FC Cincinnati defeated FC Montreal 2-1 on a hot sticky evening at Nippert Stadium. The temperature at kickoff was 88 degrees but artificial turf is supposed to add 10 degrees making it close to 100 degrees for the players.
Coach John Harkes kept his starting XI from the previous game against Richmond with midfielder Eric Stevenson again getting the nod over Ross Tomaselli. Kenney Walker again played deep as the holding mid cleaning up during transitions and picking up the only yellow card of the match.
The Starting XI was as follows: GK- Hildebrandt; Def (L-R)- Polak, Delbridge, Nicholson, McMahon; Mid- Bone, Walker (Tomaselli 59′), McLaughlin (Hoppenot 59′), Stevenson (Lee 83′), Wiedeman; Fwd- Okoli (Cummings 69′)
In the 34th minute, Sean Okoli did a nice flick to beat his defender but was subsequently taken down in the box. He drew the penalty kick which he coolly converted. In the second half, Stevenson and Okoli linked up in the 48th minute with a beautiful cross from Stevenson and a precision finish from Okoli.
FC Cincinnati out shot Montreal 12-10 in the game, with many of Montreal’s shots coming late in the game. Hildebrandt was only called on to make 3 saves, tallying 2 of them.
Here is our individual player rating from Saturday night’s game.
Hildebrandt: 7 – Mitch wasn’t really tested much in this game. Only 2 saves made. He came out when needed and lead out of the back. Not much Hildebrandt could do on the final goal. There was a lot of congestion around the box and the ball was struck well, low and in the corner.
Polak: 5.5 – Polak has a very challenging job. Going forward and contributing to the attack, getting back and defending on counters and taking crosses wherever and whenever a left footed kicker has an advantage. The left side with McLaughlin never really got going in the attack and some of his service was a bit off, but there were no significant mistakes.
Delbridge: 7.5 – Delbo was a rock in the back. He was there to pick up so many balls showing both physicality and finesse as needed. He had some great opportunities to score on set pieces but still struggles to put them away. The only real negative in my mind was that he worked so hard that he was physically wiped at the end and struggled to effectively clear the ball.
Nicholson: 7.5 – Was great to see Nicholson put in a full 90 again. He and Delbridge make a daunting pair in the back. He got a little more quiet on the field when he moved to midfield in the last 10 minutes.
McMahon: 6.5 – Good performance by McMahon this week. He and Stevenson and Wiedeman had a lot of great combinations down the right side of the field. No real issues getting caught high in this game.
Bone: 6 – Bone has taken on a less visible role with this lineup. Stevenson tends to go forward more and get involved with the attach. Walker hangs back and cleans up in the holding position. Bone is a quiet maestro connecting players and filling in holes. Solid performance for 90 minutes.
Walker: 6 – Walker was again asked to play in a more defensive position and he did that well. Was physical and snuffed out several plays. Some of his passes and crosses were a little off and he unfortunately drew a yellow and then a warning from the referee. Coach Harkes had to pull him early simply to ensure he didn’t draw a second yellow.
McLaughlin: 5.5 – McLaughlin showed signs of the quick bursts of speed and fancy footwork, but never really got dangerous. The left side of the FCC attack in general was quiet for much of the game.
Stevenson: 6.5 – Stevenson is a late addition to the starting 11, but is out to prove he deserves the spot. He fits in very nicely with McLaughlin and Wiedeman. He is young, quick, creative and willing to take on 4 defenders if need be. He still seems to disconnect with the others at times but he is an exciting player and the cross to Okoli was a gift with a bow on it.
Wiedeman: 7 – Wiedeman’s work rate this game was incredible. He charged and defenders the entire game and was second only to Okoli on shots taken. Though he didn’t tally any points for this game, he gave the Montreal defense fits and served a lot of balls into the box.
Okoli: 8 – Okoli looked really good this game. Easy to say that when he scores a brace but it was his work rate throughout the game that earns him top score this week. He got involved in combinations, won so many 50-50 balls as a target striker and kept the Montreal defense under pressure. His creativity and energy earned him the PK and his clinical finish was spot on for the second. More please……
Tomaselli (59′): 5.5 – Walker was holding a yellow and seemed to have the ire of the referee so Tomaselli needed to come on, keep the midfield solid, slow things down a a bit and diffuse the situation. He did the effectively but also never really seemed to own the position.
Hoppenot (59′): 5.5 – The quick creative super sub was pretty quiet when he took the pitch. He never seemed to get in sync with Cummings or Okoli and he didn’t get a lot of chances to run down the side and challenge the Montreal defense.
Cummings (69′): 6 – Cummings is so quick and can get behind the defense and cause so much trouble. It looked like he was going to get a third goal for FCC within a minute of taking the pitch but the keeper made a great save. Need for that energy and those chances to continue in intensity for a bit longer.
Lee(83′): 5.5 – Tough to come into a game as a center defender in the last 10 minutes while the other team is fighting like mad for a goal. No real mistakes but Lee needs to assert his large presence in the back.
Toronto FC II – FC Cincinnati take on another Canadian team next Saturday, June 18th in Nippert Stadium. Toronto sits three from the bottom of the Eastern Conference with 12 points (3-7-3) after this weekend’s round of games. The MLS2 side is coming off a 2-1 victory against the Rhinos but will have a midweek game before venturing south to play Cincinnati. Ironically, the 2 Eastern Conference Canadian teams play each other so FC Cincinnati bookends the Canadian derby playing each team before and after they play each other. This should be another very winnable game for the Orange and Blue and should help us hold onto our position near the top of the standings.