Matchday #27: FC Cincinnati at Harrisburg City
FNB Field – Attendance: 1,820 (Enough for their water bottle giveaway)
Well that was something to see. Jimmy McLaughlin salvaged a point at the literal death of the game as FC Cincinnati would draw Harrisburg City Islanders 1-1 on Ladies Night at FNB Field. McLaughlin chased down the proverbial last watermelon (see podcast) as he lifted the spirits of all FC Cincinnati fans on Tuesday night.
Head Coach Alan Koch trotted out a different lineup with a formation shift away in Harrisburg. Koch utilized a back four (in a 4-4-2) comprised of Tyler Polak, Harrison Delbridge, Sem De Wit and Justin Hoyte. Polak did not last long as he was injured in a 9th-minute tackle. The left back would be replaced in the 13th by Josu.
The central midfield pairing of Kenney Walker and Aodhan Quinn, who replaced Corben Bone who is awaiting the birth of his first child, fared well defensively early on. The City Islanders held a 54/46 possession advantage in the first half, but Cincinnati allowed City to hold possession.
Through the first half, FC Cincinnati struggled to create many serious chances offensively. The Orange & Blue’s best chance came on a nice give-and-go between Jimmy McLaughlin and Josu. The final Josu cross would just skim the head of Kyle Greig, but the ball skipped to Walker whose shot skimmed the crossbar.
FC Cincinnati nearly got on the board again as Kadeem Dacres slipped a ball wide to Josu in the 45th. Josu’s cross was barely blocked as he was looking towards an open Konig. Harrisburg did find chances on several counter plays but attempts by Wilson and Mensah wide would lead to their two major opportunities. Both sides entered the break 0-0.
Harrisburg would come out of halftime on a mission. Chances in the 46th and 47th minutes would just miss but the home side finally found the back of the net in the 51st. FC Cincinnati’s defense would be exposed off a long pass to midfielder Pedro Ribeiro. The Brazilian headed the ball to Mensah whose quick pass to Mendoza unlocked the central defensive pairing on De Wit & Delbridge. Mendoza beat Hildebrant 1 on 1 to put the hosts on top.
The City Islanders would then bunker and allow Cincinnati to control the game and get considerable chances on frame. Their star goalkeeper Brandon Miller seemed up to the task. Miller’s 3 saves and 3 clearances kept the home squad in the match. The keeper made back-to-back stops on Josu free kicks in the 61st and 62nd minutes to frustrate the Cincy attack. His best save of the night was in the 68th off of a Djiby header. The Senegalese forward was somehow ruled offsides, robbing Miller a Save of the Week nomination.
Forward Kyle Grieg was perhaps robbed of a penalty call after the 72nd minute as he was clipped down in the box. The loanee from Vancouver had issues getting involved next to his starting partner Konig, but found more life next to Djiby. Grieg had a golden opportunity late in the match as he found himself one-on-one with Miller. His shot would be clipped by Miller in what would be a disappointing night for the newcomer.
Things looked to be over late in stoppage time but a headed pass from Djiby Fall would find the Penn Messi for the defining moment of the match. McLaughlin was able to create chances all match, but none better that his 94th-minute effort. Sheer will and pace allowed Jimmy to break free for a chance on goal. A great first touch off the Djiby headed pass allowed McLaughlin to slip the ball under Miller for the winning goal.
Here is better video of the @J_McLaughlinIII goal that may have saved the season for @fccincinnati pic.twitter.com/vv2BQPr3KX
— Cincy Soccer Talk (@cincysoccertalk) September 13, 2017
The Harrisburg bench and roster went nuts as the goal seemed to have gone in well after the 4th minute of stoppage, but the ref waived them away and Cincinnati will return for their home finale salvaging a point in the capital of Pennsylvania. The point moved FC Cincinnati to 9-9-9 and 7th place above Orlando. The Boys in Orange & Blue will return home to Cincinnati Saturday to face New York Red Bulls II. Koch’s side go into the match needing 3 points vs. a side they have never beaten. Check out Cincinnati Soccer Talk for our previews and stories leading up to the match.
We need Bone: What was apparent was the lack of a second central midfielder to dictate play. While Walker was seen all over the field, his partner Aodhan Quinn was lost on several occasions. None more apparent than late in the first half on a casually popped ball that should have been intercepted and a counter sprung. The midfield will need to be perfect on Saturday and without Bone’s knack of choosing his points to go forward or hang back, we may be in trouble. Good luck to the Bone’s on the impending birth of their child.
Was that really our Best XI?: While I know there is a need to rest players going into a short week, that could not have honestly been our best XI. While I thought Dacres did reasonably well in his 70+ minutes, he hasn’t started a match since June. Where have Djiby and Austin Berry been? Is this an instance of two players not being mentally tough on the road? The offense changed with the addition of Djiby and I’m not sure he can be left out vs. New York at home. After such a long break I would have expected a full strength lineup and this seemed far from it.
Jimmy We Love You: How about this guy? Yes, does his shot let him down sometimes, but how many players created chances the entire match. Our Penn Messi gives 110% every match and is a key to our squad. Good on you Jimmy for seeing the game through and getting the point. The fans of Cincinnati respect the hell out of you and we are glad you are a part of our club.
FC Cincinnati Starting XI (4-4-2): Hildebrandt (GK), (R-L) Hoyte, De Wit, Delbridge, Polak (13′); McLaughlin, Quinn, K. Walker, Dacres (72′); Greig, Konig (63′)
Subs: Jaye (GK), Berry, Djiby (63′), Josu (13′), Nicholson, Schindler, Wiedeman (72′)
Harrisburg City Starting XI (3-4-3): Miller (GK), Brent. Calvano, Nishahanian; Mclaws, Dabo, Ribeiro (77′), Opoku; Mendoza (83′), Mensah, Wilson (74′)
Subs: Lewis, Bond (83′), Diprima (74′), Benbow, Olabiyi (77′), Sanchez, Wheeler
51′ – Harrisburg – Mendoza (Mensah)
94′ – Cincinnati – McLaughlin (DjibY)
(LEAGUE) Saturday 9/16 – vs. New York Red Bulls II – 7:00 p.m. EST – Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH – TICKETS
(US WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM FRIENDLY) Tuesday 9/19 – vs. New Zealand – 7:30 p.m. – Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH – TICKETS
@BryanWeigel for @CincySoccerTalk