FC Cincinnati bowed out of the USL Playoffs in the first round for a second straight year. This time courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rowdies after being manhandled in a 3-0 defeat. Marcel Schafer scored two goals in the first half and Georgi Hristov added one in the second to continue the rout of Cincinnati.
It was a first half to forget for Cincinnati in another win or go home match in the 2017 season. Two goals from Marcel Schafer in the eighth and 25’ minutes gave Tampa Bay the lead. His first off a weak shot right at Mitch Hildebrandt but somehow got through him. The second was from 25 yards out with a good strike but a late reaction from Hildebrandt again made any save difficult.
A lot of passes from the midfield of Cincinnati didn’t hit their desired target. Cincinnati had 4 shots and all of them off target. Their best chance was a good run from Jimmy McLaughlin on the left side of the box. He chose to pass it off to Djiby instead of taking a shot where the keeper was shielded. Not a sure goal but definitely the best chance.
The second half didn’t go much better. The passing wasn’t crisp and Tampa Bay seemed to outrun Cincinnati all half. A wonder goal from Georgi Hristov in the 67’ that hit the bottom of the crossbar and into the net was the dagger for Cincinnati. After the goal Cincinnati had pressure and a few crosses but only one was dangerous with a header from Kadeem Dacres that was incredibly saved by the Tampa Bay keeper.
Disappointing end to what was a fun year to be a soccer fan in Cincinnati. A great run in the US Open Cup beating USL rival Louisville City, local MLS rival Columbus Crew, beating the Chicago Fire on penalties on ESPN, and leading the New York Red Bulls 2-0 going into the 75’ minute before eventually losing in extra time 3-2. Also the US Women’s National Team played at Nippert due to the excitement generated in Cincinnati.
On the league side of things it was more of a season to forget. Finishing in 6th place in the Eastern Conference was below the expectation of 4th and hosting a playoff match. A very poor road record of (4-8-4) with 16 points didn’t help things. Not exactly what Head Coach Alan Koch would have had in mind when he took over.
Moment By Moment
8’ Marcel Schafer scores to put Tampa Bay up early. Schafer got behind the defense and beat the keeper Mitch Hildebrandt. It was bad from Cincinnati all around, Harrison Delbridge was beat by Georgi Hristov who passed to a cutting Schafer with a weak shot that was able to find its way past Hildebrandt for the goal.
11’ Jimmy McLaughlin got behind the defense and put a shot past the far post, unable to equalize.
25’ Schafer doubles the lead with a shot from 25 yards out. He was unmarked 25 yards out and Austin Berry was too slow to close down and the reaction from Hildebrandt was very slow.
34’ Jimmy McLaughlin had a very good look coming down the left and drove into the box before trying to pass to Djiby, but the pass was intercepted. McLaughlin probably should have shot the ball instead of passing off.
52’ McLaughlin booked for a late challenge on Joe Cole.
54’ Austin Berry gave the ball away to Cole of Tampa Bay and made a very good tackle to stop the shot and make up for his mistake.
63′ Kenny Walker booked for dissent.
67’ Hristov with a shot from 30 yards out hit the bottom of the crossbar and dropped into the bottom of the net.
79′ Kadeem Dacres with a header that was just tipped away by the Tampa Bay keeper Matt Pickens. Was a sure goal off the corner and Pickens comes from far away to tip it over the bar.
84′ Joe Cole booked for time wasting after kicking the ball away after the whistle.
Tough loss for Cincinnati tonight even though they were expected to lose due to their seeding and poor road record. It was a good start for the first few minutes, looking like Cincinnati was going to set the tone for the game. Then a horrible defensive breakdown let the ball go over the top and Hildebrandt somehow let the ball through his legs. The second goal Hildebrandt could have been shielded but it looked like a bad reaction. I have just come to expect more from Hildebrandt and both of those I think he wishes he could have back. It was a bad night all around with bad passing and the defense getting beat a few times.
It will be an interesting offseason for Cincinnati with some players who started tonight who will not be back next season. But those moves will happen in the coming weeks and everything will fall into place for season.