Matchday – US Open Cup Rounds 2: FC Cincinnati vs. AFC Cleveland (NPSL)
Nippert Stadium – Attendance: 12,790
As the clock crept closer to the 120′ mark, fans began to understand the implications of not closing out what was a dominating performance from FC Cincinnati. The hero, Djiby Fall, would quell the fears of FC Cincinnati fans while dashing the dreams of AFC Cleveland with one of his trademark headers to seal passage for the home club into the third round of the US Open Cup.
Yes, I said a dominating performance and yes, there were some skittish moments, but FC Cincinnati was able to pull a 1-0 victory away after throwing 44 shots at AFC Cleveland. The match began and ended with the Orange & Blue on the front foot. Outside a nervy tackle by Delridge and a wonder-strike that grazed the bar for AFC Cleveland, the Royals were not much of an attacking threat.
There were no USL Opta stats for this match, but if there were, they would have shown a huge disparity in possession. The midfield trio of Nicholson, Stevenson and Dominguez acquitted themselves well in the match. They pressed high and forced many turnovers to create chances for FC Cincinnati. The youngster Dominguez would put in a strong 120′ and could have earned himself some additional playing time.
As the stats show, 44 shots with 1 goal point to a large inefficiency. The attacking third seemed to fall into a similar pattern of play it wide and cross to Djiby, or essentially a “three-point arc” style shot from FC Cincinnati. Wingers Victor Mansaray and Andrew Wiedeman did not put in their best performances. Crosses from either seemed to drift long and struggled to find their mark consistently. The later would provide a splendid cross on Djiby’s goal, but that was after he had slotted further back in the midfield and wasn’t coming off a run to the end line.
All three subs for FC Cincinnati had a great impact Wednesday. The second Corben Bone stepped on the pitch, the offense began to click for FCC. His pace and ability to make quick decisions on the ball went a long way to creating chances. The width of McLaughlin and the flair of Dacres began to make AFC Cleveland commit on them and left Djiby open for more opportunities. I hope the time these three played Wednesday will not hinder them for Saturday’s match vs. Bethlehem.
The back four of McMahon, Delbridge, Halfhill and Luke played well even though they didn’t come under fire ofter. The standouts of the back 4 were certainly Luke and Delbridge. Luke provided a great attacking threat off the wing which included two on-frame shots. As previously mentioned, while AFC Cleveland wasn’t a huge threat, the big Aussie stepped up when it mattered. He snuffed out what could have been a point-blank chance when Cleveland had numbers and stood strong all 120′.
Overall, the fans, players, and staff will be disappointed that they couldn’t close out Cleveland in regulation play, but still should be happy with the result. Make sure to check out our Three Things below on additional aspects of the match including the goal from Djiby.
— Mark Slaughter (@MarkVSlaughter) May 18, 2017
FC Cincinnati Starting XI (4-3-3): Jaye (GK); (R-L) McMahon, Halfhill, Delbridge, Luke; Dominguez, Stevenson (63′), Nicholson (83′); Mansaray (63′), Djiby, Wiedeman
Subs: Williams (GK), Bahner, Bone (63’+), Dacres (83’+), Fordyce, McLaughlin (63’+), Temguia
AFC Cleveland Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Ivanovev (GK); (R-L) Cvecko, McGivern, Long, Beck; Cancar (89), Derezic; Ware (75′), Suljevic, Harter; Truax (109′)
Subs: Bell, Karpeh (109’+), Klochko, Koniarczyk (75’+), Larson (89’+), Muca, Potocnik
117′ – FC Cincinnati – Djiby, (Wiedeman)
CHANCES: When looking at the stats image below, you will see the immense disparity between the teams. Credit to the midfield for snuffing out Cleveland’s chances, but it was unfortunate FCC couldn’t capitalize. It truly makes me wonder if Cincinnati is set up correctly. If we can’t score vs. a quality NPSL side, what makes me think we will score vs. quality USL squads? The subs went a long way in helping create more chances, but we have to be better.
SQUAD IMPRESSIONS: I say flat out that Dominquez, Delbridge, Luke and the subs impressed. I really liked how Dominguez would run into the attack and seemed comfortable on the ball. On the opposite side, I’d have to think Mansaray may be playing himself out of time. His first touch let him down repeatedly and almost every time he was on the ball in the attacking third he would put up his arms looking confused on where to go. Let’s hope something clicks for him and he can get into a high playing level.
IT’S A RESULT: A win is a win. Regardless of how it came, FC Cincinnati really needed to come off the pitch with a W. As I’ve said repeatedly, there were chances missed but it was nice to be on the right side of the score sheet. I’ll let this quote from Harrison Delbridge speak for itself. “We wanted results as this was a big game for us. Everyone played well but it’s nice to see guys have the opportunity to step up and show that resilience, especially after the way we were feeling after last Saturday’s match against Orlando City B.”
BONUS: WE GET TO PLAY LOUISVILLE TO ADVANCE IN THE CUP: According to US Soccer, the winner of FC Cincinnati and Louisville City will play Columbus Crew SC. Hosting will be determined Thursday afternoon.
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) May 18, 2017
Wednesday 5/20 – vs. Bethlehem Steel FC – 7 p.m. EST – Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH.