International Friendly – FC Cincinnati vs Espanyol
Nippert Stadium – Attendance: 16,135
Result: FC Cincinnati: 2 – RCD Espanyol: 3
FC Cincinnati played well in a hard-fought defeat in its 2018 international friendly against La Liga side RCD Espanyol. The Spaniards should walk away impressed by a USL squad who pushed Los Periquitos to the limit several times in an entertaining match.
The Orange & Blue broke their scoreless streak in their international friendly series in the fifth minute off a counter attack. Starting midfielder Will Seymore stole an Espanyol pass and drove into the visitors attacking third. Forward Emery Welshman received a centering pass from the midfielder and promptly sent a through-ball to Russell Cicerone, who finished his shot at the far post past keeper Diego Lopez.
Keeper Spencer Richey made an excellent save in the 22nd minute denying a dangerous chance from Álvaro Vázquez . The Espanyol player got free on the left side of the penalty area when Richey charged the Spaniard and denied his chance.
The visitors got on the board off an FC Cincinnati miscue in the 31st minute. Defender Sem de Wit was attempting to relieve some of the mounting pressure from Espanyol and sent a hard pass toward Will Seymore. Midfielder Víctor Sánchez stole the attempt and drove at Richey, who committed low, and Sánchez was able to chip the FCC keeper to level the match. Both clubs had additional chances to score in the half but could not tally before the break.
During halftime FC Cincinnati and Espanyol helped celebrate the rise of FCC to the first division in the U.S. FCC president and general manager Jeff Berding and majority owner Carl Lindner III expressed their thanks to the city, while a representative of Espanyol/La Liga was eager to share his thanks for being a part of the special evening. One line of note was the Catalan club’s desire to maintain the relationship going into the future. Espanyol have a good track record of player development and could be a good partner in the future.
Keeper Mark Village and midfielder Tyler Gibson each made their FCC debut on Saturday, entering the match at halftime. Gibson had a great look seven minutes into the half off a great pass from Nazmi Albadawi and nearly put the homeside up a goal. The midfielder tried a curler to the far post but missed the goal by inches.
Village was called into action in the 59th minute, pushing an Espanyol shot wide. The laser was the Spanish side’s first chance of the half with FC Cincinnati controlling the first 20 minutes of the half.
Espanyol took a 2-1 lead against the run of play in the 69th minute as Sergio Garcia deposited a shot past Village. The keeper could do little to stop Garcia as the visitor had a shot deflect his way, and he one-touched the ball past the keeper. Village impressed minutes later, making a highlight on consecutive shots stopping Espnayol from point-blank range. While he will be unhappy the vistors scored, the keeper should be proud in his performance.
Coach Alan Koch would make a “line change” in the 73rd minute, bringing on seven players who are mostly starters. The squad came out hot with center back Paddy Barrett moved to holding midfield role.
Forward Emmanuel Ledesma made the goal of the evening in the 76th minute. Jimmy McLauglin laid off a ball to the Argentine about 25 yards outside the box. Ledesma placed his strike into the top far post upper 90 to draw the homeside level at 2-2.
The lead was not long held as Sergi Darder scored the winning goal in the 79th minute. Garcia played the ball to Darder in a tight area around the penalty spot. Darder received the ball, opened his hips and finished to the far post past Newton in a quality play by both Espanyol players.
FC Cincinnati battled hard during the dying minutes but could not get a goal back in what was surely the most entertaining and even summer friendly the club has had to date.
Quality You Don’t See in USL – While RCD Espanyol is working up to fitness, their players’ quality was undeniable. The execution in tight spaces along with pace and finishing was at a level far beyond most USL and MLS clubs. The goal by Darder at the end was one that FCC will need to shut down as they transition up a league in 2019.
Village and Gibson – It was great to see both Village and Gibson get onto the field Saturday. They are both great personalities in the community, and fans were happy to see them rewarded with an appearance. Village and Gibson each had a highlight on the night that can be celebrated by the fans and the players alike.
FC Cincinnati pushed Espanyol – FCC should be proud of its performance. They pushed and applied pressure to the La Liga side all night. The Orange & Blue did not look out of place like in years past and showed quality and fight when needed. The goals were quality for FCC, and they probably could have had more. Even though the match was a “loss”, the players and staff represented the club well.
Bonus: I love our fans – If you haven’t read up on the history of Espanyol, on Aug. 8, 2009, Espanyol captain Daniel Jarque, then 26, died from a cardiac arrest in the Italian village of Coverciano, where the club was at the time after playing several fixtures in Italy. Since then, at every match in the 21st minute – his former shirt number – for a full minute an ovation is made in his honor. Espanyol supporters also pay tribute to Jarque by singing his name. FCC supporters paid their own tribute to the club and the Jarque by making a special two-pole in his memory along with the tribute in the 21st.
🙌🏻 Un gran gesto de #FairPlay 🙌🏻
— LaLiga (@LaLiga) July 29, 2018
FC Cincinnati Starting XI: Richey (GK): Laing, De Wit, Barrett, Bahner; Walker, Seymore; McLaughlin, Albadawi, Cicerone, Welshman
RCD Espanyol Starting XI: Diego López (GK); Pipa, David López, Naldo, Aarón; Víctor Sánchez, Álex López, Melendo; Puado, Piatti, Álvaro Vázquez
FC Cincinnati XI: Village (GK) (73′ – Newton); Laing (73′ – Smith), De Wit (73′ – Keinan), Barrett, Bahner (73′ – Hoyte); Gibson (73′ – Lasso), Seymore ; McLaughlin, Albadawi (73′ – Konig), Cicerone (73′ – Ledesma), Welshman (61′- Ameobi)
RCD Espanyol XI: Diego López (GK) (75′ – Luis Lopez); Pipa, David López, Naldo, Aarón; Víctor Sánchez, Álex López (61′- Sergi Darder), Sergio García; Puado (77′- Borja Iglesias), Piatti (68′ – Leo Baptistao), Álvaro Vázquez (61′ – Hernán Pérez)
5′ FC Cincinnati – Cicerone (Welshman)
31′ RCD Espanyol – V. Sanchez
69′ RCD Espanyol – S. Garcia
76′ FC Cincinnati – Ledesma
79′ RCD Espanyol – Darder (S. Garcia)
Next Match: FC Cincinnati vs. Nashville SC – Sat. August 4th – 7:30 PM (EST) – Nippert Stadium