FC Cincinnati hosted English club Crystal Palace their first international friendly at Nippert Stadium losing 0-2. Despite the score line Cincinnati represented themselves well not only on the pitch but also in the stands with their first ever sell out of 35,061. This is also the largest attendance for a soccer game in Ohio.
After the match both managers gave the crowd a lot of credit with Palace manager Alan Pardew saying, “The atmosphere is phenomenal, it’s not often you get an atmosphere like that in preseason…the enthusiasm for this club is phenomenal.”
Cincinnati goalkeepers played well even though they gave up two goals. Starting keeper Mitch Hildebrandt had a lot of work to do including making one save. But, the standout keeper was Dan Williams, who made his debut, making a save off a tough shot from Andros Townsend within 30 seconds of coming into the game. After the game he stated on his debut against a Premier League team and in front of a sold out crowd, “It’s a dream come true.”
Palace scored early in the 8’ minute off a shot from outside the box from Jordan Mutch and doubled their lead in the second half off a good shot by Wilfred Zaha in the 63’ that just snuck inside the post. In a concerning moment for Palace fans Zaha was injured on a challenge, from Cincinnati’s Jamie Dell. Gingerly walking off he left the stadium on crutches and in a walking boot. Pardew commented after the match saying, “Hoping he’s okay, he should be okay we don’t think it’s a problem.”
In the first half Palace was able to hold the ball for long stretches and creating the majority of the chances. Cincinnati dropped deep and defended attempting to frustrate the attack and created a handful of counter attacks that led to shots. Most of Cincinnati’s shots were off target only forcing Palace keeper Alex McCarthy to make a two saves.
Cincinnati keeper Mitch Hildebrandt had a pretty good half, having to make one save and giving up a goal on a great shot from outside the box. He had a very active half in terms of passing due to the Palace forwards pressing and cutting out passes into the middle third.
Cincinnati came out attacking right away in the second half off a long pass down the left of the pitch led to a shot from Jimmy McLaughlin. This set off the best offensive stretch for Cincinnati of the evening leading to a few quality chances. Coach John Harkes stated, “I thought the boys responded really well, and created chances [all game].”
Omar Cummings and Omar Mohamed were both able to get into great positions and put shots on target forcing tough saves from McCarthy. The rest of the half was more even with both teams creating chances with Palace able to double their lead.
The push in the last few minutes of the match from Cincinnati was unable to provide a goal despite a pair of corners.
FC Cincinnati has their next game against Eastern Conference leader New York Reds Bulls II on Wednesday July 20 at 7:00 in Nippert Stadium.