FC Cincinnati has picked up three points in back-to-back matches as it defeated the Chicago Fire 2-1 Saturday night at SeatGeek Stadium. Fanendo Adi’s first goal of the 2019 MLS Season in the 83rd minute gave FC Cincinnati its second road victory of the season.
Allan Cruz got hot during the Gold Cup and has continued his strong play since rejoining FC Cincinnati. Cruz scored his third goal of the season in the first minute of the match, tying Kekuta Manneh for the most goals on the team in MLS play. The strike by Cruz was also the quickest goal in MLS history for FC Cincinnati. Only the goal scored by Danish striker Danni Konig 28 seconds into the match against Nashville SC in the 2018 USL campaign was earlier.
Throughout the next 20 minutes, each side had a couple of corner kicks and shots but couldn’t generate any significant offensive play.
That all changed in the 22nd minute after captain Kendall Waston committed a foul. While the foul appeared to have occurred just outside of the box, video assistant referee review ruled a Chicago penalty kick because it was deemed that the foul by Waston was committed inside the penalty area. FC Cincinnati caught a major break as the penalty kick taken by Nicolas Gaitan in the 25th minute had Spencer Richey diving the wrong way, but the shot ringed off the left post.
The match was then delayed in the 26th minute due to lightning in the area. Going into the locker room, FC Cincinnati had all the momentum on its side and gave both sides plenty of time to think about what had occurred up to that point.
After a 58-minute delay, the match resumed with both sides having a few quality chances to put the ball in the back of the net. Fire forward C.J. Sapong put attempted a few headers, with one going over the frame of the net and the other being saved by Richey. In the 38th minute, Cruz had an opportunity to score his second goal of the half, attempting to chip the ball into the net, but the shot was cleared away by Francisco Calvo.
Chicago got the last laugh of the first half, however, as Emmanuel Ledesma committed a handball within the penalty box in the third minute of stoppage time. While the initial penalty kick by Gaitan was saved, Richey couldn’t hold on to the ball, allowing Gaitan to easily chip the ball into the net, making the match tied 1-1.
The pace of the second half was significantly slower. This change in pace was primarly a result of more fouls being called, including three yellow cards on FC Cincinnati within the first 15 minutes of the second half. Both sides made substitutions after the 60th minute in an attempt to create more scoring opportunities. Djordje Mihailovic was brought in the 64th minute and Fanendo Adi was brought in for Rashawn Dally in the 67th minute.
Pace continued to be slow, this time with the Chicago Fire picking up two yellow cards within seven minutes. Both sides had possession in the final third but were unable to do anything with it. That all changed in the 83rd minute when designated player Adi scored his first MLS goal of the season with a beautiful strike with his left foot, sending the ball into the bottom right corner of the net.
FC Cincinnati closed out the remainder of the match, giving the Orange and Blue back-to-back wins for the first time since March. FC Cincinnati equals the Columbus Crew on points with 17 but remains in 12th place on goal differential.
- Chicago Fire has bad luck when taking penalty kicks against FC Cincinnati — like really bad luck. Gaitan’s PK attempt in the 25th minute was struck well but just missed going through the bottom left corner of the net. There’s a rumor that the left goalpost was rubbed by Mitch Hildebrandt before the match, but we all know that we can’t trust everything that we read on the internet. Even though Gaitan scored on a putback at the end of the first half, Richey still made the initial save on the second penalty kick. If my math is correct, the Fire are now 1-for-6 on penalty kicks against FC Cincinnati, with Bastian Schweinsteiger as the only one to convert.
- The backline played just as well without Nick Hagglund in the starting XI. The defense was not perfect — far from it — but the overall quality of the backline did not appear to decrease without Hagglund on the pitch. With the addition of Maikel van der Werff at center back, where does Hagglund fit on this team.
- There are some rumors that new general manager Gerard Nijkamp does not care much for Richey and is looking for a new keeper. Richey has done nothing but fight to earn the title of No. 1 goalkeeper for the Orange and Blue, beating out Evan Newton in 2018 and Przemyslaw Tyton so far this season. The improvement he has made under goalkeeper coach Jack Stern is quite remarkable and should continue to start for FCC until his form indicates otherwise.
- Bonus thought: With Adi finally scoring a goal, does he start Thursday against DC United?
Matchday 20 – Chicago Fire vs. FC Cincinnati
SeatGeek Stadium, Bridgeview, Illinois
Result: FC Cincinnati 2, Chicago Fire 1
Chicago Fire Starting XI (4-1-4-1): Kenneth Kronholm (GK) Jorge Corrales, Francisco Calvo, Johan Kappelhof, Brandt Bronico, Dax McCarty (C), Aleksandar Katai, Nico Gaitan (goal 45’+4′), Przemyslaw Frankowski, Fabian Herbers, C.J. Sapong
Subs: Richard Sanchez, Grant Lillard, Diego Campos, Marcelo, Djordje Mihailovic (Herbers 64′), Amando Moreno (Katai 90’+1), Nemanja Nikolic (Frankowski 74′)
FC Cincinnati Starting XI (4-3-3): Spencer Richey (GK), Matthieu Deplagne, Kendall Waston (C), Justin Hoyte, Alvas Powell, Allan Cruz (goal 1′), Caleb Stanko, Leonardo Bertone, Kekuta Manneh, Emmanuel Ledesma, Kekuta Manneh, Rashawn Dally
Subs: Przemyslaw Tyton, Victor Ulloa (Manneh 84′) , Fanendo Adi (Dally 67′, goal 83′), Nick Hagglund (Cruz 90’+2′), Corben Bone, Logan Gdula, Tommy McCabe
CIN- Allan Cruz (1′)
CHI- Nico Gaitan (45’+4′)
CIN- Fanendo Adi (83′)
CIN- 48′ Spencer Richey (yellow)
CIN- 52′ Emmanuel Ledesma (yellow)
CIN- 59′ Leonardo Bertone (yellow)
CHI- 72′ Jorge Corrales (yellow)
CHI-78′ Djordje Mihailovic (yellow)
vs. D.C. United, 8 p.m. Thursday, Nippert Stadium