USL Preseason Game 2: FC Cincinnati vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
FC Cincinnati started the match with a strong eleven. Koch entered the second match of the preseason with a 4-2-3-1 formation. Surprisingly, Corben Bone started in the #10 attacking midfield role while the expected CAM, Naz Albadawi, was used behind Bone as a Box to Box midfielder.
The wind was blowing in Bradenton, FL and it was evident from the first couple wild kicks. Tampa Bay did a better job in the first half of keeping the ball on the pitch and was able to connect passes on the ground through the midfield.
Both teams generated chances in the first half but possession favored the Rowdies. FC Cincy was slow at shutting down lanes on defense. On the offensive side, Cincinnati struggled against a Rowdies press, especially against Flemmings and Fernandes. Unlike the Revolution, Tampa was quick to swarm any player who received the ball.
In our post-match interview Coach Alan Koch chalked the performance off to tired legs. He didn’t seem pleased but noted that he ran the guys ragged this week in practice and it showed in their play.
In the end FC Cincinnati did what they needed to on defense to keep the Rowdies off the scoreboard. Forrest Lasso used his head to clear away one dangerous chance and the back line held when called upon.
After swapping the squad at halftime, FC Cincinnati’s depth showed. The Orange and Blue brought in Halfhill, Newton, Bahner, Keinan, DeWit, Cicerone and four trialists. Tampa Bay Rowdies had a few key second-half players of their own. Hunter Gorskie, Neill Collins, Marcel Schafer and Georgi Hristov to name a few.
The match opened up more for Cincinnati in the second half and both teams played back and forth. A scary moment occurred in the 55th minute as Hristov put one in the back of the net but sideline judge threw up his offside flag. Shortly thereafter, Halfhill nearly got one of his own as a cross came in from Cicerone fell just short of connecting. Newton had a couple saves but his big moment came in the 59th minute. He was able to stop a Tampa header to the back post.
The star of the match was Garrett Halfhill who had his moment in the 63rd minute. A beautiful run of passes opened up space at the top of the box and Halfhill placed his goal in the left corner. Halfhill, the former Xavier trialist, is showing why FC Cincinnati moved him up to the main squad. Seymore and McLaughlin were subbed midway through the second half and were able to get some precious minutes. FC Cincinnati held off a late surge from the Rowdies and walked away with a 1-0 victory.
- Depth – 2018 may be the first year FC Cincinnati is more scary off the bench than at the start of the match. The second group of players was able to hold their own against some big names in the Rowdies lineup. Alan Koch will be able to pick between a multitude of weapons to keep FC Cincinnati in the match this year. It will be interesting to see what kind of dangers lurk in the final eighteen.
- Experiments continue – It was a big surprise to see Bone playing in the attacking midfield role. He has played as a #10 in the past but with the arrival of Nazmi Albadawi, it was thought that Naz would start as a CAM with Bone & Kenney Walker laying deeper in midfield. Coach Koch told us this week that he will employ lineups based upon partnerships created within the squad. This could be the first indication that he see’s something working between those 3 and it might be best to employ Bone further up the pitch.
- Halfhill Continues to Impress – Cincinnati fans might remember the first time Halfhill took the pitch in Tampa Bay. FC Cincinnati lost that 2017 match and did not look very good The former Xavier product has continued to improve since then and is making a name for himself. Playing in a central defensive mid role, Halfhill was able to work himself into the attack. He could of easily put two on the board in this game. I’m not saying that he will push to start ahead of Bone, Walker, and Albadawi but maybe it is time to start paying more attention to Garrett Halfhill.
32′ – Cincinnati – Halfhill, assist Laing
Wednesday 2/14 @ 10:30am- vs Chicago Fire Reserves (MLS) – IMG Academy (match won’t be streamed)