’ from Richmond’s Fred Owusu Sekyre after he threw an elbow into the face of Aodhan Quinn gave Cincinnati a man advantage. Then a stoppage time penalty due to a handball gave Quinn the opportunity to put Cincinnati up by two and ice the match.

Coach Koch commented on the match, “Great result for us, I was very happy with the performance. Scary game because when you are on top as much as were today, a lot of the time it takes one moment and before you know it you slipped up.”

Cincinnati completely dominated from the kickoff through the halftime whistle. Djiby put a corner just over the bar in the second minute and then gave his team the lead in the third.

After the goal Cincinnati controlled the ball for long periods of time and kept Richmond’s chances to a minimum. Their best chance of the first half came from a free kick from Raul Gonzalez from 23 yards out but the shot hit the wall and was cleared successfully by Cincinnati.

Jimmy McLaughlin had a fantastic chance after a good long ball from Paul Nicholson sent McLaughlin into the box where the shot was directly at the keeper. Unfortunately for Jimmy he went near post, if he goes far post Andrew Wiedeman could potentially have tapped it home.

Djiby almost got his second of the night hitting the crossbar with a thunderous shot but he was ruled offside late in the first.

The second half started with much of the same from Cincinnati, absolute domination with chances being saved or just wide. McLaughlin put a curler on target that took a diving save from Richmond’s keeper Matt Turner.

Wiedeman put a shot on target but again right a Turner in the 52. Another good pass over the top of the defense pass from Walker set up the chance.

A few more good shots were taken from McLaughlin but like the rest there was no getting him a goal.

Then Cincinnati’s wheels fell off for an eight minute stretch when the ball was kept in their defensive third with a few shots coming dangerously close to going in after deflections. A handful of fouls allowed free kicks that were in dangerous areas luckily the Richmond shooters put them either into the wall or crossed poorly allowing half clearances to somewhat reset the defense.

Cincinnati was still shaky late bringing Wiedeman off for midfielder Quinn who had an almost immediate impact due to drawing the red card from Owusu Sekyere. Quinn was playing Owusu Sekyere physically in the midfield, fouling him at the center circle and as Owusu Sekyere he threw an elbow at Quinn’s face drawing a straight red from the official who was feet away from the incident.

After the red Cincinnati was able to salt away the time and got to ball into the Richmond box where a hard shot from Danni Konig was saved by the keeper, but redirected directly into the arm of Braeden Troyer for a penalty. Quinn stepped up and buried the penalty, but Konig was ruled to be in the box too early and it had to be retaken. Quinn then stepped back up and fired into the opposite corner of the net to seal the three points for Cincinnati.

News and Notes

Cincinnati has played 13 matches in 53 days due to their US Open Cup run. Coach Koch was very adamant to bring this up during the postgame press conference. He commented on this run being, “I’ve never been though that before, I’d somebody to tell me someone who has. To show the endurance and character our group showed to get through this is nothing short of remarkable.”

Djiby scored his ninth league goal tonight in 12 appearances. Bringing him to 12 across all competitions in 15 appearances continuing his impressive run of form.

Jimmy McLaughlin can’t buy a goal right now having great chances but he hasn’t scored since May 6. Coincidentally the last time Cincinnati played Richmond.

Final Thoughts

Cincinnati got a huge three points tonight after a disappointing trip to Florida with one point from two matches. Going to play Miami FC in the US Open Cup Quarterfinals will be one of the toughest challenges to date. The NASL leaders who trounced the second place San Francisco City FC 7-0 over the weekend.

Harrison Delbridge was the only starter missing tonight due to an injury. Justin Hoyte stepped in to the central defensive role and played well.

Kenny Walker is proving to be the solid rock in the midfield for Cincinnati, his passing was incredible putting three balls over the defense assisting Djiby with his goal and creating a great chance that McLaughlin couldn’t finish. He is a player that Coach Koch is happy to have back.

Cincinnati Advances Past Chicago On Penalties

FC Cincinnati beat the Chicago Fire 3-1 in a penalty shootout after playing 120 scoreless minutes in the Round of 16 of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Mitch Hildebrandt was the player of the match making 10 saves during the match and saving three of the four penalties. An electric 32,287 showed up to set Cincinnati record for a competitive match and the second highest attendance in the US Open Cup.

Hildebrandt reacted to many incredible shots over the course of the night. He made unbelievable saves throughout the match. He was also the beneficiary of a great performance from his backline, particularly Harrison Delbridge who made more than his fair share of tackles, winning six.

Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch commented on the match, “We managed a lot of moments, we grew as the game went along we got ourselves into it creating opportunities. I thought we could have gotten something in extra time, [referring to the Wiedeman no goal] unfortunately we didn’t.”

The Chicago players were visibly upset after the penalties. Their Head Coach Veljko Paunović commented after the match, “We now have to adjust our goals, we wanted to win this competition it is important for our club to get trophies and get trophies for our club.” He later commended Cincinnati saying, “Once again congratulations to FC Cincinnait, best of luck, win it.”

Cincinnati started out pressuring for the first few minutes charging the ball down after every pass but were able to possess little of the ball. Unable to keep that sort of pressure up they fell back and parked the bus and looking more like a back five at points with Josu and Bahner joining the back line.

Chicago had two chances just miss with shots from Brandon Vincent and Matt Polster both going wide. The back line of Cincinnati was incredible; making more than a handful of inch perfect tackles in the box to either block a shot or take the ball away at the last second. Cincinnati started pushing back late in the first half getting the only shot on target by way of Danni Konig. Each of the shots before Konig’s was from 30 or more yards out and off target never worrying the Chicago keeper.

The second half was much more of an even affair with Cincinnati able to possess the ball more and put their footprint onto the match. Bringing on Corben Bone and Jimmy McLaughlin shored up the defense and brought the pacey McLaughlin on the left hand side.

McLaughlin then got to work running up and down the field with fresh legs giving Cincinnati a target on every counter. He was sent into open field due to passes from Austin Berry and Kadeem Dacres both leading to shots on target with good saves from Chicago keeper Matthew Lampson.

A penalty shout in the second half was waved off by the referee. The ball looked to have gone off the hand of a Chicago defender in the box.

Bone had two chances right in injury time that could have ended the match with one shot being saved and another just missing the top corner. But, to extra time we went.

Extra time was a flurry of activity with both teams going for the win. Andrew Wiedeman scored a goal that was ruled out due to him being ruled offside, which replays showed he was onside. After the fans and the players settled down Chicago put a few shots on target prompting Hildebrandt to make a few more fantastic saves. McLaughlin had a chance to seal the match late but is shot was knocked away by the foot of Lampard.

In penalties Cincinnati sent up Aodhan Quinn who fired his first over the bar before Josu, Delbridge, and McLaughlin all sank theirs. Hildebrandt saved three of the four penalties he faced with World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger the only one to score.

News and Notes

Cincinnati has advanced to play against Miami FC (NASL) on July 12 in the US Open Cup Quarterfianals. Miami advanced after beating Atlanta FC (MLS) 3-2 tonight.

After the match Coach Koch praised the fans saying, “There is a lot of passion in our sport across the world, that was pretty unique tonight,” continuing, “The energy tonight was fantastic.” Mitch Hildebrandt echoed his coach’s sentiments saying, “This city is unbelievable.”

Koch also said they have practiced penalties and the takers were due to the stats that have been compiled from the practices.

Cincinnati’s leading scorer Djiby Fall did not play tonight due to a sprained ankle suffered in the St. Louis FC match over the weekend.

Corben Bone and Austin Berry both started their careers with Chicago and both played tonight.

Cincinnati won tonight with 30% possession to Chicago’s 70%. They also were barely outshot 26 to 20 by Chicago.

Moment By Moment

16’ Matt Bahner saves a ball off the line after a great play by Chicago. A great one, two pass before a cross across the face of goal was just missed by the sliding attacker and cleared out by Bahner.

18’ A a deflected shot from Chicago went just wide for a corner. Two great chances for Chicago within two minutes.

39’ Danni Konig beaks away and gets inside the box, his shot is saved by Matthew Lampson and bounced off Konig for a goal kick.

40’ Arturo Alverez takes a shot from outside the box that just bounced wide.

46’ Matt Polster picks up the first yellow of the match after smacking Josu in the face inadvertently

55’ Josu picks up Cincinnati’s first yellow card after kicking the ball away after he disagreed with a foul call.

63’ Mitch Hildebrandt diving save off the shot from Nikolic.

64’ Hildebrandt with another diving save to his right after a shot from Nikolic A cross just long finds the feet of Nikolic whose shot was saved. Harrison Delbridge was behind Hildebrandt on the line and may have stopped the shot.

73’ Nikolic picked up a yellow card after colliding with Marco Dominguez of Cincinnati. Dominguez was down for a minute and received treatment before continuing.

76’ Jimmy McLaughlin with a shot saved by Lampard. A counter started after a great tackle on Bastian Schewineteiger from Austin Berry who then cleared up to an open McLaughlin who charged down into the box and created a little space before putting it off the keeper.

86’ Hildebrandt with another diving save on a good shot from Michael de Leeuw. A careless pass from Justin Hoyte right to de Leeuw led to the chance.

90 + 1 Corben Bone with the breakaway shot just saved by Lampard again. A great pass from Jimmy McLaughlin set Bone free.

90 + 3 Corben Bone just missed the top corner with a shot from outside the box.

97’ A cross from Kadeem Dacres in front of goal was just tipped to safety by Polster before McLauhglin could get his foot on it. Another incredible chance for Cincinnati.

105’ Nikolic has a great chance but it is saved by another great play from Hildebrandt.

110’ Andrew Wiedeman puts a ball into the net but was ruled offside. He received a yellow card for taking his shirt off in celebration.

120’ McLaughlin let loose by a cross from Dacres, but the shot saved by Lampard. Another great ball from Dacres and the shot from McLaughlin almost went in again.

Penalties

Cincinnati – Aodhan Quinn: Missed, Over the bar

Josu: Goal

Harrison Delbridge: Goal

Jimmy McLaughlin: Goal

Chicago – Nikolic: Missed Saved

Arturo Alvarez: Missed Saved

Bastian Schweinsteiger : Goal

Junhino: Missed Saved

Final Thoughts

Tonight was an incredible statement for this city to gain an MLS bid. An impressive victory against one of the better teams in the MLS. 32,287 is quite the achievement and will open many eyes to the special thing this club and city have to offer the top league in America. Both Taylor Twellman and Julie Stewart-Binks made comments on the ESPN telecast complementing the fans and how intelligent they were.

In what looked to be a throw away match for Cincinnati due to starting four players from their great performance last Saturday against St. Louis, Cincinnati was able to get a great win. This shows the incredible depth that Cincinnati has and there are little excuses for not finding a way into the top four in the Eastern Conference for a home playoff game.

The backline tonight of Harrison Delbridge, Justin Hoyte, and Austin Berry was incredible. They closed down almost every attacker and outside of one bad pass from Hoyte were perfect playing the ball out of the back.

Cincinnati Knocks Off St. Louis

FC Cincinnati beat St. Louis FC 2-0 in a match that was wider than the score line. A St. Louis own goal early from AJ Cochran and a tap in from Danni Konig were enough to give Cincinnati all three points.

Total domination for Cincinnati with attacks coming from all sides. This was the best performance of the season with chances coming from all over the place with a total team performance. The passing was on and everything but the final ball was perfect. The first half very easily could have seen Cincinnati lead by three at the break.

Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch commented on the match, “It was a very good performance, the way we possessed the ball at times tonight was the best we possessed the ball all season long…very, very happy with the performance tonight.”

The own goal set the tone for the night after a great long ball from Corben Bone to Andrew Wiedeman whose shot was saved but trickled behind the keeper and the running Cochran kicked it into his own net. Setting up a bad night for the defender who also picked up a yellow card in the second half.

Cincinnati then went on a tear from then on in the first half attacking relentlessly from all sides. Jimmy McLaughlin was all over the field causing problems for the St. Louis backline all evening. He was unfortunate to not have scored in the first half hitting the far post with a laser. His night peaked when he made a perfect pass inside the six-yard box splitting the goalkeeper and a charging defender to allow Konig to tap it in.

The defense did a great job tonight with Mitch Hildebrandt only having to make one tough save tonight. Every other shot was right at him with only one coming from inside the box all night and it was a weak header.

Djiby Fall was unable to get on the score sheet after putting four past the keeper in his last outing against St. Louis. But, he did end up in the referee’s book with a yellow card after retaliating against Erick Cabalceta. Djiby and Cabalceta were both going for a ball along the sideline where Djiby was sent into a table in between the benches. Cabalceta pulled out of the play when he arrived at the sideline but Djiby’s momentum carried him into the table. Djiby was down for a minute after the play to receive treatment and would continue for 10 minutes. Cabalceta received a yellow card.

News and Notes

Cincinnati moves into sixth place in the Eastern Conference with the win bringing them up to 20 points on the season with a 5-5-5 record.

This is the third match using three central defenders amassing two wins and a draw.

The referee was generous tonight after being shoved by St. Louis’s Emir Alihodzic due to him being upset after a foul. A red card, or at least a yellow, should have been accessed and it wouldn’t be surprising if a suspension was accessed on Monday by the league.

20,125 was the attendance this evening. Another great crowd and it seems to be normal, good signs for Cincinnati and a potential MLS bid.

Next Up

Cincinnati hosts the Chicago Fire (MLS) in the Round of 16 of Lamar Hunt US Open Cup at Nippert Stadium at 8:00 pm. The game will also be televised on ESPN2, which is why the time changed from 7:00 to 8:00. This is the first ever meeting of the two sides. Chicago has won the US Open Cup four times, most recently in 2006.

Next Saturday Cincinnati will travel to Florida to play Orlando City B at 8:30 This will be the second meeting of the season between the teams with the first being a   2-0 Orlando victory at Nippert on May 13. Orlando currently sits in seventh in the Eastern Conference (5-6-4) with 19 points.

Moments of the Match

7’ Cincinnati took the lead off an own goal from St. Louis’s AJ Cochran. Andrew Wiedeman made a run behind the St Louis back line where Corben Bone played an incredible long ball that Wiedeman chested down and hit a poor shot off the keeper and Cochran kicked the ball right into the goal while running.

17’ Wiedeman put a great back heel pass back to a wide-open Corben Bone whose shot is right at the keeper. He had plenty of space and should have done better.

23’ A shot from the top of the box from St. Louis’s Erick Cabalceta forcing a good diving save from Mitch Hildebrandt.

30’ Octavio Guzman of St. Louis picked up the first caution of the match after taking down Bone.

44’ Kenny Walker played a great pass up to Jimmy McLaughlin after a great run into space. McLaughlin collected and fired a shot that ricocheted off the far post.

52’ Cabalceta picks up a yellow card after running Djiby Fall into the table between the benches. Djiby was down for a minute and received medical attention before being able to continue.

53’ Djiby went back at Cabalceta and sent him to the ground seconds after play resumed earning his team’s first yellow.

58’ A great interception by Tyler Polak led to a one on two for Cincinnati. He passed it over to Wiedeman but a defender who was able to chase him down and block his shot.

66’ Danni Konig taps home a pass from McLaughlin from a yard out. McLaughlin chased down a deflected shot from Walker and a great turn and pass from the left of the six-yard box is met by Konig for the tap in.

74’ Cochran picks up a yellow card for taking down Bone on a counter attack.

87’ St Louis picked up their fourth booking of the match by way of Wes Charpie taking down Konig on a counter attack.

Final Thoughts

The best performance all season leads to three much needed points. The three man back line is working extremely well and the movement in the midfield is excellent. Jimmy McLaughlin and Andrew Wiedeman both made great runs behind the back line creating one goal and having a shot off the post. They both look to be in the form they had last season which will be a problem for their future opponents. After 15 matches the system is in place and the results should start trending upwards.

Now on to the Chicago Fire this Wednesday in what will surely be an incredible match at Nippert and draw around 30,000 and ESPN2 will be broadcasting the game.

