Head Coach John Harkes employed a 4-2-3-1 formation with a starting line up of:
GK: Hildebrandt; D (L-R): Polak, Delbridge, Nicholson, McMahon; M: Walker, Tomaselli, McLaughlin, Bone, Wiedeman; F: Okoli
Georgi Hristov got the Tampa Bay Rowdies on the board early as he received a ball delivered over-the-top of the FC Cincinnati defense in the 11th minute. Hristov beat right back Pat McMahon who was playing higher up the pitch. The Rowdies forward made center back Paul Nicholson over commit and slotted home a near post strike.
— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) June 2, 2016
The best offensive chance in the first half for FC Cincinnati came from Kenney Walker. Walker had his close volley saved by Rowdies keeper Matt Pickens in the 8th minute. He could have aimed better, but did make the Rowdies keeper work. Tampa Bay enjoyed several good opportunities from their forwards who made smart runs in between the Cincinnati back four. Any FC Cincinnati chances late in the first half came from long crosses that rarely found their target at Sean “Ugo” Okoli’s feet. The Orange and Blue did enjoy a slight advantage in possession, but were dominated in aerial battles and 50-50 balls.
Play opened up in the second half as John Harkes committed numbers forward. FC Cincinnati almost got on the board when Ross Tomaselli connected on a long low far post chance that Pickens barely handled. FC Cincinnati had a couple additional defensive lapses including a 50th minute chance where Tampa Bay was almost allowed a point blank shot.
Chances for FC Cincinnati really started to ramp up after the 58th minute when Harrison Delbridge put a header just above the cross bar. Jimmy McLaughlin had a chance in the 65th minute when he was dragged down outside the box, but the ref held his whistle. McLaughlin continued to battle on the left including winning a foul in the 78th minute just outside the box.
Opportunities also came on the right side of the field as Wiedeman and McMahon began to connect more and wore down the Tampa Bay left back. McMahon had a point blank chance in the 75th minute but couldn’t get the handle and fluffed the ball to the keeper. Sub Antoine Hoppenot continued to make an impact late in games as he found some space on the left post, but missed his close shot wide. FC Cincinnati’s final chance was in the 4th minute of stoppage time as Okoli barely missed a low free kick wide. Subs Evan Lee and Omar Cummings did not make much of an impact. I was surprised Hoppenot and Cummings were not brought on earlier as it was evident many FC Cincinnati players had heavy feet.
With the loss, FC Cincinnati is eliminated from the 2016 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
Hildebrandt: 6 – Mitch played well vs. Tampa Bay. His defenders let him down several times, but he is really beginning to own his box.
Polak: 4 – Tyler made one or two positive passes in the final third, but was beaten several times by the Rowdies attack. His service was also weak killing several good chances.
Delbridge: 6.5 – Harrison was only turned around once or twice during the game. He could have done better with some of the offensive corners, but I was surprised he played in this game after the beating he took on the weekend. He continues to show heart even after opening up his facial wound on another elbow. Any aerial battles won, were won by Delbridge.
Nicholson (Lee 46’): 5 – Easily Nicholson’s worse match. He continued to have communication issues with his full backs and Delbridge. Mitch had to step in late in the first half to position the back line. Was subbed out at half.
McMahon: 4.5 – The only reason McMahon and Polak don’t have the same rating is that Pat did work his way into more good attacking sequences. He is found out repeatedly when he has to face a pacey winger or forward. Not one of his best matches, but he looked very tired.
Walker (Hoppenot 88’): 6.5 – I felt that Walker was the Man of the Match for FC Cincinnati. Any play through the middle in the first half ran through him and I admire his work rate. The consistent theme is that he looked tired as well. He could have also done better on his first shot.
Tomaselli (Cummings 78’): 5.5 – Quiet night for Ross, but he did not provide enough defensive cover in the first half. Did step up to make some challenges, but FCC needed a stronger performance.
McLaughlin: 6 – Jimmy seemed like a different player in the 2nd half. He displays creativity that adds to the attack well. Tough to work alongside Polak tonight. Was able to get more solo chances in 2nd.
Bone: 5.5 – Did not make a huge impact, but had arguably one of the best scoring chances for FC Cincinnati. Bone appeared to be taken down just outside the box by Perkins, but continued to play and FCC earned a corner. Needs to provide more defensive pressure against a physical team like the Rowdies.
Wiedeman: 5.5 – Could have taken his chances better, but was able to be more creative in the second half. His passing with McMahon is one of the best pieces when FC Cincinnati attack, but his finishing was not there. Good shift, just needs to get more on target.
Okoli: 5 – There were moments when I didn’t even see Ugo. His movement off the ball was very poor and he rarely won any aerial battles. I do feel bad that several crosses into him were hard to handle and that is why he is not rated lower. The free kick at the end was very tough, but he took it well.
Lee (46’): 6 – It was good that we did not see too much of Lee. He was not tested as much in the 2nd half, but could have done better on one offensive set when he passed back instead of delivering to midfield. Can’t say much negative.
Cummings (78’): 5 – Was forced into a more passing role and never really threatened in attack. FC Cincinnati needed the veteran to challenge the back line more and bring a calm to the team. Needless to say, he did not fully accomplish this.
Hoppenot (88’): N/R – Antoine did scuff a shot, and won a good free kick in his 7+ minutes. I wish he would have been entered earlier. Continues to impress off the bench.
I would be remiss to not point out how hard the squad battled. They did win the possession game, but fell flat in finishing. The grit and dedication they displayed will win them more games than not. Sometimes you are tired and you lose. I believe that played into this situation.
Overall, I think this team is still winning the hearts and minds of Cincinnati. Most fans should display how proud they are of the fight shown.
Up Next: Richmond Kickers
When: Saturday, June 4th at 7 p.m. – Nippert Stadium
The Kickers make their Cincinnati debut this Saturday in Nippert Stadium. Richmond (4W-4L-3T) sits at 7th place in the USL Eastern Conference on 15 points. On Wednesday afternoon, the Kickers played a full 120 minutes to a 1-1 scoreline vs. the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers of the NASL in Open Cup play. Their game was delayed due to weather and was decided 2-0 in penalty kicks with the Strikers coming out on top. Richmond absorbed the attack most of the game as was fortunate to get to penalties. The Kickers went 0-4 from the spot with Ft. Lauderdale needing only 2 successful tries to win the match and advance to the 4th round. Richmond is coming off a home loss to cellar dweller FC Montreal and a tie to league leading LouCity. Make sure to check out CincinnatiSoccerTalk.com later in the week for our match preview of Saturday’s match.