Things did not get off on the right foot for FC Cincinnati as the Charleston Battey continue to have our number defeating the Orange & Blue 2-1 in the Palmetto State. FC Cincinnati continued to dominate possession but struggled to create quality opportunities in the final third. Not to lose sight of the many positives that did show for Coach Koch’s men, Djiby Fall notched his first official goal for FCC after 5 in the preseason.
In the first 30′ of the game, FC Cincinnati was able to create several chances going forward but were not able to capitalize. The Lionhearted managed 60% possession through the match but were outshot 17-15 (14-7 on frame). Two free kicks by Aodhan Quinn and one by Kenney Walker failed generate any points and allowed the Charleston Battery to strike first.
A Battery player was allowed to run at the centerbacks after a lack of press by Aodhan Quinn. The ball was deflected out for a corner in the 38′. Midfielder Justin Portillo’s corner found the head of Forrest Lasso after Hilderbrandt was able to punch it away. Lasso directed the ball into the back of the net to allow the home team a 1-0 lead going into halftime.
FC Cincinnati resorted to long balls and playing it wide into the head of Djiby. These buildups looked to stagnate early, but a great cut followed by a cross from Andrew Wiedeman found Djiby Fall in the 59′ who expertly headed it home. Fall continues to impress. His work rate all game was impressive and he could absolutely threaten Sean Okoli’s scoring mark from 2016.
As the momentum looked to be in FC Cincinnati’s favor, Captain Austin Berry hastily misjudged a tackle against forward Romario Williams in the box and Charleston were awarded a penalty. Justin Portillo stepped up to the spot and was immediately denied by Hildebrandt, but the ball deflected back to Portillo who sent home the winning goal.
Coach Koch substituted in Corben Bone, Kadeem Dacres and Omar Cummings, but neither of them added a spark in the attempted comeback. Charleston could have added a 3rd in the final minutes, but rock Harrison Delbridge made an amazing slide tackle to deny Romario Williams.
Coach Koch will want more from the Orange & Blue next week in Pittsburgh. The midfield trifecta of Fordyce, Quinn and Walker couldn’t generate enough chances through the center of the park. At one time it looked like Koch moved Fordyce forward to resemble a 4-4-2. The Charleston Battery continued to wreak havoc denying FC Cincinnati of their first win vs. the low-county side.
FC Cincinnati Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Hildebrandt (GK); (R-L) Bahner, Berry, Delbridge, Polak; Quinn (74′), K. Walker; Wiedeman (80′), Fordyce (80′), McLaughlin; Fall
Subs: Jaye (GK), Nicholson, Dacres (10’+), Mansaray, Cummings (10’+), Bone (16’+), McMahon
Charleston Battery Starting XI (4-4-1-1): Tabakis (GK); (R-L) Griffith, Mueller, Lasso, Ambrose; Chang (87′), Portillo, Hackshaw, Marini; Guerrea (90’+2); Williams (83′)
Subs: Cooper (GK), Otto, Cordoves (7’+), Garbanzo (ET), Anunga (3’+), Thomas, Rittmeyer
- 38′ – Charleston Battery – Forrest Lasso (Portillo)
- 59′ – FC Cincinnati – Djiby Fall (Wiedeman)
- 71′ – Charleston Battery – Justin Portillo
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Stagnant Midfield – The highlight of the last two preseason matches was the play of the central midfield. Tonight, the pace and fierceness of the Charleston midfield, out-matched the trio of Fordyce, Quinn and Walker. These three did have several moments moving forward that you could see seeds of greatness. The quick combinations looked to break down Charleston several times, but FCC would resort to long balls and the deep lying Quinn and Walker could not play off Fordyce and Fall. Look for Koch to try and unite the midfield next week.
Djiby Keeps it Going – Djiby continues to impress as a member of the Orange & Blue. The Senegalese striker was forced to go against large CB’s Taylor Mueller and Forrest Lasso and succeeded in the 59′. He would try to rotate to different sides of the field trying to create different looks, but FC Cincinnati got desperate and tried to play long balls to Djiby & Fordyce. Both newcomers will only get better with time and I look forward to seeing Djiby against Pittsburgh next week.
Set Pieces & Blunders – Set pieces continue to haunt vs. Charleston. Hildebrandt couldn’t get his fist on the end of a corner kick in the 38′ and Lasso made him pay. That corner kick could have been prevented in the back four had the two d-mids communicated better. The space allowed on that runup was unacceptable. Charleston’s second goal was a result of an absolute howler from Austin Berry. The back four had actually played fairly well outside of this Berry blunder. I’m not sure what Berry saw before tackling Williams, but the foul was an absolute head scratcher with many FCC players even showing their displeasure. Saturday was just not the night for FC Cincinnati.
Saturday 4/1 at Pittsburgh Riverhounds – 4 p.m. EST – Highmark Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA.