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Cincinnati grinds out win over Ottawa

FC Cincinnati beat the Ottawa Fury FC 2-0 tonight in front of 27,107 fans at Nippert Stadium. It was a very hot night; the heat index at kickoff was 97°.

Danni Konig scored the first goal early in the 16’ with a header off a great cross from Blake Smith. Nazmi Albadawi put the game to be with a spectacular volley in stoppage time.

“I was very pleased with how the guys managed the game, slowed it down at times which is what we need to do,” Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch praised how his team played tonight.

Cincinnati controlled the midfield extremely well throughout the game. Especially in the first half controlling 65% of the possession and limiting Ottawa to three shots with none on target. The defense was spot on led by midfielder Michael Lahoud and center-back Dekel Keinan. Both were incredible in controlling possession and limiting the few chances Ottawa was able to muster.

With all of Cincinnati’s control of the ball, they were only able to convert the two chances but there were more than a handful of shots that just missed or were stopped by great saves from Ottawa’s keeper Maxime Crepeau.

Cincinnati had the first real chance of the night when Konig was set free by a good long ball over the top but his shot was saved from a very tough angle by Crepeau. Three minutes later Konig put in a header after a fantastic curling cross from Blake Smith that seemed to curl around a defender and onto Konig’s head.

After the goal, Cincinnati controlled the game for a very long stretch but couldn’t find a quick goal.

In the 29’ Cincinnati came close again when Justin Hoyte and Emmanuel Ledesma played a quick one-two and Hoyte attempted to chip the oncoming keeper who batted the ball up into the air and caught the rebound.

In the 40’ Ottawa cleared a Cincinnati corner but the ball bounced to Corben Bone who whiffed badly on the shot. Ottawa collected the ball and started off on a counterattack that was stifled by the hustle from Smith.

Coming out in the second half Cincinnati was on the front foot again with two chances early. First in the 48’ Ledesma fought through an Ottawa defender and won the ball near the corner flag in his attacking third. After carrying the ball into the box his cross for Konig was caught well by the diving Crepeau.

Four minutes later a shot from Bone went just over the bar. He did very well to find space in the box, finding a crease in between two defenders and dodging a third.

The best chance from Ottawa came in the 59’ when Carl Haworth dribbled through three Cincinnati defenders to fire a point-blank shot that was expertly saved by Evan Newton.

A couple minutes later, a long ball down the right set Albadawi off to the races with space to run into. He carried the ball into the box but a sliding Crepeau, who trapped the ball under his body, saved his shot.

Ottawa went on the front foot and started throwing more players forward around the 70’ with Cincinnati content to sit back. The midfield strength of Lahoud was on display with his good positioning and ability to cut out passes.

Cincinnati was able to get a counter in the 82’ when Newton caught a corner and kicked a long ball quickly out to Albadawi on the right in space. He passed back toward the middle just behind Jimmy McLaughlin but a trailing Konig hit a one-timer just over the bar.

Albadawi put the game away with an incredible first-time volley in the first minute of stoppage time. Bone played a pass across the box to Albadawi at the top of the box and the shot found its way past the diving keeper.

News and Notes

Tonight was the halfway point in the season. Cincinnati currently sits in first place in the Eastern Conference with 34 points (10-3-4). They are six points ahead of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds who have only played 15 games.

Danni Konig scored his eighth league goal of the season, tying Emmanuel Ledesma for the team lead. Ledesma leads the team in assists with eight.

Jimmy McLaughlin had his 10th substitute appearance of the season. He has 14 appearances in total with four starts.

Michael Lahoud completed 68 passes and completed 97% of his attempts.

Blake Smith got his third yellow of the season in the 86’.

Evan Newton earned his fifth clean sheet of the season tonight.

Up Next

Cincinnati travels south to play Nashville SC next Saturday, July 7 at 8:30 p.m. This will be the first official match between two future MLS teams. Nashville currently sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 26 points (7-3-5).

The Tampa Bay Rowdies come into town on July 14 at 7:30 p.m. This will be the first match this season between the two teams. Last season Tampa Bay beat Cincinnati two out of the three matches between them, while drawing the third. Tampa Bay is currently in 11th place with 19 points (5-6-4).

Final Thoughts

Coming into a hot environment with three days rest to play a rested Ottawa team, this is a big three points after dropping two against Toronto.

The midfield was incredible tonight with Lahoud and Kenny Walker playing well all night.

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