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Cincinnati clinches playoffs and unbeaten streak moves to 16

FC Cincinnati extended their unbeaten streak to 16 after a 2-1 comeback win over Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. The win clinched a playoff spot with seven matches to play confirming that every season Cincinnati was in the USL they made the playoffs.

Pittsburgh took the lead in the 57’ with a goal from Romeo Parks. Dekel Keinan equalized in the 80’ for Cincinnati and Fanendo Adi scored the game winner in the 88’.

Adi’s goal was his first since joining Cincinnati to a lot of fanfare as their first Designated Player signing in anticipation to their move to MLS next season.

Pittsburgh outplayed Cincinnati over long stretches tonight and created more than a handful of very good chances on the counter. If Spencer Richey doesn’t make three huge saves this match could have turned into a rout for Pittsburgh.

In the first half Cincinnati held the lion share of possession with 67% but only managed three shots with one on target. Their best chance, a shot from Emmanuel Ledesma, was cleared off the line by a defender. Pittsburgh executed a perfect gameplan of packing it in and exploding on the counter where they created come very good chances.

The second half started with a penalty miss from Pittsburgh’s Kay Banjo firing the shot way over the bar after Forest Lasso brought him down in the box. Pittsburgh predictably sat back after their goal and forced Cincinnati to make something happen. The offense was stagnant until Adi was brought on in the 75′ he created a chance for Ledesma within the first minute he was on the field with a chest pass. A minute later he put a header into the side netting after a great cross from Jimmy McLaughlin.

Keinan’s goal was set up by a foul on Ledesma outside the box and Ledesma put a nice ball in for Keinan to head into the back of the net. Adi added the winner late after a long ball from Kenny Walker.

Recap

Pittsburgh had the first chance of the evening on a counter after a bad pass from Forest Lasso in the 12’ minute.

Ledesma collected a ball over the top of the defense and beat two defenders and chipped the goalkeeper but the ball was cleared off the line by a Pittsburgh defender in the 27’. Kenny Walker played the pass over the top of the defense.

Richey kept the match scoreless after a great save from a tough angle in the 30’. Pittsburgh countered well again and got the ball into the box where Walker made a challenge from behind and got a piece of the ball. There were penalty shouts but the referee let play go on. Seconds later a very good shot from a tough angle was parried over the bar by Richey’s outstretched hand.

Richey made another incredible save, this time with his leg in the 35’. A good turn and a hard shot from Kay Banjo originally sent Richey the wrong way but a last ditch leg kick sent the ball away from goal.

Pittsburgh’s Banjo skied a penalty over the bar in the 49’. Forest Lasso brought down Banjo after a couple very nice dribbles; a penalty was the right call.

The stalemate was broken in the 57’ with a goal from Romeo Parks giving Pittsburgh the lead. Three quick passes from Pittsburgh opened up space in the box that Parks filled and hit a first time shot into the back of the net.

Adi put an unmarked header into the side netting in the 76’. Jimmy McLaughlin put in a fantastic cross but the header was just wide.

Dekel Keinan equalized in the 80’ with a header from a free kick. Emmanuel Ledesma put in the free kick over the top of the defense and Keinan beat his man to the ball.

Richey made another very good save in the 82’ after a counter attack with Pittsburgh’s leading goal scorer Neco Brett put a good shot on frame.

Adi gave Cincinnati the lead in the 88’ with a great individual effort. After collecting a long ball from Kenny Walker he fought off two defenders at the top of the box and put a shot into the bottom corner.

News and Notes

Emmanuel Ledesma tallied his 11th assist of the season taking the lead as the USL assist leader. He was previously in a three-way tie for first with Kyle Bekker of North Carolina FC and Jared Stroud of New York Red Bulls II.

Dekel Keinan scored his second goal of the season in the 80’.

Kenny Walker earned his second assist of the season on the Adi goal in the 88′.

Forest Lasso earned his seventh yellow card of the season. He is one yellow card away from a one game suspension.

Fanendo Adi picked up his first yellow card in the 88’, seconds before his goal.

The attendance tonight was 25,735. The season average is 25,230.

Up Next

Cincinnati travels down to take on local rival Louisville City FC. Louisville has won both of the matches between the two, including providing the last loss for Cincinnati on May 26th. Louisville has a new head coach in John Hackworth after James O’Connor left for Orlando City SC in the MLS. Sitting in 2nd place in the Eastern conference after a draw with the third place Charleston Battery on Friday night.

Final Thoughts

Tonight was a big moment for Cincinnati in multiple areas: first clinching the playoffs, second getting a come from behind win against a top three team in the conference, and Adi getting his first goal for the club.

Clinching the playoffs is just step number one to ultimate goal of winning the USL Cup but it makes it so they are in the picture.

This is a team that has trailed for a total of 95 minutes during the first 15 games of the unbeaten streak. After trailing for 23 minutes tonight it shows the resolve of a team to grind out wins. This can only be a good sign for the playoffs when they will face adversity at some point.

Adi getting on the score sheet for Cincinnati can only help his confidence. This move has been rough on him as well as playing on artificial turf at home for the first time. He has had a handful of great chances to get his first goal, including the header he put into the side netting tonight, to do it in this fashion will make this team even more dangerous for the end of the season and into the playoffs. Also after his goal he ran right over to Alan Koch and gave him a big hug.

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