Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ
Result: FC Cincinnati: 2- New York Red Bulls II: 1
FC Cincinnati is back on top of the USL Eastern Conference after ending the New York Red Bulls II winning at home streak for their series. This is the first time FC Cincinnati has beaten this club away from home. Alan Koch rolled out a familiar starting line up, with Dekel Keinan out for this match due to yellow card accumulations. The Red Bulls gave keeper Scott Levene his first start of the season against the Orange and Blue.
In the first half, FC Cincinnati started off with a lot of pressure at midfield, keeping the Red Bulls on their toes. But that didn’t last long – sloppy turnovers gave the Red Bulls a goal by the seventh minute. The possession changed and the Orange and Blue started to feel the pressure on the defense. The Red Bulls limited the opportunities that FC Cincinnati was able to create, resulting in poor passes and multiple turnovers.
Near the end of the first half, FC Cincinnati started to find their momentum. Striker Emmanuel Ledesma was able to create more opportunities and found himself in the position to take more shots. Keeper Levene deflected each shot Ledesma tried to take, including shots from Lahoud and Albadawi. The Red Bulls kept the pressure on the Orange and Blue, making it difficult for them to find their rhythm on the pitch.
While the midfield looked a little cleaner by the end of the half, FC Cincinnati was still unable to capitalize, and the half ended 1-0, Red Bulls.
The second half started with no substitutions on either side. FC Cincinnati continued their tradition of coming out strong in the second half, leading to Albadawi with a pass to Welshman for a header that just missed. In the 61’, White was awarded a penalty kick for the Red Bulls but his penalty shot was skied over the net.
The missed penalty seemed to be a catalyst for FC Cincinnati. Alan Koch made his first two substitutions after the failed penalty kick, subbing in veterans Jimmy McLaughlin and Danni König. As soon as these substitutions were made, the midfield seemed to fall into place. By the 64’, Ledesma was able to capitalize and put FC Cincinnati on the board, tying the match at 1-1.
After a brief hydration break, the clubs were back on the pitch causing FC Cincinnati to come out strong and create more plays at midfield. With an assist from Albadawi, König scored, giving the Orange and Blue the first lead of the match at 2-1. McLaughlin brought a spark to the midfield that it had not seen earlier in the match, causing the momentum to increase.
In the 86’, Kenney Walker was subbed onto the field, replacing Lahoud. The midfield was holding their own better under the offensive pressure of the Red Bulls, creating more depth and causing the pace of the Red Bulls to slow down. The Red Bulls attacking plays seemed disconnected in extra time. The players did not appear to be on the same page, and the Orange and Blue were able to keep their lead. The match ended with the Orange and Blue victorious, 2-1.
First Half Motivation – Per usual, FC Cincinnati’s motivation appeared to be lacking in the first half. Whether it was due to heat and fatigue or the pressure of facing a club they had never beaten away from home, the Orange and Blue seemed off their game. This is not really a surprise when compared to other matches this season, where the performance is also lacking in the first half. It could be due to Koch trying to switch up the starting eleven, resulting in players who may not have as much chemistry with one another. Whatever the case may be, this issue seems to clear itself up after halftime, and it results in what appears to be a completely different team in the second half.
Midfield Madness – The midfield can either be our strongest or weakest section, depending on who is playing. The addition or subtraction of one or two players can completely alter the mindset of the entire field. The matches have been starting out with little depth at midfield, a pattern that any rival club is able to pick up on and play against. The key players here are McLaughlin and Walker, the combination of these two creating a much quicker paced game that has FC Cincinnati creating more offensive plays. It can be hard to fill these shoes; Lahoud, the newest addition to the Orange and Blue, seems to be finding his place rather quickly while Richie Ryan has been falling short in the last couple of matches.
Second Half Substitutions – Second-half substitutions always work in FC Cincinnati’s favor. Due to preserving the strength and condition of key players, fan favorites have often been used as substitutions in the second half to eliminate the risk of wear-and-tear on their bodies. Statistics show that 2 out of every 3 goals that FC Cincinnati has scored have occurred in the second half. These substitutions are crucial to the success of the Orange and Blue, bringing in fresh legs and a new mindset that allows the club to capitalize on new player combinations.
7’ – NYRBII – Moreno
64’ – FCC – Ledesma
74’ – FCC – König
FC Cincinnati Starting XI (4-4-2): Evan Newton (GK), Justin Hoyte, Paddy Barrett, Forrest Lasso, Blake Smith, Richie Ryan, Corben Bone, Michael Lahoud, Nazmi Albadawi, Emmanuel Ledesma, Emery Welshman
Subs: Spencer Richey, Matt Bahner, Sem deWit, Danni König (63’), Jimmy McLaughlin (63’), Will Seymore, Kenney Walker (86’)
New York Red Bulls II Starting XI: Scott Levene (GK), Wahab Ackwei, Cristian Casseres Jr, Niko de Vera, Chris Lema, Amando Moreno, Kevin Politz, Lucas Stauffer, Jared Stroud, Andrew Tinari, Brian White
Subs: Matthew Frank, Jordan Bailon, John Murphy, Steven Echevarria, Jose Aguinaga, Tom Barlow (69’), Ben Mines
FC Cincinnati vs. North Carolina FC (USL) – Sat. June 9th – 7:00 PM – WakeMed Soccer Park