Cincinnati Hosting Chicago In US Open Cup

FC Cincinnati will host the Chicago Fire of the MLS in the US Open Cup fifth round on June 28 at 7:00 pm at Nippert Stadum. The winner will face the winner of Miami FC (NASL) and Atlanta United (MLS).

FC Cincinnati against the Columbus Crew on June 14, 2017

Cincinnati beat the Columbus Crew in a thrilling 1-0 victory where Djiby Fall headed in his ninth goal of the season and his third in Open Cup play to advance through to the fifth round. Djiby has scored every goal for Cincinnati in Cup play while the defense has kept three clean sheets.

Cincinnati hosted AFC Cleveland (NPSL) in the second round and Louisville City (USL) in the third round. Cincinnati had to play 120 minutes before scoring in the 117 minute with a header by Djiby to beat Cleveland. Against Louisville, Djiby smashed a corner home in the 49 minute in a hotly contested match against two local rivals that ended with a rough handshake between both head coaches.

Chicago was given a bye until fourth round due to being in the MLS. They beat St. Louis FC (USL) 1-0 off an incredible Luis Solignac goal.

This will be the first time Cincinnati has played in the fifth round of the Open Cup after being knocked out in their inaugural season in the third round by the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Chicago has a long history of success in the Open Cup winning it four times, most recently in 2006, and being one of six teams to capture it four times according to their official website. Chicago advanced to the semi-final last year before being knocked out by the New England Revolution.

After setting a Fourth Round attendance record with 30,160 against Columbus expect a large crowd to show up at Nippert for this one.

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Djiby Heads Cincinnati Past Columbus

FC Cincinnati beats the Columbus Crew 1-0 in the US Open Cup Fourth Round in front of 30,160. Djiby Fall scored the only goal in the 64 minute after heading Justin Hoyte’s cross to himself before heading it over the outstretched hand of the Columbus Crew keeper Brad Stuver.

Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch commented, “Great performance by our guys, we gave them a plan and they went out and executed it to a tee.” When asked how big of a personal achievement this was he deflected putting the emphasis on the club and city saying, “Tonight’s special, tonight’s about our club and our city. It’s about everything we are trying to work towards really came together tonight,” he continued, “It is certainly not the end, this is hopefully the start for the group we had.”

Columbus started a very strong lineup with six regular starters in the starting 11, including Designated Player Federico Higuain. Columbus Head Coach Gregg Berhalter commented on the staring lineup, “We want to win the game and that was the objective.”

Cincinnati started a very strong starting 11 as well but in a new formation with three center backs, five midfielders, and two strikers.

Cincinnati came in with a plan and executed it very well by welcoming the pressure that Columbus brought and sending long balls up to their strikers Djiby and Danni Konig. Many of the first half crosses send in by wing back Matt Bahner were not accurate enough in the first half. The back three played extremely well sending most of the crosses from the wings out of the box.

The best chance for Cincinnati in the first half was a volley from Djiby that was just over the bar. He didn’t miss on his second chance when a long ball up to Konig allowed the rest of the Cincinnati team to catch up and Hoyte delivered a perfect cross to Djiby who headed it to himself and then into the net.

Columbus really took the game to Cincinnati early on dominating possession throughout the game and dominated in total shots 16 to five. Early in the match Columbus was able to get balls through the back three and into dangerous shooting positions but were unable to put any of the shots on target. Columbus’s best chance in the first half was a shot from Adam Jahn that was put into the side netting right before halftime after a cross from Ethan Findley.

Their best two chances of the night came in the six minutes of extra time. The first, a cross from Niko Hansen across the box and a sliding Jahn couldn’t get his foot on it to redirect it for a goal. Second, a volley from Higuain just went over the bar.

News and Notes

Cincinnati set a new US Open Cup Fourth Round record for attendance tonight. This is the third highest attendance behind the Crystal Palace friendly and the playoff match last year against the Charleston Battery.

Djiby scored his third goal in Cup play tonight and his ninth for Cincinnati in all competitions, six in USL play.

