Spencer Richey gave no excuses. Not the inclement weather and not his club’s status as an expansion team just five matches into its MLS existence. FC Cincinnati was just flat beat.
Richey said Saturday’s 2-0 loss in a driving rain to the Philadelphia Union at Nippert Stadium was much like last week’s match from the opposing point of view. He offered the Orange and Blue weren’t as ready to play as they should have been.
“(Coach) Alan (Koch) made a comparison last week that New England probably didn’t come as ready to play as we did,” Richey said. “You could say the same in reverse this week. They came in, and their application was better than ours was, and the scoreline showed it.
“At this point the season’s underway and there’s no point in saying we’re an expansion team and this is going to be a super-long process. It’s a win-now business, and expansion teams recently have come in and had success quickly. It’s some new faces, but we’re not going to use that as an excuse to drop points, especially at home. Whether we’re an expansion team or not, there’s always room for improvement. We’ll reflect on the game and try to be better against Kansas City.”
The Union (2-2-1, seven points) dominated possession and the match. With two second-half goals, they leap ahead of FC Cincinnati (2-2-1, seven points) in the Eastern Conference table. The Orange and Blue now sit in fifth place on goal differential.
Wet conditions at Nippert certainly appeared to be a factor, leading to unsure footing at times.
“The guys were frozen,” Koch said. “Before I even had a chance to speak to the team, a few of the players were in the shower in their full kits. But the weather is the same for both teams. It doesn’t impact the result. Philly just came out there ready to play, and they deserved the three points.”
FC Cincinnati again played without striker Fanendo Adi and was also without center back Kendall Waston, both nursing injuries. It started in a 4-2-2-2 with Roland Lamah and Allan Cruz out wide and Darren Mattocks and Kekuta Manneh up top. But the Orange and Blue couldn’t get much going offensively. Philadelphia dominated possession with 62.7% of the ball.
The club managed just one first-half shot in the 42nd minute, when a Manneh attempt was blocked.
FC Cincinnati shot just five times, two on target. Perhaps the best look came in the 51st minute, when Lamah had a clean look at goal, but Philadelphia’s Andre Blake made a decent save. In contrast, the Union had 15 shots. Three were on target, and two went for goals.
“We had a few attacking chances, but Philly had way more than us,” Koch said. “They created, they controlled, they came and were the better team tonight. Obviously when you play at home you want to create as many chances as you can, and unfortunately we didn’t create that many chances tonight. But it’s a game of moments. One of the set pieces goes in, one of the chances we create goes in, when we’re 1-0 down, we could score to tie it up 1-1, but we didn’t. They go down and score 2-0 and it becomes a very difficult game. Even after that we still had chances to capitalize on those moments, and in this business you have to capitalize on those moments.”
Those moments for the Union came just 11 minutes apart. On a 47th minute counter attack, David Accam found Marco Fabian at the top of the box, and Fabian banged it home to give Philadelphia a 1-0 lead.
That goal broke an FC Cincinnati run of 312 minutes without conceding. The last opponent to score before Fabian was Atlanta’s Josef Martinez in the fifth minute on March 10.
Then in the 58th minute, Accam slid through FC Cincinnati’s back line into the 6-yard box and snuck it past Richey at the far post to extend the Union lead to 2-0.
“It was a bit of a wacky bounce and he did well with it,” Richey said. “Our preventive coverage wasn’t great.”
Frankie Amaya, FC Cincinnati’s No. 1 SuperDraft pick, made his MLS debut Saturday, subbing on in the 76th minute. He completed 16 of 19 passes (93.8%) and had a tackle.
“It was a moment I dreamed of as a kid,” Amaya said. “When he (Koch) called me up and said I’m going in, it was a shocker. I can’t thank him enough.”
Matchday 5 – FC Cincinnati vs. Philadelphia Union
Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati
Result: Philadelphia Union 2, FC Cincinnati 0
FC Cincinnati Starting XI (4-2-2-2): Spencer Richey (GK), Greg Garza (C), Forrest Lasso, Nick Hagglund, Mathieu Deplagne, Leonardo Bertone, Roland Lamah, Victor Ulloa, Allan Cruz, Kekuta Manneh, Darren Mattocks
Subs: Jimmy Hague, Eric Alexander, Frankie Amaya (76′, Cruz), Justin Hoyte, Caleb Stanko (71′, Ulloa), Alvas Powell, Kenny Saief (59′, Manneh)
Philadelphia Union Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Andre Blake (GK), Jack Elliott, Auston Trusty, Kai Wagner, Raymon Gaddis, Haris Medunjanin, Marco Fabian, Alejandro Bedoya (c), Brenden Aaronson, David Accam, Fafa Picault
Subs: Ilsinho, Matt Freese, Jamiro Monteiro (71′, Fabian), Mark McKenzie, Warren Creavelle (90′, Aaronson), Cory Burke (66′, Accam), Olivier Mbiazo
PHI — Marco Fabian 47′
PHI — David Accam 58′
vs. Sporting Kansas City, 3 p.m. April 7, Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati