FC Cincinnati drew the Rochester Rhinos 1-1 at Nippert Stadium Wednesday night. Austin Berry netted for the Orange & Blue in the match while Steevan Dos Santos scored for Rochester.
With Sean Okoli suspended after picking up his 5th yellow card of the season at Richmond, Coach Harkes had to dip into his playbook of tricks as he rolled out a 3-5-2 formation for the first time this year. In addition to the formation change, Harkes made to changes to the Starting XI in defender Paul Nicholson and midfielder Kenney Walker. Both had been on the recovery from injuries they sustained over the last couple of matches.
Goalkeeper: Mitch Hildebrandt
Back Line: Austin Berry, Paul Nicholson, Harrison Delbridge
Midfielders: PatMcMahon, Corben Bone, Jimmy McLaughlin (89′-Ripoll), Kenney Walker (68′-Hoppenot), Tyler Polak (78′-Luke)
Forwards: Omar Cummings (42′-Stevenson), Andrew Wiedeman
Rochester trotted out a 5-4-1 with leading goal scorer Christian Volesky as the loan striker. With 11 goals on the year, Volesky was supported by a midfield led by Steevan Dos Santos and Kenardo Forbes.
The 3-5-2 got off to a rough start as Rochester was on the front foot for the majority of the half. Kenardo Forbes was able to get in on the FC Cincinnati defense in the 1st minute and forced Mitch Hildebrandt to make a diving shot that ended up leading to a corner for the away side.
Things didn’t get much easier for the home team as Rochester pressured the back 3 for much of the half and were unable to connect with their outlet midfielder in Corben Bone. There were as lot of sloppy passes and turnovers that put Rochester in dangerous positions.
After spending most of the first half resorting to long balls into the box, the Orange & Blue finally started to get some things going their way and got on the board first. Tyler Polak took a short corner and sliced a ball into the box to the head of Austin Berry where he was able to head to ball just inside the left post past the outstretched arms of keeper Tomas Gomez.
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) August 24, 2016
FC Cincinnati nearly scored again in the 41st minute when Wiedeman flicked a pass on to Cummings in the box. Cummings was unable to bring the ball down and ended up colliding with Tomas. It looked like Cummings injured his right leg during the play but was able to get off the pitch under his power.
Play continued as Cummings was being evaluated buy the training staff and Rochester was able to take advantage of being up a man. Steevan Dos Santos found the ball in the middle of the box after Austin Berry and Pat McMahon were unable to stop the Rochester offense put the shot inside the left corner to tie the game at 1-1.
Cummings had to come off due to the injury and was replaced by Eric Stevenson shortly after the goal. There wasn’t much action left in the half and it finished with the scored unchanged.
The second half started out a bit chippy as both teams were called for early fouls. Jimmy McLaughlin was shown the yellow in the 55th minute after tugging the jersey of a Rochester player directly in front of the Head Official. Shortly after there was a tangle in the box between Walker and Vasileios Apostolopoulos. Vasileios looked to have taken a dive to get a foul in the box but nothing was called and cooler heads prevailed.
The game continued to be physical around the 60th minute with FC Cincinnati conceding a lot of the possession. Kenney Walker was removed from the game at the 68th minute in favor of Antoine Hoppenot. With the game shifting away from the home team, Harkes changed the formation to a 4-2-3-1 with Wiedeman up top and moved Nicholson into the midfield.
FC Cincinnati was able to stave off a scary moment in the 82nd minute when a Rochester corner got mixed up in the box. Pat McMahon was able to keep it off the goal line and Mitch made a last second save to avoid conceding another late goal.
The Orange & Blue almost escaped with a late 3 points but it was not meant to be. Pat McMahon put a ball into the box with 30 seconds left that Wiedeman was able to hit towards goal. The high arcing header caused Gomez trouble but deflected of the top of the crossbar and out of play.
It’s hard not to be frustrated after a match where you felt the opposing team was in control and held the majority of possession. Yes the Okoli suspension and Cummings did not help matters but it came down to the inability of FC Cincinnati to hold on to the ball and build from the back. Corben Bone mentioned in the press conference that especially in the first half it was tough for the back 3 to get him the ball to provide an outlet for them when he was surrounded by the midfield of Rochester. That got the club out of their rhythm and led to a lot of long balls out of the back and turnovers.
When Harkes was asked about Cummings first half injury, he relayed that the injury looked to be a hyper-extended knee but an MRI will take placed to diagnose if there is any damage.
On the positive side we saw the debut of Spanish midfielder Alvaro Anton Ripoll. When asked about Ripoll after the game Harkes mentioned that he had been putting in a lot of good work at practice putting the ball in the net and is now finally fit after 4 months of injuries.
In the end a point is a point and it gets FCC closer to 2nd place, just 4 points behind Louisville City with 2 games in hand. Coupled with the Wilmington result tonight, the draw almost assures FCC a playoff spot. A Cincinnati win on Sunday or a dropped point on Saturday by Wilmington guarantees the Orange & Blue a playoff appearance in their inaugural season.