#30- FC Cincinnati at Penn FC
Last year Cincinnati needed a late second-half stoppage time score from Jimmy McLaughlin to tie the game and walk away with a point from FNB Stadium, the island-based facility in the middle of the Susquehanna River. This year Alan Koch’s team regrouped after a lackluster first half and, behind a pair of second-half goals from Emmanuel Ledesma and Corben Bone, walk out of Harrisburg with a 2-1 victory and the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Cincinnati traveled to Harrisburg carrying an 18-game unbeaten streak into the match and looking to lock up the top seed in the East. Penn FC, still holding onto its own playoff hopes, were not going to roll over and give the game to the Orange and Blue. FC Cincinnati left its MLS signees, Fanendo Adi and Fatai Alashe, at home, but it did give Tyler Gibson his much anticipated first start in the USL after a preseason leg injury. While Matt Bahner got the start at right back, giving Justin Hoyte a much-needed rest.
The game was not well played by either team in the first half with both sides struggled to maintain possession, and much of that could be attributed to the narrow pitch and the slick conditions. However, Penn FC had the better first half, and in the 33rd minute capitalized on Cincinnati’s inability to maintain possession. Following a sloppy foul by Cincy’s Ledesma, the Penn team sent the ensuing cross to the far side of the penalty box, where Harri Hawkins headed the ball back across the box to a wide open Paulo Júnior, who easily slotted it home providing the home team with an early lead and confidence. The rest of the half played out with neither team mounting much of an attack and the teams entered the locker rooms with the homside ahead 1-0.
The second half was a completely different story for both teams. Penn FC seemed content on making FC Cincinnati work for the leveling score, and it was working well until Cincinnati’s Koch made his substitutions. He brought on Emery Welshman, Nazmi Albadawi and Kenney Walker in quick succession, and it immediately paid off when Welshman caused a turnover at midfield that resulted in a quick counter. The four vs. three counter ended with Welshman launching a shot that Penn FC keeper, Sean Lewis, was able to stop. However, the rebound fell right at the feet of Ledesma, and he quickly deposited into the back of the net, knotting the game at 1-1. The goal gave the playmaker 14 goals for the year and allowed Ledesma to follow through on a Twitter promise he made to Paul, an FC Cincinnati Fan from Philadelphia, to try and score a goal.
Perfect my brother…see you Saturday!!! I hope to play and score a goal for you my friend!!! 💪🏼💪🏼💪🏼
— Emmanuel Ledesma (@LedeManu18) September 19, 2018
After the goal, the game started to open up, and it eventually bit the capital city team in the 84th minute. Penn was putting pressure on Spencer Richey, but FCC quelled the home team and eventually created some breathing room when Bone ended up with the ball on his foot just at the top of the penalty area. He coolly sliced the ball around the Penn keeper and into the net giving the Orange and Blue the lead they were looking for.
Penn FC would not go quietly though. The home side launched into an all-out attack with its playoff lives at stake and launch five shots in the final few minutes. The most dangerous shot was in extra time when Penn’s Richard Menjivar received a pass just inside the penalty area and beat Richey, but Forrest Lasso was there to clear the ball off the line, helping the visiting side walk away with a 2-1 victory.
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) September 23, 2018
The Number 3
This was the third straight game Corben Bone scored the game winner. The three points locked up the top seed in the East. Another three points guarentees them the Supporters Shield for most points in the league. Finally, number three also stands for Forrest Lasso, who clear a sure goal off the line in the final moments.
Finish Strong or Rest
The team travels to Richmond midweek but then follows that with three games against some of the top defensive units in Indy 11, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, and Nashville SC. The team has an opportunity to go for a point total that would be best Points per Game all-time in USL and most victories or Koch may decide to rest some of the guys for a playoff run.
How cool is this?
The entire team went over to Paul, the fan from Philadelphia, and brought him onto the pitch and took a picture with him. This team embodies the word community.
FC Cincinnati Starting XI: Spencer Richey (GK), Matt Bahner, Forrest Lasso, Dekel Keinan, Blake Smith, Michael Lahoud (67′), Tyler Gibson, Corben Bone (goal 84′), Jimmy McLaughlin (67′), Emmanuel Ledesma (goal 68′), Danni Konig
Subs: Evan Newton, Paddy Barrett, Kenney Walker (67′), Pa Konate, Emery Welshman, Russel Cicerone, Nazmi Albadwi (67′)
Penn FC Starting XI: Sean Lewis (GK), Harri Hawkins, Tiago Calvano(82′), Kyle Venter, Jake Bond (87′), Richard Menjivar, Dan Metzger, Calvin Rezende, Paulo Júnior (goal 33′), Aaron Dennis, Isaac Osae(72′)
Subs: Jacob Lissek, Haruna Shaibu (87′), Salvatore Barone, Miguel Jaime, Baffoe Prince (82′), Lucky Mkosana (72′), Walter Ramírez
PEN — Paulo Junior 33′
CIN — Emmanuel Ledesma 68′
CIN — Corben Bone 84′
Next USL Match: FC Cincinnati at Richmond Kickers– Wed. Sept. 26 – 7 p.m. – Richmond, Va.