Coming into Wednesday night, FC Cincinnati had the chance to clinch a first round home playoff game but it was not to be as the Orange & Blue drew 0-0 away to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The shutout was the 8th of the year for the club and the second this year against Pittsburgh.
Starters (4-4-2): GK: Hildebrandt; (R-L)Luke, Lee, Delbridge, Polak; Wiedeman, Nicholson (85′), Walker, Mohamed (45′); Townsend (72), Okoli
Subs: Jaye, Berry, Bone (18′), McLaughlin (45′), Ripoll, Stevenson (5′), Tomaselli
In a departure from his typical starting XI rotation for the year, Coach Harkes gave several players a rare start for the season. Evan Lee was given the nod over captain Austin Berry at center back while Omar Mohamed was given his first career USL start on the wing. Wednesday night also marked the first appearance in the Orange & Blue for newly acquired forward Casey Townsend.
The first half started with FCC in a 4-4-2 formation pairing Okoli and Townsend up top to try and work off each other to see if they could create some offense. Omar Mohamed showed some flashes getting up and down the side as FC Cincinnati controlled the ball for the majority of the first half. With the new additions you could see there were small hiccups here and there but overall they looked pretty cohesive for not playing together much. Unfortunately the away side was unable to take advantage of the majority of possession and nothing amounted to much as the Orange & Blue were unable to get good chances on goal.
FC Cincinnati made their first change to start the 2nd half as Jimmy McLaughlin replaced Mohamed on the wing. They controlled most of the possession in the early part of the half and nearly had a winner in 66th minute. Andrew Wiedeman battled hard up the side and pushed the ball near the 6 yard box. The ball bounced around the area until it found the foot of Townsend. As he went to shoot he laid back and launched the ball off the top of the crossbar.
Towards the 2nd part of the half, the match turned into a long ball fest. Both teams played conservative soccer launching the ball downfield hoping for a stroke of luck to help them break through. Pittsburgh had their best chance in the 74th minute when Mitch Hildebrandt got a little too careless with a free kick and Pittsburgh forward Corey Hertzog deflected the kick behind the keeper. Luckily the ball went just wide of the away team goal and everybody was able to breathe a little easier.
From then on was probably one of the poorer 20 minutes of play for FC Cincinnati this season. There was not a lot of rhythm and flow to the game with neither team looking to take charge and go to goal. There were a couple long chances by both teams but at the end of 90 the score ended in a 0-0 draw.
The draw puts FC Cincinnati in 3rd at 50 points with 2 matches to go. A win would have secured a first round home match as the Charlotte vs. Richmond bout ended 0-0.
The simplest way to clinch a home match is on Saturday night. If that doesn’t occur, the magic number is 52. Richmond, Charlotte, and Charleston are all sitting on 45 points with 2 matches to go. The only way for these 3 to catch FCC is to win both their matches and have the Orange & Blue falter in their last 2 games.
The battle for the 3rd seed is still up for grabs. Charlotte is 1 point behind FC Cincinnati but holds a 8 goal advantage in goal differential.
CST Player of the Year Award
CincinnatiSoccerTalk.com is having our first-ever CST Player of the Year Award. CST readers will get to vote on the nominees put forward by our staff. You can vote by clicking on the poll below or research the top contenders here first. Voting ends after the final regular season game.
@bradleysweigel for @cincysoccertalk