1107 fans braved a cold evening for their first taste of FC Cincinnati soccer played in Cincinnati this year. The Orange and Blue defeated the Bearcats 2-0, getting their first clean sheet of the preseason. FCC out shot UC 23 to 5 with 10 shots on goal versus 4 from the Bearcats. Coach Koch continued to use the preseason to give playing time to a large percentage of his roster. As we’ve seen in previous games, he rotated out nearly the entire squad at halftime.
Djiby Fall had an impact throughout the entire first half, showing the preseason form that earned him 2 goals at IMG in Florida. In the 13th minute, Djiby got on the end of a cross into the box from Delbridge and with one touch, launched a bullet just over the crossbar. Two minutes later, off a cross from Bahner, Djiby tapped the ball to Fordyce who got a shot off on goal though it was easily handled by Skinner. In the 28th minute, Djiby nearly had a goal after heading a ball into the back of the net. Fall’s header off a Dacres cross was rejected by the ref who ruled the striker had pushed off a Bearcat defender. Djiby made his opinion known to the referee obviously unhappy with the call. Only one minute later, Djiby got vindication striking the ball into the net off a free kick from Aodhan Quinn.
Djiby continued to press the Bearcat defense taking a shot in the 36th minute which Skinner saved, preventing a brace from the striker. The pairing of Fordyce and Fall provided the Northern Irishman another opportunity in the 40th minute off a nice one-two combination. As the half came to a close, Djiby made one last effort to get a second goal but his strike hit the post and then was deflected off the line from the rebound strike.
Kadeem Dacres managed several shots and we saw strikes from McLaughlin and Walker as well. Cincinnati ended the exciting half having taken 16 shots.
The second half started with an almost completely new lineup for FCC. Andy Craven is the target man but this lineup leads to most of the shots coming out of the midfield. Stevenson, Mansaray and Wiedeman all looked dangerous and getting looks. Finally, in the 67th minute, the Orange and Blue tally a second when Mansaray ripped a ball at the keeper who manages to deflect the ball away only to have Wiedman knock it home.
With a comfortable lead, Coach Koch makes a few final subs bringing in Derek Luke and Omar Cummings. Luke is recovering from a recent surgery and Cummings is coming back from a season-ending knee injury in 2016. Both looked good in their short time back on the pitch. In the 79th minute, FC Cincinnati almost got a third goal when Stevenson is brought down in the box. Wiedeman, trying to get his second goal of the night, puts a little too much on the ball from the spot and sent it off the upper right post. Both the final subs saw action in the last ten minutes with Cummings getting a couple shots, the last one in the 89th minute going just left of goal. In the 90th minute, UC got one last look at goal, but Luke cleared the ball off the line.
FC Cincinnati Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Hildebrandt (46′)(GK), Bahner (46′), Trialist (76′), Delbridge (46′), Polak (46′), K.Walker (46′), Quinn (46′), Dacres (46′), Fordyce (46′), McLaughlin (46′), Fall (46′)
Subs: Jaye (46′) (GK),Williams (GK), Bone (46′), Craven (30′), Cummings (16′), Dominguez (46′), Halfhill (46′), Luke (16′), Mansaray (46′), McMahon (46′), Nicholson (46′), Stevenson (46′), A.Walker, Wiedeman (46′)
University of Cincinnati Starting XI: Skinner (92′)(GK), Hay (92′), Nielsen (85′), Sanz (84′), Clarke (80′), Clark (68′), Melville (74′), Mowery (79′), Smythe (76′), Melink (80′), West (92′)
Subs: Ecklar (16′), Helbig (18′), Iroh (35′), Lindqvist (28′), Valencia (12′)
Click for Live Stats from University of Cincinnati
- 29′ – FC Cincinnati – Djiby Fall (assist Aodhan Quinn)
- 68′ – FC Cincinnati – Andrew Wiedeman
The defense earned a clean sheet this evening, their first of the preseason. We’ve seen that Coach Koch has been working with the team on building out of the back and defensive shape and it looks like some of that is starting to gel. A lot has been made about scoring 62 goals this season. The reality is that we only need 32 goals if we can also earn 32 clean sheets. It takes time to get back lines to develop the understanding they need to work as a single unit. We struggled with this early last season and seeing this developing in the preseason is very promising.
With Berry injured from the Sacramento game and Luke recovering from his surgery, defensive depth is obviously a concern. It was nice to see two trialists at the game this evening playing the back line. Cincinnati Soccer Talk identified one as Gary Halfhill, a Xavier University product. The other trialist played center back in the first half and left back in the second half. He looked promising. Though a little shorter than a typical center back, his positioning was good and he linked up with the mids well. As a left back, he provided some pace and created some chances for the offense in the second half. This makes three defensive trialists we’ve seen so far in the preseason. The club is obviously targeting additional players to augment their defense going into the season.
We saw a lot of the 4-1-4-1 formation in previous games, but for this one, Koch rolled out a 4-2-3-1. Having a second holding mid seemed to really help keep the defense secure. It did not appear to reduce the ability of the team to go forward and create opportunities either. In fact, with less attacking pieces, it seemed to open up a little more space for creativity and we saw a lot more linking and one-two combos in the final third than from previous games.
Credit: Alex Vehr
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