Berhalter commented on the atmosphere, “This is what makes soccer special and it’s great to give Americans a great cup atmosphere.”

Hoyte came on in the 58 minute for Matt Bahner and played right back which is the opposite side of the field he normally plays. His first attempted cross was sent into the Bailey.

After the match Columbus midfielder Justin Merem and the supporters section exchanged words and Columbus fans were attempting to throw punches.

Moment By Moment

3’ Adam Jahn collected a ball went across goal and just wide.

17’ Djiby Fall receives the ball at the top of the box and just fires over. He received a great pass from Matt Bahner and put a volley just over under pressure from a Columbus defender.

45’ Ethan Findley put a good pass into Jahn who puts the shot into the side netting. A good chance for Columbus and one that could have been a goal.

45 +2’ Columbus’s Waylon Francis picks up the first yellow card of the match for bringing down Matt Bahner down on the side of the box. The resulting free kick from Aodhan Quinn was put on target but just tipped wide by the keeper Brad Stuver. The referee blew the halftime whistle before the corner could be taken.

64’ Djiby put a header into the top corner of the net to give Cincinnati the lead. A cross from Hoyte into Djiby who headed the ball up to himself and then arched to over Stuver’s outstretched hand.

71’ Niko Hansen puts a good pass from the end line to Justin Merem who puts his shot across goal and wide by a foot. He had his head in his hands after that miss.

74’ Mitch Hildebrandt gets a yellow card for taking to long on a goal kick after a substitution.

90 +1’ After a throw in the entire Cincinnati defense looked to switch off and Hansen was able to run down the line and put in a very dangerous low cross that Jahn just missed redirecting into the net for the equalizer.

90 +4’ Federico Higuain put a volley just over the bar. A good cross but a poor finish, would have sent the match into extra time.

Up Next

The US Open Cup Fifth Round draw will be held tomorrow June 15 to decide who plays who and a coin flip will decide who hosts the match. The match will be held either June 27 or 28.

Cincinnati’s next USL match will be this Saturday at 7:00 pm at Nippert Stadium. Charleston is currently the top team in the Eastern Conference with 27 points (8-2-3). In the first meeting of the season Charleston won 2-1 in the season opener.

Cincinnati will host St. Louis FC on the following Saturday June 24 at 7:00 pm. Last match Djiby scored four against St. Louis in a 4-0 win on April 15.

Final Thoughts

Tonight is a huge testament to what Cincinnati is trying to do and getting 30,160 for a US Open Cup match is putting them in position to make the jump to MLS. Coming off a great week for the club the win puts Cincinnati at the front of the sporting landscape in Cincinnati for the foreseeable future. The atmosphere was incredible and I wish I could have heard more but the glass in the press box prevented that.

On the field Cincinnati looked incredible very compact defensively and the substitutions that came on played well. Djiby and Konig held the ball up very well later in the match, early they looked confused when needing to hold up the ball. Around the 30 minute, as usual, they came out of their shell and looked to attack more even though the chances didn’t come that was the turning point where Columbus didn’t look like they were going to score on most of their trips down.

Overall this was a great night for the city of Cincinnati and their soccer club FC Cincinnati. Though may have wanted to move a few more banners due to fans sitting above and next to them in the upper deck.

Cincinnati Struggles To Draw With Charlotte

FC Cincinnati hosted the Charlotte Independence in a 1-1 draw in Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium in front of 21,115 fans. Charlotte’s Alex Martinez scored early and right before halftime Justin Hoyte drew level. Cincinnati was unable to capitalize on Enzo Martinez’s second yellow.

Both goals were fantastic with Alex Martinez gathering a great pass and firing the ball over the top of keeper Mitch Hildebrandt from a tight angle. Hoyte had one almost as pretty where he chested a ball down to Jimmy McLaughlin who played a pass back that was intercepted by a defender but poorly cleared. Hoyte one timed a curler into the bottom corner.

“Feels like a loss,” Is how Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch started his postgame press conference. “Off the success we have had at home we play here and expect to win.” He further critiqued his team saying, “Individual little mistakes prevented us from really getting on top of the game tonight.”

