Today’s match between FC Cincinnati and Pittsburgh Riverhounds featured two teams fighting for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. The game featured FC Cincinnati’s 4th kit, the Orange tops for the #OrangeOut at Nippert Stadium.
Matchday #26: FC Cincinnati 1 vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds 1
Nippert Stadium – Attendance: 22,643
It was an extremely poor and sloppy start for FC Cincinnati. The bad signs were showing in the 2nd minute when Justin Hoyte’s backward pass to Mitch Hildebrandt sold the keeper short and in an effort to clear the ball away from Pittsburgh’s Hertzog, Hildebrandt smoked FC Cincinnati’s center back right in the face. Nearly a minute later, a poor turnover resulted in a one on one shot for Romeo Parks who thankfully kicked it right at the FC Cincinnati keeper. In the just the third minute of the match, Pittsburgh’s Corey Hertzog grabbed a loose ball at the top of the penalty box and bend it past Hildebrandt to make it 1-0 to the Hounds. It was Pittsburgh’s first ever goal against FC Cincinnati, the two teams have now played 5 total matches since joining USL.
FC Cincinnati struggled mightily in the first 20 minutes of this match, really finding it difficult to connect passes from defense to midfield. The home side may have had a penalty shot in the 19th minute when Konig hit the turf inside the penalty area while battling for a ball with Pittsburgh’s Jack. Replay showed that it was not worthy of a call, just tough defending in the box.
In the 24th minute on another FC Cincinnati corner, the Orange and Blue had a sure fire chance to score. Danny Konig from point blank range had the ball deflect off his chest at the goal line. During the mad scramble for the ball, it appeared that Pittsburgh’s Adewole may have handled the ball in the box but FC Cincinnati did not get the call. The replays showed that the ball did in fact touch the player’s arm, but could be debated that it was ball to arm rather than arm to ball.
FC Cincinnati after the 20th minute really started coming into the match much better. In the 33rd minute, Wiedeman did well to spin out of a tackle in the box, tried to pick out a streaking Matt Bahner near the 6-yard box but it was headed away by Pittsburgh’s Jack.
But quickly the other way came Pittsburgh in the 34th minute. Hertzog made a very quick run in behind the FC Cincinnati back line forcing Mitch Hildebrandt to come flying out in defense. The keeper brought down Pittsburgh’s forward 40 yards from goal earning himself a yellow card, the first caution of the game. Fortunately for FC Cincinnati, the resulting free kick did no harm.
FC Cincinnati finished the 1st half with a flurry. In the 40th minute, Andrew Wiedeman brought the Nippert Stadium crowd to their feet with a blast from outside the 18 knotting the game at 1. It was his 2nd goal of the season and it came at a crucial point just before the half. The forward took advantage of the Pittsburgh backline turnover hitting the one-time shot low and to Perrella’s left. It was great buildup combination play involving Kenney Walker, Bahner and Konig. The ball fell fortunately to Wiedeman’s feet at the top of the 18 who buried it home.
Both teams came out for the 2nd half with unchanged lineups and both found it difficult to get anything going.
Kenney Walker who’s been a rock at midfield for this team all season long picked up a yellow card in the 50th minute after a tough challenge on Pittsburgh’s Jack.
Both teams seemed to have found their rhythm later in the 2nd half after both teams made substitutions but neither were able to take their chances. Djiby came on in place of Konig in the 65th minute had a header go over the bar. He also skied a volley from the top of the 18 into the Bailey. FC Cincinnati also brought on Kadeem Dacres for Jimmy McLoughlin late in the match.
Corey Hertzog showed why he’s been on fire of late for the Riverhounds again in the 2nd half as he had another chance go just wide of Mitch Hildebrandt’s far post. The ball was bouncing and he went for the spectacular volley but fortunately, the ball bounced wide of the post.
The match finished 1-1 a result that really doesn’t suit either side who are both fighting for the last playoff spot in the east.
Seriously? This team hadn’t played a match in 10 days and were supposed to be the fresher side. Instead, Pittsburgh came out with more energy and looked like the team that wanted it more. FC Cincinnati was caught giving up possession early and was careless with the ball. They hadn’t given up a goal EVER to Pittsburgh and 3 minutes in they found themselves down a goal. That was extremely disappointing.
Who is this team? It’s hard to believe that just a year ago this team was fighting for the top spot in the Eastern Conference of USL. Now a year later this team continues to struggle against teams near or below them in the USL standings. Yeah a deep US Open cup run is great but if you miss the playoffs does it really matter? Right now this team looks nothing like a team ready to fight for a USL Championship which is what Jeff Berding clearly set out for in the 2016 offseason.
Spine of the Team: Successful teams no matter what league they’re playing in usually have a strong spine, meaning they’re solid at GK, CB, CM and striker. Right now there are questions at center back for this team. FC Cincinnati brought in Sem de Wit a few weeks ago to shore that up, he’s been less than convincing. Austin Berry came on today for the injured Matt Bahner in the 2nd half but he’s been up and down this year. Delbridge as well. The team spent much of the offseason focusing on goals, but recently this team’s biggest need is depth at midfield. Kenney Walker appears to be running on fumes, so does Corben Bone. This team is severely missing an attacking midfielder to connect to Djiby and Konig. Goals are nice, but this offseason let’s hope they address the midfield a bit more.
FC Cincinnati Starting XI (3-4-3): Hildebrandt (GK), (L-R) Delbridge, Hoyte, de Wit; Josu, Bone, K. Walker, Bahner; McLoughlin, König, Wiedeman
Subs: Jaye (GK), Berry (59′), Dacres (85′), Djiby (65′), Greig, Quinn, Schindler
Pittsburgh Riverhounds Starting XI (4-4-2): Perrella (GK), Washington, Jack, Adewole, Duffie; Parkes, Souto, Okai, Kerr; Walsh, Hertzog
Subs: Kapp (GK), Agbossoumonde (69′), Gomez, J. Thompson, Earls, Howell (89′), Kay Banjo (69′)
3′ Hertzog (PIT)
40′ Wiedeman (CIN)
34′ Hildebrandt (CIN)
50′ Walker (CIN)
82′ Delbridge (CIN)
93′ Jack (PIT)
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) September 2, 2017
Tuesday 9/12 – at Harrisburg City Islanders – 6:30 p.m. EST – Harrisburg, PA