On a night with a forecast of low temperatures and scattered showers, the orange and blue faithful braved the weather to see FC Cincinnati take on Xavier University in the final preseason match of 2017. Coach Koch chose a 4-2-3-1 formation once again with Hildebrandt, Bahner, Nicholson, Delbridge, Polak, K.Walker, Quinn, Mansaray, Fordyce, Wiedeman and Djiby. With the club releasing an update on Berry’s injury it was not surprising to see Nicholson step into the starting lineup.
The weather appeared to play a factor in the match with a light but constant mist causing the turf to become very slick. Both sides struggled to adjust to the speed of the ball on the pitch early on. Delbridge was active early, spoiling a Xavier attack with a sliding tackle in the 7th minute. It was apparent that the chemistry among the Orange and Blue is becoming stronger. With all of the new comers to this roster, it was expected for the squad to take some time to become a cohesive unit.
In the 21st minute Polak and Quinn worked the ball down the left sideline, earning Cincinnati a corner. A minute later FCC earned a throw in that ended up with a Wiedeman cross that found Delbridge who headed the ball into the back of the net. (GOAL 22nd minute. 1-0 FC Cincinnati)
Quinn was very vocal and could be heard directing his teammates during the match. His desire to aid his fellow squad members was evident very early in the evening, suggesting passing lanes pushing his team to attack.
In the 32nd minute, Delbridge started a one man attack taking the ball across midfield to take a strike from 25 yards out. He seemed to lose his footing on the slick pitch as the shot soared wide to the right. It was just one of many plays the defense became involved in FC Cincinnati attacking counter attacks. Bahner and Polak did very well working down the sidelines to provide attack support.
Roughly eight minutes from halftime, in the 37th, Victor Mansaray took possession of the ball and faked out two defenders while working towards the center of the box. Vic took an amazing strike that would be deflected out by the Xavier keeper. Right before halftime, Mansaray had another great strike that bounced off of the right post, inches away from a goal.
Right from the whistle in the second half Xavier came out with vengeance. The University squad worked the ball down the right side of the field with ease. Matt Vasquenza was able to get to the ball and slid it past Mitch Hildebrandt to tie the match at 1-1. (GOAL 46th minute, 1-1). It did not take FCC long to answer. In the 47th minute Mansaray earned Cincinnati a corner, quickly taken by Wiedman. He calmy dropped the ball back to Quinn at the top right corner of the 18 where he hit a beautiful shot curling the ball into the top left corner. (GOAL 48th minute, 2-1 FC Cincinnati)
Cincinnati would increase its lead in the 63rd minute. Wiedeman and Bahner worked the ball up the right sideline with precision. Getting to the box, Bahner calmly centered the ball to Djiby who scored with ease. (GOAL 63rd minute, 3-1 FC Cincinnati)
Xavier University did not go down without a fight. They were able to work the ball into attacking position to see a cross find its way past Cincinnati’s back line. The goal started with a cross in from the left. After a couple pin pong chances, Big East Defender of the Year Corey Brown was able to get his head on it and put it into the back of the net. (GOAL 68th minute, 3-2 FC Cincinnati)
Corey Brown and Xavier nearly tied it just before extra time when he hit a curler into the box that caused a lot of confusion for the FC Cincy back line. After a couple point blank chances, that honestly should have found the goal, Paul Nicholson looked to be the savior as he blocked a shot then was able to clear the ball to stop the pressure.
One last scoring opportunity for FC Cincinnati came in the 90th minute when McLaughlin made a run behind the opponents back line, one on one with the keeper his shot gets blocked. This was just one play of many where Polak and Bahner provided great support for attacking runs.
In the end, the Orange & Blue were able to hold on for the win earning back to back wins in front of the home crowd 8 days before their season opener in Charleston.
FC Cincinnati Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Hildebrandt (GK); Bahner, Nicholson, Delbridge, Polak; K.Walker, Quinn; Mansaray (66′), Fordyce, Wiedeman (86′); Fall (82′)
Subs: McLaughlin (66′), Craven (82′), Dacres(86′)
- 22′ – FC Cincinnati – Harrison Delbridge (assist Andrew Wiedeman)
- 46′ – Xavier University – Matt Vasquenza (assist Josh Grant)
- 48′ – FC Cincinnati – Aohdan Quinn
- 63′ – FC Cincinnati – Djiby Fall (assist Matt Bahner)
- 68′ – Xavier University – Cory Brown (assist Cameron Taylor)
With the season opener only one week away, Coach Koch used the last preseason match to solidify his line up decisions. It appears we will see Mansaray, Fordyce and Wiedeman lining up in an attacking midfield role with Djiby up top. K.Walker and Quinn locking down the defensive midfield positions, with a combination of Bahner, Nicholson (or Berry pending injury), Delbridge and Polak as the last line of defense. And of course Mitch Hildebrandt in goal. It will be interesting to see how this lineup evolves through the season.
For a second match in a row we have not seen Francisco Narbon travel with the club. There has not been an official announcement on his status with the club but with the depth at midfield it appears that he may not be in Cincinnati for the 2017 season. FC Cincinnati listed a trialist on the roster. While he did not make an appearance, we saw former Cincinnati Dutch Lion Garrett Halfhill on the bench from last weekend’s match. With the injury to Berry, we have to wonder if the club looking to add depth to its back line?
Vic the Winger
In an effort to utilize the talents of both new comers, Djiby and Mansaray, Coach Koch has been lining Victor Mansaray on the wing the last 2 matches. Naturally a striker, many Orange and Blue supporters thought that Victor’s minutes would be divided between himself and teammate Djiby Fall. I’m interested to see how Vic will evolve on the winger because with his skill set you’d like to get him on the pitch as much as possible.