Cincinnati started slow early again giving up some early chances where the defense seemed to not want to close down Charlotte players with the ball, particularly Enzo Martinez. Luckily nothing came of them due to two being right at Mitch Hildebrandt and an acrobatic save on another.

The goal from Alex Martinez was just one more chance after a long period of domination by Charlotte, including the chances mentioned above. It was the result of Enzo Martinez once again cutting though the Cincinnati defense and making a good pass to Jorge Herrera, who quickly passed it to Alex Martinez for the goal.

Later in the first half Cincinnati was able to to put pressure on and create chances with two good shots from Danni Konig and Kenny Walker. A defender blocked Konig’s off the line, while Walker’s was just over after an intercepted pass.

Hoyte leveling the game just before half gave Cincinnati the goal and momentum they needed going into the break. McLaughlin was not rewarded an assist due to the pass first being intercepted.

The second half was not the open affair with both defenses being able to pack it in and chances dwindled. Cincinnati had more possession in the second half but quality chances were few and far between. Charlotte had a corner just go over the bar as their best chance. McLaughlin had Cincinnati’s best chance in stoppage time when his shot from inside the box was blocked by Luke Waechter, who was injured blocking the shot.

Enzo Martinez’s red card didn’t have much of an impact due because it was so late and a Cincinnati player was unable to get on the end of a good free kick from Aodhan Quinn.

News and Notes

The result tonight gives Cincinnati 16 points (4-5-4) on the season and puts them in the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

In the post game press conference Coach Koch, Hoyte, and Harrison Delbridge all looked disappointed after the result and all commented how they wanted to come away with a win and three points.

Delbridge commented on the noise level tonight saying, “People don’t realize I’m trying to talk to (Quinn) in front of me, sometimes he doesn’t hear me because the crowd is so loud.”

Justin Hoyte scored his first goal for FC Cincinnati and his first since 2012 when he played for Middlesbrough FC. This was his second appearance since coming back from his pulled hamstring and his third total.

Josu made his home debut tonight coming on in the 64 minute. His second for the club after his debut last weekend.

Former Cincinnati forward Casey Townsend made his first appearance against his former club registering one shot.

Moment By Moment

 

10’ Charlotte intercepted a pass in the midfield and was able to make a break toward goal and Alex Martinez had the field open up in front of him and fired a shot but it was pushed wide by the diving keeper, Mitch Hildebrandt.

17’ The first yellow card of the game went to Charlotte’s Enzo Martinez for throwing the ball on the ground after being called for a foul by the referee.

18’ Charlotte’s Alex Martinez scored the first goal of the match firing the ball into the roof of the net from. He received a pass inside the box from Jorge Herrera and was able to dribble a couple times before firing up and over Hildebrandt.

27’ Danni Konig had a shot from inside the box saved off the line by a Charlotte defender. Dacres received the ball on the right and was able to get around his defender and pass to Konig whose shot was saved by a Charlotte defender. Jimmy McLaughlin was behind him unmarked and if the ball had gone though it would have been a good chance on goal.

31’ Charlotte’ David Estrada hit the post on a shot after a good pass up and Cincinnati’s backline again letting Charlotte walk through again.

36’ Kenny Walker of Cincinnati had a Charlotte clearance go directly to him outside the box and he fired a shot just missing the top corner.

43’ Walker receives a yellow after a kicking a Charlotte midfielder while he was on the ground in a dirty tackle.

45’ Justin Hoyte scored his first goal for Cincinnati with a curler just before the half to level the score. He chested down a pass to Corben Bone on the left side of the box who played a leading pass back to Hoyte before a nice curler was sent into the bottom corner of the net.

55’ Austin Waechter picked up a yellow for taking down Konig. The resulting free kick was close to the corner flag and the ball was almost headed in by Waechter but was a saved by his keeper, Cody Mizell, kept it out.

75’ Free kick from Cincinnati is headed just wide by Harrison Delbridge. Delbridge’s header was likely meant to be sent across to Djiby Fall but was over his head.

90’ A second yellow card was issued to Enzo Martinez after he cut down Djiby in the midfield. The resulting free kick was headed on by Delbridge but was easily corralled by the keeper.

