Match Day 9: FC Cincinnati vs. Charlotte Independence
Sportsplex at Matthews, NC
Result: FC Cincinnati: 1 – Charlotte Independence: 4
It seemed like an ideal situation leading into the game. Charlotte were without a win in five games and scoreless in four. Cincinnati were undefeated in five games and had won their last three. FC Cincinnati were looking down for the first time from the top of the table and Charlotte were looking up from below the playoff line. But soccer can be a cruel sport.
It was a hot evening in North Carolina. Both teams seemed content to be patient, reserve their energy and work the ball around the midfield. Neither team created a lot of early chances and the game looked like it would be a slow-paced, low scoring affair.
In the 38th minute, Charlotte pounced on the opportunity they needed. Jorge Herrera sent a searching ball into the middle of the pitch near the top of the 18 where Cato was unmarked. The veteran with over 100 MLS appearances was given time to turn and shot, placing the ball into the upper right corner of the net and beyond Richey’s reach.
Cincinnati didn’t panic or change their plan. They continued to possess and pass and look for opportunities, but their intensity was not that of a team down a goal. And in first-half stoppage time, the Independence managed to get an insurance goal. A long shot from Yann Ekra, evaded all traffic in the box and found the back of the net without Richey even able to react.
In the second half, Coach Koch made a significant change. He pulled left back Blake Smith and replaced him with midfielder Jimmy McLaughlin. The formation of the team changed from a 4-4-2 to a 3-4-3. The move to a wider stance and more attack focused positioning paid off almost immediately. Ledesma found König once again. König touched the ball around Charlotte’s keeper and slotted the ball home from a tight angle. The Orange and Blue were back in the game.
However, the excitement was short lived when Charlotte restored the deficit to two goals only 6 minutes later. Cincinnati’s increased attack came with a risk or reduced defense. Herrera with a little flick, found Kay Voser at the top of the box unmarked. Voser looked up and had plenty of time to place the ball in the bottom right corner out of the reach of Richey. In the final minutes of the game, Voser created a similar opportunity for Eamon Zayed, who again, at the top of the box, was given time and space to, this time, put the ball into the lower left corner of the goal.
Post-match, Coach Koch said, “Our intensity and application were not at the expected levels tonight and we suffered a disappointing result. Playing six of our first nine matches on the road finally caught up with us.”
Whether it was the number of road games, over-confidence or the sudden Summer temperatures after a long cold Spring, the team never really looked dangerous and lacked urgency. I’m sure the team will want to review this game to see why Charlotte was able to so easily take advantage of their opportunities.
Take a breath – Yep, Cincinnati lost a game. Yep, it was a fairly dramatic scoreline. However, it’s not the end of the season. There are a lot of games yet to play, and it’s safe to say that the Orange and Blue are going to lose another game before the season is over. We know the quality is there. In the first half, possession was fairly even and both teams only had 2 shots on target. Charlotte scored on both of theirs. By the end of the game, Charlotte had 7 shots on target, scoring on 4 of them. FCC had 6 shots on target, scoring on one. Cincinnati was not outplayed. Charlotte just capitalized on their opportunities.
Defensive Woes – Though it isn’t time to panic, it is worth looking at where the team is struggling. One area seems to be applying pressure at the top of the box. Both Charlotte and Louisville positioned players at the top of the 18 and dropped the ball into the middle. Defensively, FCC is giving these players too much time and too much space allowing them to take shots at goal. Three of the four goals tonight came at the top of the 18 with unmarked players given time to turn and take shots.
Hey Ho Lasso – Forrest Lasso picked up his 5th yellow card of the season and will be ineligible to play next weekend against North Carolina. Seems likely that Alan Koch will want to use Lasso for the Open Cup game against Detroit knowing that Forrest will get a rest on the weekend.
38′ – CLT – Cordell Cato (Jorge Herrera)
47+’ – CLT – Yann Ekra (Alex Martinez)
51′ – FCC – Danni König (Emmanuel Ledesma)
57′ – CLT – Kay Voser (Jore Herrera)
87′ – CLT – Eamon Zayed (Kay Voser)
FC Cincinnati Starting XI (4-4-2): Spencer Richey (GK), Blake Smith (46′), Forest Lasso, Dekel Keinan, Justin Hoyte, Richie Ryan, Michael Lahoud, Kenney Walker, Corben Bone, Emmanuel Ledesma (71′), Danni König (85′)
Subs: Evan Newton, Matt Bahner, Paddy Barrett, Will Seymore, Jimmy McLaughlin 46′, Emery Welshman 71’, Tomi Ameobi 85’
Charlotte Independence Starting XI: Brandon Miller, Joel Johnson, Lee Jung-Soo, Samuel Vines, Jorge Herrera (92’+), Kay Voser, Cordell Cato (90′), Alex Martinez, Yann Ekra, Eamon Zayed (92+’)
Subs: Mutaya Mwape, Kainoa Likewise, Calvin Doum, Jake Aremen 90’, Daniel Steedman 92+’, Ricardo Perez 92+’
FC Cincinnati vs. Detroit City FC (OPEN CUP) – Wed. May 16th – 7:30 p.m. – Gettler Stadium (SOLD OUT)
FC Cincinnati vs. North Carolina FC (USL) – Sat. May 19th – 7:30 p.m. – Nippert Stadium