FC Cincinnati drew 2-2 with the 10 man Bethlehem Steel at home in Nippert Stadium.
Bethlehem’s Derrick Jones scored the first goal in the 29’. Olivier Mbaizo was given a red card in the 52’ after head butting Nazmi Albadawi one minute after receiving a yellow card for a foul on Jimmy McLaughlin.
Cincinnati had two quick goals in the 66’ and 68’ from Albadawi and Russell Cicerone to grab a lead. It was short lived because off the kickoff in the 69’ Fabian Habers tied it up.
Alan Koch, Cincinnati’s Head Coach, commented on the match saying, “Got ourselves back into the game. Very proud of how the guys played the second 45 minutes and then you get greedy and you want to get three points.”
On the second goal he said, “That’s frustrating, you should never concede a goal straight after you have scored. You’ve got to have the focus and we always preach 5 minute segments of the game. We should have managed that a lot better.”
Cincinnati played well for most of the first half creating a bunch chances down the right flank courtesy of Russell Cicerone. He teamed up with Nazmi Albadawi and Emery Welshman very well with all three of them having shots from good areas in the half. But they were unable to get a ball in the back of the net.
A pair of diving saves from Bethlehem’s keeper John McCarthy kept Cincinnati from scoring. Cicerone in the 25’ had a great run into to box but his shot was parried wide. In the 31’ Nazmi had a shot into what looked like a wide open half of the net but out of nowhere McCarthy dove and sent the ball past the post.
Bethlehem got on the board with the goal from Jones in the 29’. He collected a pass at the top of the box, his first shot was blocked and bounced right back to him where he was able to dodge two Cincinnati defenders before sliding the ball into the bottom corner.
At the end of the half two penalty shouts for Cincinnati were waved off by the referee after Welshman fell in the box twice after contact from Bethlehem defenders. Both very well could have been called. Two chances for Cincinnati shortly after both went wide, one a free header from McLaughlin and another shot from Welshman.
The game changed in the 51’ when Mbaizo fouled Jimmy McLaughlin hard near the Cincinnati bench. Words were exchanged between the two and Olivier pushed McLaughlin several times earning a yellow card. After walking away he was confronted by Nazmi where they exchanged words before Oliver head butted the Cincinnati midfielder earning a straight red in the 52’ and leaving Bethlehem with 10 men.
Cincinnati had two quick goals starting in the 66’ with Nazmi putting a shot into the bottom corner after a clearance off the line. In the 68’ Russell Cicerone headed in a Blake Smith cross to take the lead. Danni Konig had a shot squeak thorough the keeper but was cleared off the line directly to Nazmi who was able to slide a shot into the bottom corner through traffic for the first goal.
The second goal Russell Cicerone scored on a header inside the box less than two minutes later. Blake Smith crossed a perfect ball in and Cicerone rose to meet it, putting the free header back the way it came giving the keeper no chance.
Bethlehem equalized right off the kickoff in the 69’ when poor defending and goalkeeping allowed Habers to equalize from a tough position. Outrunning Sem de Wit to get onto a pass inside the box left of goal, Habers put a shot past a charging Evan Newton who was caught in no-man’s land.
Bethlehem then packed it in for the final 20 minutes. Cincinnati had a handful of shots but only one gave the keeper any trouble. It was a free kick from Nazmi from way out. A pair of long shots were easily caught by McCarthy and gave him a chance to waste more time down the stretch.
Cincinnati had to use a sub in the 35’ when Centreback Dekel Keinan left the game due to an injury. He was able to walk around after the game and it doesn’t look too serious. Forrest Lasso replaced Keinan.
Blake Smith was very influential in both goals putting the cross in for Konig before Nazmi scored and had the assist on the Cicerone’s goal.
Cincinnati is (2-2-2) at home this year collecting eight points. They are (6-1-1) away, getting 19 points. They are currently sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference with 27 points, four ahead of Louisville who is in second but has three games in hand.
Cincinnati hosts the Richmond Kickers this Saturday, June 16 at 7:30 p.m. This is their first matchup this season. Richmond currently sits in near the bottom of the Eastern Conference in 14th place with 13 points (4-7-1).
There is then an 11-day layoff for Cincinnati until they travel to Canada to play Toronto II. Toronto currently sits in last place in the East with 2 points (0-11-2) and losing their last seven matches.
Cincinnati played well tonight and the first half was frustrating but they were still able to create chances. McCarthy had an incredible game and is the reason this was a draw instead of three points for Cincinnati.
Kenny Walker will rarely make it into the box score but he is a machine in the midfield and put several balls into Cicerone, Welshman and McLaughlin that made the Bethlehem defense sweat.
Danni Konig continues to impress every time he plays. Tonight he came on and played a role in a goal two minutes later.
The struggles continue at home and Cincinnati needs to find a rhythm at Nippert with eight of their next 10 being played here.