After FC Cincinnati fell to the Baby Bulls mid-week, there were doubters. Naysayers who applauded what FC Cincinnati had accomplished this season, but felt we just weren’t ready to beat a team at the top of the table. We were a playoff team for sure, but maybe that was good enough. The Orange and Blue weren’t ready to be discounted, though, and tonight they came out of the locker room and treated a crowd of 20,151 to some great soccer. Despite temperatures on the pitch in excess of 100 degrees, the boys didn’t let up. They pressed until the final moments and then dug in with grit and held for a clean sheet.
Coach Harkes had his hands full figuring out the plan for the game. Walker picked up an injury against New York and was out. Nicholson, to everyone’s surprise, was also out injured for this game. Team Captain, Berry, was back but was yet to play an entire game as he is slowly working himself back to full match fitness. Tomaselli was on the bench but picked up an injury during the Crystal Palace game. So, when many of your defensive players are injured or recovering, what do you do?
If you’re Coach Harkes, you make lemonade out of lemons. You fill your lineup with attacking players and bring the game to your opponent. You roll out a new formation you’ve never used before and show off the depth of your bench and the flexibility of the team itself.
The team lined up in a 4-1-4-1. This is the first time we’ve seen FCC line up in this formation. The back line was mostly the same with Berry stepping in for Nicholson. Bone, typically an attacking mid, took the holding mid position and then four attacking mids lined up behind Okoli. McLaughlin out left as would be expected, Cummings out right as we’ve seen him do occasionally, but Wiedeman interestingly lined up central with Stevenson. This turned out to be very fortunate…
In the 39th minute, Bone took a free kick just inside the LouCity half. He was targeting Cummings, who wasn’t able to beat his defender but was able to pressure enough to cause the ball to be poorly cleared. Wiedeman was at the top of the box, rushed in, and managed to barrel through the defense and slot the ball into the far post.
39' – @awiedeman3 puts it in the back of the net to give FCC a 1-0 lead #FCCincy pic.twitter.com/ryieubwz5U
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) July 23, 2016
FC Cincinnati was not finished though. In the 58th minute, Bone took corner kick and found Okoli who had managed to elude his mark, leaped and buried the ball in the net off a brilliant header.
59' – @AskAboutUgo heads one in off the corner kick to give FCC a 2-0 lead! #FCCincy pic.twitter.com/DvtfJH0ogX
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) July 23, 2016
With the intense heat and, for Cincinnati, the rigors of 3 intense games in 8 days, both teams used all 5 of their subs. We saw Luke come in for McMahon at the half. Mohamed replaced Okoli pushing Cummings to the striker position around the 60th minute. Narbon replaced Stevenson around the 70th minute. Berry made it to the 80th minute and was replaced by Lee. Finally, in the 87th minute, Cummings was relieved by Spencer. The transition was gentle, but the changes moved the team to a more defensive stance and gave LouCity move ability to press. The Orange and Blue held strong, and though there were a few close calls, the lines held. Mitch and his back line get credit for another clean sheet.
Bone came up huge in this game. Not only did he start off both goals with great service, but he was active in so many plays offensively, and defensively, he broke up so many of the runs from LouCity. Maybe that wasn’t his traditional position, but no one watching for the first time would have ever guessed it.
River City Cup / Dirty River Derby
When the final whistle had blown, FCC defeated Louisville 2-0, snapping their 17 game unbeaten streak, and claiming the River City Cup for the 2016 season. The 3 game series resulted in both teams tied on points with 4 points each, each earning a win, a draw and a loss. The aggregate score, though, favored the hometown boys 4-3.
It was a brutal day. In the stands, the fans were melting. On the pitch, well, Wiedeman put it best. “It was so damn hot out there.” When asked about the difference between playing a few weeks ago in Louisville to a scoreless draw versus tonight at home, Wiedeman said that tactically, “We didn’t have that infield to try to navigate around.” I guess this is what soccer looks like when you don’t play on a baseball field.
If anyone felt, that they missed out because there wasn’t a ceremony for the winner of the River City Cup. If you wanted to see the team didn’t gather round and hoist the cup in the air. Well, hopefully, this is almost as good.
And your champs are @ThePrideCincy 5-3 (5-4) pic.twitter.com/QQoPstNFLO
— Cincy Soccer Talk (@cincysoccertalk) July 23, 2016
The Pride played the Coopers this morning in the second leg of the Plastic Cup. Though the Coopers beat our hometown supporters 0-1 on the road in the first leg. Today’s battle was a goal fest ending with a score of 5-3, enough the lift the Pride and secure the Plastic Cup for 2016.
Next weekend, FC Cincinnati will take on the Charleston Battery at home. Our last meeting was away in Charleston for the very first USL game ever played by FCC. The weather was awful, and Charleston is a fortress. FCC held the game scoreless until conceding a goal in stoppage time to fall 0-1.
Charleston did FCC and Louisville a huge favor today. They defeated the Baby Bulls 3-2. This obviously shows that this is a quality team that will be a huge challenge for us next weekend. It also means that New York doesn’t bounce ahead in the standings. The top 4 spots are very tight with only 7 points separating the 1st and 4th pace teams.
|Louisville City FC||20||12||2||6||42||37||19||18|
|New York Red Bulls II||19||12||2||5||41||33||15||18|
@billwwolf for @cincysoccertalk