90′ +2 McLaughlin fires a shot that is blocked by the Charlotte defense. The deflection soars into the air and is allowed to bounce out for a goal kick. It looked like the ball was not touched after the deflection but the call stood as a goal kick instead of a corner.

Up Next

Cincinnati hosts the Columbus Crew in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round this Wednesday June 14 at 7:00 pm. In what is being called the “Hell is Real” derby by supporters of both clubs this is looking to be a fiery affair with Cincinnati trying to prove that they are ready for the MLS both on and off the field and Columbus trying to stamp out their new neighbors to the South.

Cincinnati’s next USL match will be this Saturday at 7:00 pm at Nippert Stadium. Charleston is currently the top team in the Eastern Conference with 27 points (8-2-3). In the first meeting of the season Charleston won 2-1 in the season opener.

Final Thoughts

This was a disappointing draw for Cincinnati and they are running out of time to get results having played two or three more matches then the teams around them in the standings. It is more likely they fall out of playoff positions than move up the table.

It was a poor first 20 minutes for Cincinnati where they never closed down Charlotte’s leading scorer Enzo Martinez letting him get off two shots, with one forcing a spectacular diving save from Mitch Hildebrandt. The shot from David Estrada that hit the woodwork was another example of bad defense after he was allowed to drive in. The early struggles need to be fixed by Coach Koch.

Cincinnati put pressure on around the 35 minute per usual and dominated the final 10 minutes of the first half. This has always been their best part of the game and they need to figure out how to expand the time frame where they can create chances.

A win against Columbus this Wednesday could go a long way to win a little goodwill after the frustrating start to the season. But I recognize that is unlikely.

But hey at least the fans got to see fireworks after the game.

FC Cincinnati hosting Valencia in summer friendly

FC Cincinnati has officially announced that Valencia CF is coming to play at Nippert Stadium on Monday July 24 at 7:00 pm. This comes after a long delay compared to last year, when the Crystal Palace friendly was announced May 19 of last year. This will be the second match that Valencia will play in the US over the summer with the first being two days prior against the New York Cosmos in Canada.

Valencia plays in the Spanish La Liga where they finished in 12th this past season. They have won the La Liga six times, as recently as 2004, as well as winning the UEFA Europa League in 2004 as well. They are generally considered the one of the top clubs in Spain, consistently finishing in the top four, qualifying for the UEFA Champions League eight times since 2000.

Valencia boasts a rising star in 22 year-old left back José Gaya who is being targeted by Manchester City and Arsenal of the Premier League in England. He has made 108 appearances scoring four goals for Valencia across all competitions and made 12 appearances while scoring a goal for the Spanish under 21 team. He has been called into the Spanish National Team on two occasions in 2015, but was left on the bench for both matches.

Valencia also boasts Nani who won the 2016 Euros with Portugal this past summer and formally played for Manchester United where he won four Premier League titles and the UEFA Champions League. He also won the Premier League Association’s Player of the Year honors during the 2010-11 season.

FC Cincinnati

FC Cincinnati v. Crystal Palace in 2016 (Photo by: telegraph.co.uk)

Bringing in Valencia is another big coup for the FC Cincinnati General Manager Jeff Berding and Owner Carl Lindner III. After the resounding success of last years sell-out crowd of over 35,000 they will be hoping to improve upon that high standard set last year.

The MLS will most certainly be watching FCC, between them hosting Valencia and the Columbus Crew in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. MLS Commissioner Don Garber has emphasized that he wants to expand the league to a place that has a good ownership group and a great soccer fan base. This friendly match against Valencia, along with the Crystal Palace match last year, is more proof that Berding and Lindner are doing well in their roles and provide everything that the MLS wants in an ownership group.

With a great fan base that always comes out to support their team, FCC will likely sell this game out. This is significant because the match will be on a Monday night and weekday games usually are a tougher sell. The fan base has already proved time and time again that they are a great community for soccer and will be out to support FC Cincinnati at all times.

With the MLS looking on, FC Cincinnati will prove once again that they should be one of the MLS expansion teams when the time comes.

 

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