Match Day 3: FC Cincinnati vs. Louisville City FC
Nippert Stadium: Attendance 25,667
Result: FC Cincinnati 0 – Louisville City FC 1
FC Cincinnati hosted their home opener against Louisville City FC Saturday night in front of 25,667 loyal fans. This match set a new record for a USL Home Opener match. The cold weather was not enough to stop the fans from marching into Nippert for the Dirty River Derby. Both clubs headed into the game with a 2-0-0 record, with Louisville City FC in third and FC Cincinnati in fifth separated on goal differential. However, the Orange and Blue fell short and suffered the first loss of the season, losing 1-0.
The history between these two clubs is deep with tensions coming to a head during the last game of the Dirty River Derby series in 2017 at Slugger Stadium. The entire first row of FC Cincinnati fans was ejected from the game for throwing streamers onto the field. This event, dubbed “Streamer Gate” by the Orange and Blue Faithful, was commemorated in the tifo that was displayed in the Bailey. Aptly reading “Streamer Things,” fans then threw streamers onto the tifo as they welcomed their club onto the pitch.
Louisville FC started the match out with a strong possession, taking shots that kept goalkeeper Evan Newton on his toes. Newton allowed his first goal of the season in the 13th minute, after a few impressive saves.
Louisville’s Paco Craig played a long ball to the right end line where Oscar Jiminez drove toward goal and crossed to George Davis IV. Davis and FCC midfielder Will Seymore collided with the ball falling to Cameron Lancaster near the penalty spot. The forward drilled the ball into the right side of the net with Newton having little to no chance of providing his heroics from his previous two clean sheets.
The Orange and Blue struggled in the first half creating opportunities. The most dangerous chance happened in the 25th minute when veteran Corben Bone took a shot that was deflected directly on the goal line by a LouCity defender. Laing and Ledesma both got good looks from distance, but were stopped by Louisville keeper, Greg Ranjitsingh.
The tide began to swing in the home teams favor as FC Cincinnati started to maintain possession and played with more energy in the second half. This energy gave the offense the ability to force more opportunities. Danni König, who was subbed into the game in the 57th minute, got his head on a cross but it sailed right over the net.
Fan-favorite Jimmy McLaughlin, was welcomed on in the 75th minute to thunderous applause and gave the crowd a spark of energy to cheer on the squad. This was the winger’s first action of the 2018 regular season as he returned from an offseason foot and shoulder injuries.
Unfortunately, FC Cincinnati fell short in the last ten minutes of the game, recycling the same drive down the side of the pitch, resulting in each cross or shot being blocked.The club did not look in sync, often missing shots and not passing to players who were open. Justin Hoyte took an opportunity at the end of the match, passing to winger Daniel Haber, who was denied at the last minute. McLaughlin’s try for a long distance 90th-minute equalizer also fell short.
FC Cincinnati couldn’t muster enough opportunities by the final whistle and lost to Louisville City FC, 1-0.
Challenge More –
The team clearly struggled with generating opportunities in the first half. The formations and combinations that were utilized in the second half should have been used all along. Louisville City brings a lot of energy to their matches, and FC Cincinnati can’t risk falling behind and spending their time playing catch-up instead of creating space to score. FC Cincinnati did improve in the second half, but the creativity was lacking.
Switch it Up –
The same combos were being used time and time again, which made the last fifteen minutes of the game particularly frustrating. The play became predictable, and that made it easier for Louisville’s defense and keeper to block the shots that were being taken.
Hoyte was open the most in the last fifteen minutes of the match, attempting to signal to the center backs when to pass to him, but that was only done a handful of times. When Hoyte did have possession, it was with a cross to Haber that was more difficult for Louisville to block. However, the center backs continued to pass to McLaughlin and Bone, resulting in the same combo being used and stopped at the goal line.
Where is Naz? –
This match was screaming for Nazmi Albadawi before the first score. Naz was named to the NASL Best XI, and it is interesting to see that he has not yet started or played a game with FC Cincinnati. Coach Koch could capitalize upon more depth in the midfield, a position that Naz could arguably fill better than anyone.
While Koch constantly encourages the fans to “trust the process,” it can be frustrating when there seems to be so much talent on the team not being utilized. The midfield seemed sloppy, although better than any game last season when Kenney Walker wasn’t playing. The lack of Naz so far in the season leaves fans questioning why Coach Koch continues to keep him off the pitch.
13′ – Cameron Lancaster
FC Cincinnati Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Evan Newton (GK); Blake Smith, Dekel Keinan, Forrest Lasso, Justin Hoyte; Richie Ryan, William Seymore; Lance Laing, Corben Bone, Emmanuel Ledesma, Emery Welshman
Subs: Spencer Richey (GK); Nazmi Albawdawi, Matt Bahner, Paddy Barrett; Daniel Haber (69′); Danni König (56′), Jimmy McLaughlin (75′)
Louisville City FC Starting XI (3-4-3): Greg Ranjitsing (GK); Sean Totsch, Paco Craig, Pat McMahon; Oscar Jiminez, Paolo Delpiccolo, Devon Williams, Kyle Smith; George Davis IV, Cameron Lancaster, Magnes Rasmussen
Subs: Chris Hubbard (GK), Tim Dobrowolski (GK), Ilija Ilic (66′), Shaun Francis (62′), Niall McCabe (62′), Alexis Souahy, Brian Ownby
FC Cincinnati vs. Bethlehem Steel FC – Sun. April 15th. 3:00 p.m. – Goodman Stadium.