Nippert Stadium, OH
Result: FC Cincinnati: 4- Richmond Kickers: 0
FC Cincinnati faced off against the Richmond Kickers on Saturday night. It was the clubs’ first meeting of the season, and FCC wanted to capitalize on their unbeaten series against Richmond. FCC wanted to secure a win at home after a disappointing draw on Wednesday night against Bethlehem Steel.
FCC entered the match at the top of the USL Eastern Conference. Richmond sat at 14th prior to the match, losing all four away matches of their season thus far. Coach Alan Koch rolled out a familiar lineup. Some usual key players were listed as subs due to this being the fifth match in 14 days.
FCC started off this match stronger than any previous matches. The passing and combinations fell together seamlessly, resulting in an early seventh minute score for forward Emmanuel Ledesma. Ledesma’s score had the crowd of 28,000 people roaring early on, and it was impossible to stop that momentum.
The quick start by FCC was something that the Richmond Kickers could not slow down. The combination of Nazmi Albadawi and Michael Lahoud in the midfield kept the ball in FCC’s possession. FCC continued to run the ball down the side of the pitch, often times missing an open Justin Hoyte. Albadawi capitalized on a run down the center of the pitch, securing a second goal in the 36th minute.
The Kickers tried to limit the opportunities that FCC had to move the ball, but they fell short. FCC not only maintained possession, but the back line performed seamlessly, making Evan Newton’s job pretty easy. The clubs went into the half with FCC up, 2-0. This quick start at home was just what the Orange and Blue needed.
The Orange and Blue capitalized on the momentum of the first half and came out strong in the second. Ready to defend their lead, Danni König made a clean drive up the middle of the pitch. König’s quick footwork sent the ball to the back of the net in the 60th minute.
From the third goal on, the Orange and Blue could not be stopped. Ledesma sent the ball just wide in the 64th minute. In the 68th minute, Ledesma connected with the back of the net again, bringing the score to 4-0. Emery Welshman was subbed in at the 68th minute, replacing König, and was ready to add to the score. Welshman’s shots were just short in the 73rd minute and the 77th minute.
While the Kickers defense was able to stop FCC from scoring additional goals, the overall performance was lacking. The Kickers were unable to maintain possession for very long, and they were unable to capitalize. The match ended in an FCC 4-0 victory at home, making their Nippert Stadium record 3-2-2. The Orange and Blue have 10 days before their next match on June 27 against Toronto II FC at Lamppost Stadium.
A Quick Start – This match was arguably the cleanest and most cohesive FC Cincinnati has looked all season. While the rest of the matches have taken at least 10 to 15 minutes for the lads to find their legs, everyone came out prepared and ready. From the start, players were connecting, passes were completed, and they were ready to score. After the performance on Wednesday, it was obvious the Orange and Blue wanted to bring in a big win. On Saturday, they did. If they can continue to come out strong at the start, FC Cincinnati should remain at the top of the table for some time.
The Ledesma Effect – It’s no surprise that the game suffers when Ledesma is not on the pitch. Ledesma is a playmaker, a rare player who can come out onto the pitch and change momentum in the blink of an eye. He’ll run the ball every chance he gets; if he’s unable to get the shot, he’s usually there with an assist. Ledesma was unable to play Wednesday night due to yellow card accumulations. When he stepped out onto the pitch Saturday night, it was clear he wanted to win. Ledesma rarely falls short, and he always provides the crowd with an entertaining match. Tonight was no exception. With two goals under his belt tonight, Ledesma was Man of the Match.
First Place Performance – For weeks we’ve been saying that for a club in first place, the lads should be playing like a first place team. Not all of the performances have been clean, and sometimes the midfield is lacking. But on Saturday, all of that was put aside, and FC Cincinnati delivered one of their best performances yet. The back line stepped up and did not allow Richmond to capitalize on their possession. The midfield was as strong as it has been all season – save for a few little errors. The forwards wanted to score, and score they did. If the Orange and Blue can keep up this momentum, we’re in for a fun summer.
7’ – Emmanuel Ledesma (FCC)
36’ – Nazmi Albadawi (FCC)
60’ – Danni König (FCC)
68’ – Emmanuel Ledesma (FCC)
FC Cincinnati Starting XI: Evan Newton (GK), Dekel Keinan, Paddy Barrett, Justin Hoyte, Blake Smith, Corben Bone, Michael Lahoud, Richie Ryan, Nazmi Albadawi, Emmanuel Ledesma, Danni König
Subs: Matt Bahner, Russell Cicerone, Forrest Lasso, Jimmy McLaughlin (82’), Kenney Walker (74’), Emery Welshman (68’)
Richmond Kickers Starting XI: Travis Worra (GK), Austin Yearwood, Conor Shanosky, Yudai Imura, Heviel Cordovés, Oscar Umar, Alex Lee, Raul Gonzalez, Braden Troyer, Mekeil Williams, Luiz Fernando, Giuseppe Gentile
Subs: Trevor Spangenberg, William Yomby, Fred Ousu Sekyere, Neil Hlavaty, Scott Thomsen, Brian Shriver, Koby Osei-Wusu
FC Cincinnati vs. Toronto FC II – Wed. June 27th – 8:00 PM – Lamppost Stadium