Match Day 11: FC Cincinnati vs. Louisville City FC
Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Result: FC Cincinnati: 0- Louisville City: 2
FC Cincinnati’s perfect week came to a screeching halt on Saturday night. Disposing of NCFC and Pittsburgh made the Orange and Blue look invincible, but the rivals down south know how to ruin a party. Alan Koch rolled out an odd lineup mixing several usual starters with some faces we have only seen in Open Cup play. Notability, Barrett went in for Lasso, and Bahner played left back with Hoyte on the pitch in his normal position. The successful combo of Albadawi, Ledesma, and Konig started up top.
In the first half, FC Cincinnati created few good chances. Louisville quickly went to their usual press, and Cincinnati did not look ready for it. Turnovers in the midfield were Louisville’s reward, and they forced FCC to retreat back after each takeaway. Richie Ryan and Kenny Walker uncharacteristically struggled to get the ball forward cleanly. Passing accuracy shows a bit higher on the stat sheet due to many successful backward passes. When the ball would make it to midfield, Louisville would often press it all the way back to Newton. Newton would then boot it forward and a 50/50 ball would be played. This set of plays ended up being the general theme of the night.
In the fifteenth minute, Lancaster was awarded a free kick after a foul outside the top of the box. He shot low, and the ball deflected through a hole in the Cincinnati wall. Newton was unable to save the blast, and the visitors quickly went up by one. The rest of the first half was a midfield chess match. Neither side was generating many chances, which played in Louisville’s favor. Coach James O’Connor also made an early first-half sub, bringing in former FC Cincinnati striker Luke Spencer.
At halftime, all was not lost. FC Cincinnati has been down before and halftime adjustments are the team’s specialty. Unfortunately, not much changed in the second half. FC Cincinnati still struggled vs. Louisville’s press, which seemed to force the ball out to the wings and then trap it. Bahner and Hoyte repeatedly tried to work into the attack but would find themselves trapped on the wings and attempt the pass back. O’Connor brought Ownby on in the 62nd minute adding fresh legs to his midfield attack. At this point, FC Cincinnati was down and needed a spark of their own. In the 64th minute, Koch brought on Welshman for Konig. This added legs to the attack, but the ball still struggled to make it that far down the pitch.
Welshman got his head on a set piece giving Louisville a bit of a scare before O’Connor brought on his final chess piece. Still early in the 2nd half, the third sub was spent, and Davis IV was added into the attack. He added the dagger seven minutes later on a long shot that deflected off Bahner’s foot and up and over Newton. It was unlucky, but Louisville had better chances that Newton was also able to save. Neither side was particularly amazing in the attack. Louisville put more shots on frame, and FC Cincinnati ended up with a big ZERO shots on target. The only late chance came off a Ledesma free kick, and it bounced off the post.
No Response –James O’Connor came into the match with a clear plan of attack. He used all three of his subs early and each had an immediate impact on the game. Alan Koch did not match O’Connor, instead opting to wait for the final 30 before trying something new. The first sub (Welshman) failed to address the problems against the press, and by the time he was in, O’Connor had added to his midfield. Lahoud was the only midfielder available, but it may have been a mistake to keep him on the bench for so long.
Spread Out – After weeks of solid midfield play, FCC started bunching up again. At the beginning of the season, Cincinnati struggled to spread out and utilize the field vs. a press. Louisville was able to confine FCC by swiftly attacking and forcing the midfield in to help one another. With limited lanes forward, the ball often ended up going back. The lack of shots taken is a large indicator of how rarely the ball was in the attacking third despite a good time of possession.
Not 1st but Not Panicking – Cincinnati got outplayed and outcoached tonight. A six-point swing makes it all the more painful, but the season is still very long. FC Cincinnati is still one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and needs to piece together O’Connor’s strategy. Several teams have taken Louisville down. Use that knowledge and the lessons learned from this match to fight off teams that attempt the same strategy. NCFC got ripped to shreds not pressing Cincinnati. Expect most teams to press from here on out.
15’ – LOU – Lancaster
73’ – LOU – Davis IV
FC Cincinnati Starting XI (4-4-2): Evan Newton (GK), Justin Hoyte, Paddy Barrett, Dekel Keinan, Matt Bahner, Richie Ryan, Corben Bone, Kenney Walker, Nazmi Albadawi, Emmanuel Ledesma (71′), Danni König(84′)
Subs: Spencer Richey, Matt Bahner, Sem deWit, Michael Lahoud(73′), Jimmy McLaughlin, Lance Laing(79′), Emery Welshman(64′), Russell Cicerone
Louisville City FC Starting XI: Greg Ranjitsingh (GK), Paco Craig, Sean Totsch, Pat McMahon, Kyle Smith,Oscar Jimenez, DelPiccolo, Speedy Williams, Cameron Lancaster (30), Magnus Rasmussen(66′), Illic(62′)
Subs: Tim Dobrowolski, Hubbard, Souahy, Davis IV (66′), McCabe, Brian Ownby(62′), Luke Spencer (30′)
FC Cincinnati vs. New York Red Bulls II (USL) – Sat. June 2nd – 1:00 PM – Red Bull Arena