FC Cincinnati lost an international friendly with La Liga side Valencia CF 2-0. Nando and Simone Zaza both scored to give their team the victory. An impressive 23,114 showed up to witness the special event at Nippert Stadium.
Nando scored on a beautiful ball over Cincinnati’s back line from Dani Parejo and buried a shot into the side netting. There was little the back line or keeper Dallas Jaye could do to stop the perfect run and flawless strike. Zaza scored into an open net in stoppage time after Cincinnati brought everyone up for a corner in an attempt to tie the game.
Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch commented on the match, “It’s not very often when you lose a game it’s okay to smile. I think we all hate losing but tonight was more than winning or losing. It was obviously a great experience for our entire group.” He continued, “We managed to get some good minutes for guys that played a lot and managed to get some minutes for guys who haven played that much.”
Valencia Head Coach Marcelino García Toral said through a translator, “It was a great experience playing here before and during the match. It was a great experience with a great atmosphere.”
The retirement of Omar Cummings was an exceptional spectacle that coincided with the match. He was given a framed jersey during a halftime ceremony with his family and some front office staff. He subbed in to start the second half and played 28 minutes before being subbed off to a standing ovation from the Nippert Crowd.
Commenting on his final match Cummings said, “It doesn’t feel like it has quite hit me yet.” On going out in Cincinnati, “The opportunity to go out in front of my adopted home, in front of this fan base, community. Against a team like Valencia, it was awesome.”
Cincinnati started the match with a lot of possession as Valencia sat back in a very defensive formation. The first good chance of the match came from Cincinnati’s Aodhan Quinn’s long looping volley that was parried away by keeper Neto before sliding under the bar into the top corner in the 13 minute.
Starting keeper Mitch Hildebrandt was brought off in the 31 minute for backup Dallas Jaye. Jaye had to endure the onslaught that Valencia brought late in the first half. First he caught a hard shot from Alvaro Negrado that was placed directly above him but the ball could have easily slipped through his hands. Then he made a diving save to stop a shot from Zaza but it didn’t count due to Zaza being offside. Lastly Zaza was able to chip one over Jaye but again couldn’t stay onside.
The second half started with two changes for Cincinnati including bringing Cummings on for his final appearance. He drew a yellow card in the 48 minute from Aymen Abdennour who took him down from behind while running down the line. He came off in the 73 minute to a standing ovation from the crowd and his teammates.
Valencia got onto the score sheet in the 62 minute after an amazing long ball from Dani Parejo went over the back line of Cincinnati, landing perfectly in stride with a streaking Nando who took a couple touches and buried it into the side netting.
After the goal came mass substitutions from both teams. Then good up and down play was had, but very little in good scoring chances for Cincinnati.
At the end of stoppage time Cincinnati earned a corner and sent everyone up to try to equalize, including keeper Dan Williams. The ball was cleared and ended up to a wide-open Zaza who took a few touches in the open field before tapping into an open net. Williams did give chance the entire way but was unable to catch up to the striker.
News and Notes
Omar Cummings appeared in 20 matches for Cincinnati and scored three goals in his time here. He was a regular starter until hurting his knee last season in an ugly challenge causing his knee to hyper-extend. Now moving into a role with the front office with the development academy and community involvement.
The only Cincinnati players not to appear tonight were Harrison Delbridge, Justin Hoyte and Josu. Josu had knee swelling while both Delbridge and Hoyte have been struggling for fitness due to the congested match schedule. Delbridge also just came back from an abdominal injury.
On the artificial turf Toral commented he was happy no one was injured. Wilfried Zaha left in a walking boot after last season’s friendly with Crystal Palace.
This was Valencia’s second game on a two game tour of North America. The New York Cosmos hosted them in Saskatchewan, Canada in front of a little more than 15,000 with New York winning 2-0.
Koch also stated, “Valencia is an amazing team, there is a reason they are the club they are, there is a reason they play in the league they do. You could see their team was a little rusty, it’s their preseason that’s to be expected. But you could also see some individual moments that were sheer brilliance.”
This Saturday the Rochester Rhinos come to town for a USL matchup at 7:00 pm. Rochester currently sits in seventh in the Eastern Conference (6-3-7) with 25 points. In their first match of the season Rochester squeezed out a 1-0 win off a goal from Bradley Kamdem Fewo.
A good showing compared to what I feel should have happened against a top La Liga team that played their starters for most of the match. Even though they were in preseason, Valencia had their moments and they outclassed Cincinnati. Credit the defense and positioning of the back line and wing backs because they held firm and didn’t allow easy shots and passes in the final third were hard to come by.
The best player on the pitch tonight was Dani Parejo. He was all over the pitch and made more than a handful of balls over the top of the Cincinnati defense and it Zaza could have stayed onside he would have had two or three assists.
Hosting Crystal Palace last season and Valencia this season are huge grabs. Along with the home playoff win last season and U.S. Open Cup run this year hosting Columbus and Chicago the crowds have been coming out and given something to cheer about from their players. This has been a promising start for Cincinnati and bodes well for an MLS call up if the stadium situation gets resolved. It is hard to remember that FC Cincinnati is less than two years old.
“From Our Haus to Yours”