FC Cincinnati faced off against Ottawa Fury Saturday night after a discouraging midweek draw. FCC managed a fast-paced performance in the sweltering heat in front of a crowd of 27,107. The club has now surpassed 1 million all time attendance halfway through its third season.
The first half started out with Ottawa coming out strong and challenging FCC’s midfield. Ottawa was aggressive, but FCC’s midfield held strong. In the 12th minute, Danni König got through Ottawa’s defense for a drive down the pitch, but his effort was blocked. Only minutes later, in the 16th minute, König got his head on the ball from a pass by Blake Smith. This goal gave the Orange and Blue the first lead of the match.
In the 29th minute, Justin Hoyte got his foot on the ball inside the box, but his shot was blocked by Ottawa’s keeper.
The Orange and Blue maintained possession throughout the rest of an otherwise uneventful first half. Ottawa challenged FCC’s midfield consistently but the Orange and Blue fought back, defending their lead. FCC’s defense limited the opportunities Ottawa had to score. The first half ended with a 1-0 FCC lead.
FCC started the second with a thirst to score again and increase their lead over Ottawa. In the 52nd minute, Corben Bone maneuvered the ball through six Ottawa players, finding space. But the shot was just inches over the bar, and the search for a second goal for the Orange and Blue continued.
In the 59th minute, Ottawa’s Carl Haworth managed to get through FCC’s back line for a shot that was blocked by Evan Newton. This was one of the first real opportunities Ottawa had to score, and it was one of its last.
The Orange and Blue held strong for the remainder of the match, keeping possession and limiting Ottawa’s opportunities to equalize. FCC doubled its lead in the 90th minute with a masterful strike from Nazmi Albadawi. The match ended in a 2-0 FCC victory.
The Orange and Blue travel south next weekend to Nashville, Tenn., to play at Nissan Stadium. Nashville SC released a statement earlier this week indicating that any traveling FCC supporters are not permitted to march into the stadium.
First Place Defense – The Orange and Blue’s defense came out strong. After a lackluster performance on Wednesday against Toronto, it was good to see the defense come out in full force. Captain Dekel Keinan and Forrest Lasso were nearly impenetrable, and they were key players in stopping Ottawa’s attempted advances. Blake Smith and Justin Hoyte were instrumental as well in FCC’s win Saturday evening. Both Smith and Hoyte played a great game; Smith had an assist in the first half, which led to König’s goal. Hoyte nearly had his first goal of the season himself soon after but was blocked. If this strong defense manages to hold, then there’s no doubt that FC Cincinnati will remain at the top of the table for the remainder of the season.
Momentum in the Heat – No doubt about it, this match was miserably hot. If the fans expected the player’s momentum to slow down and waver in the scorching heat, they were wrong. The hydration breaks taken were much needed, and both clubs managed to keep up the pace the entire time. With FCC, it either takes the first half for the lads to find their momentum, or the momentum dies in the second half. Neither of these were the case tonight – the lads came out strong and kept up the pace throughout the entire 90-plus minutes. In the end, a well-earned three points will be lengthening FCC’s lead in the USL Eastern Conference.
Midfield Moments – FCC’s midfield was tenacious; the passing was some of the best we’ve seen all season. By the end of the first half, Michael Lahoud had completed 100 percent of his passes. Lahoud has proven time and time again to be a very valuable asset to FCC’s midfield. It seemed as if all of the lads were one cohesive unit, which was a much different performance when compared to Wednesday’s draw against Toronto. If all of these pieces continue to click, FC Cincinnati will continue to lead the conference.
16’ – Danni König (FCC)
90’ – Nazmi Albadawi (FCC)
FC Cincinnati Starting XI: Evan Newton (GK), Dekel Keinan, Forrest Lasso, Justin Hoyte, Blake Smith, Corben Bone, Michael Lahoud, Kenney Walker, Nazmi Albadawi, Danni König, Emmanuel Ledesma
Subs: Matt Bahner, Paddy Barrett, Daniel Haber (93’), Jimmy McLaughlin (77’), William Seymore, Spencer Richey, Emery Welshman (69’)
Ottawa Fury Starting XI: Maxime Crepeau (GK), Onua Obasi, Thomas Meilleur-Giguere, Colin Falvey, Eddie Edward, Kévin Oliveira, Chris Mannella, Jamar Dixon, Adonijah Reid, Tony Taylor, Carl Haworth
Subs: Daniel Monsalve, Kyle Porter, Nana Attakora, Cristian Portilla, Sergio Manesio, Jimmy-Shammar Sanon, Gabriel Wiethaeuper-Balbinotti
FC Cincinnati at Nashville SC – Sat. July 7th – 8:30 PM (EST) – Nissan Stadium