Nippert Stadium – Cincinnati, OH
Result: FC Cincinnati: 3 – Charleston Battery: 0
FC Cincinnati extends its unbeaten streak to 13 matches following a 3-0 win over Charleston Battery on Saturday night. Both clubs came into this match on an unbeaten streak – FC Cincinnati at 12 matches and the Battery at 11. This match was expected to be a physical one for the top of the table, and both clubs came prepared.
FCC head Coach Alan Koch stuck with a lineup that has proven itself all season. The most notable difference was the debut of midfielder Fatai Alashe. Alashe signed with FCC just a couple of weeks ago from San Jose Earthquakes of MLS. Emery Welshman made his way back onto the pitch following a three-match suspension earlier this season.
The match started out with a quick pace by the Battery. It was proving to be a very physical match within the first 10 minutes, with both clubs fighting hard for possession. The addition of Alashe at FCC’s midfield worked well – the midfielder created opportunities and kept the passing clean and fast-paced.
In the 13th minute, Emmanuel Ledesma received a yellow card, his eighth of the season. Barely five minutes later, Ledesma responded to the yellow card with a beautiful left-footer from just outside the box. Joe Kuzminsky, keeper for the Battery, was unable to stop the strike, and the stadium of 27,000 plus went crazy. This was Ledesma’s 11th goal of the season.
This early lead helped build up the momentum that FCC desperately needed to keep the match on track. The Battery held their own, keeping FCC on its toes and fighting for possession at midfield; it was not an easy task. While passing remained clean, FCC had a fair amount of turnovers at midfield. However the combination of the strong center backs Paddy Barrett and Forrest Lasso and goalkeeper Spencer Richey proved to be impenetrable.
As halftime approached, FCC proved that it wasn’t happy with a one-goal lead. In first-half stoppage time, Corben Bone doubled the lead from inside the box, giving FCC a 2-0 lead.
The second half started similar to the first. The Battery came out with an aggressive pace that FCC quickly matched. Both clubs kept up the momentum, and both had opportunities to score. Kuzminsky blocked shots by both Nazmi Albadawi and Fanendo Adi, keeping the score at 2-0.
The Battery drove the ball down the pitch multiple times, headed for the net, only to be blocked by Lasso, Barrett, or Richey. However, neither club capitalized on their possession in the second half.
In second-half stoppage time, the Battery ended scoring an own goal for FCC, extending the lead to 3-0.
FC Cincinnati travels next week for two matches in four days. The club will face Atlanta United FC 2 on Wednesday in Lawrenceville, Ga. Ledesma will be ineligible to play against Atlanta United FC 2 during this match because of yellow card accumulations.
Early Start – FCC fans went into this match knowing how important it was – a fight to stay at the top of the table. Charleston is an incredibly strong club, and getting an early start and keeping up the momentum was key. The early goal by Ledesma was the fuel to the fire that FCC needed for this match. In matches this physical, it’s important to get an early lead because it’s easier to keep the upper hand than to gain it from behind.
Defense, Defense, Defense – FCC’s back line stepped it up against Charleston, knowing full well what they would be capable of if they gained enough momentum to get through the center backs. Thankfully Lasso and Barrett stopped most of the shots before they even got to Richey. Blake Smith was everywhere he needed to be, proving once more that he is one of the most consistent players on the pitch and an asset to every match. When one of the defenders weren’t there, Richey was, keeping a clean sheet with more than a couple spectacular saves. Overall, FCC’s defense was very impressive.
Momentum and Pace – Even though FCC kept a clean sheet, it wasn’t easy – FCC kept the momentum up and brought in a much-needed three points. Physical matches can easily lead to overall fatigue and a slower pace, but the boys in Orange and Blue did not allow that to happen on Saturday night. They kept up the momentum, even though it wasn’t the cleanest match, and came out on top with a win, securing FCC’s lead at the top of their conference.
Emmanual Ledesma – FCC – 22’
Corben Bone – FCC – 46’
Battery Own Goal – 93’
FC Cincinnati Starting XI: Spencer Richey (GK), Justin Hoyte, Forrest Lasso, Paddy Barrett (C), Blake Smith, Corben Bone, Kenney Walker, Nazmi Albadawi, Fatai Alashe, Emmanuel Ledesma, Emery Welsman
Subs: Fanendo Adi (73’), Matt Bahner, Russell Cicerone, Dekel Keinan, Michael Lahoud (62’), Jimmy McLaughlin, Evan Newton (GK)
Charleston Battery Starting XI: Joe Kuzminsky (GK), Skylar Thomas, O’Brian Woodbine, Taylor Mueller, Jarad van Schaik, Neveal Hackshaw, Ataulla Guerra, Vincenzo Candela, Tah Brian Anunga, Gordon Wild, Kotaro Higashi
Subs: Odsinel Cooper (GK), Leland Archer, Nico Rittmeyer (14’), Victor Mansaray, Angelo Kelly, Ian Svantesson (75’), Patrick Okonkwo (63’)
FC Cincinnati vs. Atlanta United FC 2 – August 22nd, 2018 – 7:90 PM – Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, GA