Match Day 8: Atlanta United 2 vs FC Cincinnati Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH Attendance – 22,532
Result: FC Cincinnati: 4 – Atlanta United 2
FC Cincinnati has been on a tear of late and that trend continued this evening at a rainy Nippert Stadium. Though it took some time to get settled in, FC Cincinnati took advantage of the youthful side that Atlanta United 2 brought to Cincinnati. Atlanta United 2’s lineup featured a few names from their MLS roster, something that’s not uncommon to FC Cincinnati’s fans. The youthful lineup featuring three teenagers meant that forwards Danni Konig and Manu Ledesma had multiple opportunities to get in behind the Atlanta back 3. For the first 20 minutes or so of this match, you were starting to see the cracks in the defense but FC Cincinnati couldn’t capitalize.
Finally, the dam broke and Atlanta United’s sloppy defense came back to bite them. In the 26th minute, Manu Ledesma got in behind the defense and did a fantastic job of forcing the Atlanta defense to stay with him. The Argentinian who was in on goal 1v1 with Atlanta United’s Nicolas Caraux then calmly played a slow roller across the box which found the foot of Danni Konig who had a wide open net to shoot on. After his misfires in Ottawa last weekend, there was no way Konig was missing this open net. The home side found themselves up 1-0 after 26 minutes.
Before the orange and blue smoke had a chance to clear, Ledesma had the Nippert crowd on their feet again, a great through ball from Blake Smith found the feet of Ledesma who did a great job of holding his run to get in behind the Atlanta defense. With his left foot, he fired his shot into the far post to make it 2-0 to FC Cincinnati.
It was a whirlwind first half as both defenses were sloppy. Atlanta United’s Jon Gallagher pounced on a loose ball in the FC Cincinnati penalty area and got the visitors on the board. The shot may have been saved by Richey but was deflected off the forehead of FC Cincinnati’s Dekel Keinan. It was a disappointing goal to concede because leading up to this point, Atlanta United hadn’t had much possession, especially in FC Cincinnati’s half.
In the 38th minute, FC Cincinnati found themselves on the board again courtesy of another Corben Bone strike. Bone has been a man on a mission of late. The FC Cincinnati midfielder found himself with the ball in a similar spot from where he scored midweek against Indy. The goal was Bone’s 3rd goal in 3 matches and made it 3-1 to Orange and Blue.
But more sloppy defense, this time from FC Cincinnati’s Justin Hoyte allowed Atlanta United 2 to get back on the board again. This time off a fantastic volley from Laurent Kissiedou. The youngster’s volley though did take a slight deflection off of an FC Cincinnati defender, but Kissiedou showed great technique and made FC Cincinnati pay for the poor clearance.
Five goals in the first half, the folks at Nippert Stadium who braved the early weather were rewarded with some entertaining soccer. Most teams who are firing on all cylinders don’t want halftime to come. However, FC Cincinnati quickly capitalized on another Atlanta mistake almost as soon as the 2nd half whistle blew. Manu Ledesma was quick to pounce on a Caraux poor clearance and completed his brace. The forward calmly took a touch and fired home right in front of the Bailey to make it 4-2.
Midway through the 2nd half, Manu Ledesma was substituted for Emery Welshman. Ledesma was fantastic tonight. A well-deserved applause by the home crowd for the Argentinian striker who ended the night with 2 goals and an assist.
As the 2nd half progressed, FC Cincinnati did a much better job defensively keeping Atlanta at bay. Michael Lahoud made his home debut subbing on for Jimmy McLaughlin for FC Cincinnati as Alan Koch looked to shut up shop. Atlanta United 2 never really looked a threat in the 2nd half and FC Cincinnati’s possession and press never allowed the visitors to get back into this match.
With the 4-2 win, FC Cincinnati lept over Louisville City in the Eastern Conference standings into 1st place after Louisville’s loss earlier in the day to Indy Eleven. 9 points in 8 days for the Orange and Blue. Looks like they’ve earned a day off as they prepare to hit the road next week at Charlotte.
Offensive….AGAIN – This week couldn’t have gotten better for FC Cincinnati. 9 points in 8 days, plus their rival Louisville loses. Where have the goals come from? Corben Bone has been the catalyst. Ever since the switch to the 4-4-2 diamond, they’ve been unstoppable in front of net. If you’re doing the math that’s now 12 goals in the past 4 matches for FC Cincinnati.
Defense – If I had to nitpick on anything tonight, and there weren’t too many negative aspects from tonight’s match, but the two goals that FC Cincinnati conceded could have been avoided. The last two matches FC Cincinnati goalkeepers have had to pick up the ball up out their own net. Fortunately, they’re outscoring their opponents. But the defense needs to get things cleaned up.
They Are Who We Thought They Were – It’s only May, but FC Cincinnati has found themselves at the top of the Eastern Conference at 5-1-2. We thought that this team had the capability to be at the top of the East, but they got off to a slow start much to the chagrin of the FC Cincinnati faithful. If FC Cincinnati can continue to rotate the squad and keep everyone fresh throughout the summer, there’s great chance they can stay near the top of those standings.
CIN – Konig 26′ (Ledesma)
CIN – Ledesma 28′ (Smith)
ATL2 – Gallagher 31′ (Cochran)
CIN – Bone 38′
ATL2 – Kissiedou 41′
CIN – Ledesma 46′
FC Cincinnati Starting XI (4-4-2): Spencer Richey (GK); Blake Smith, Dekel Keinan (C), Forrest Lasso, Justin Hoyte; Richie Ryan, Corben Bone, Kenney Walker, Jimmy McLaughlin (71′); Manu Ledesma (65′), Danni Konig
Subs: Mark Village (GK); Tomi Ameobi, Matt Bahner, Paddy Barrett, Lance Laing, Michael Lahoud (71′), Emery Welshman (65′)
Atlanta United 2 Starting XI (3-4-3): Nicholas Caraux (GK); Jack Metcalf (C), Mikey Ambrose (MLS), AJ Cochran, Kendall Edwards, Shawn Nicklaw, Chris Goslin (MLS), Oliver Shannon (MLS), Andrew Carleton (MLS), Laurent Kissiedou, Jon Gallagher (MLS)
Subs: Russell Shealy, Kevin Barajas, Jose Carranza, Andrew Kendall-Moullin, Lagos Kunga (45′) (MLS), Devon Sandoval
FC Cincinnati at Charlotte Independence – Saturday, May 12th – 7:30 p.m. – Sportsplex at Matthews – Matthews, NC.