HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, KY – As developmental lessons go, Sunday night’s FCC 2 1-0 setback to Columbus Crew at Northern Kentucky University was mostly negative.
Tyrone Marshall’s team wasn’t routed on the night. Far from it, in fact. Possession on the night was also nearly dead even, but FCC 2 outshot its opponents 15 to 11.
But as Marshall said afterward, the hosts failed to produce the quality offensively to get back on level terms, despite playing most of the second half a man up after the dismissal of Columbus defender Jacob Erlandson.
Columbus went up in the third minute of the match through a strike by Taha Habroune following a failed clearance. Slow starts have been a fairly common feature for FCC 2 this season, but after about 15 minutes, the team began to win more possession and advance the ball toward the opposition penalty area. That’s where the threat by and large ended.
The three best chances for FCC 2 came in the first half from a thunderous drive by Salim Adams, and in the second half on a shot from the area by Gerado Valenzuela (set up by Bret Halsey) and another long-range bomb by center back Joey Akpunonu. Otherwise, the team’s efforts to build the attack resulted mainly in frustration.
“We had some quality of possession, and we created some chances, but we didn’t get the quality of shots we wanted,” Marshall said. “Columbus did a good job of condensing in the middle. We kept pushing but we didn’t have the quality to unlock it. We didn’t have the pace to get in behind and the final ball wasn’t there. We lacked creativity and imagination in the final third, and it shows. Being a man up we should be able to keep the ball a bit more and find the right moments, but we didn’t do that today.”
One mitigating factor for FCC 2 was the absence of Arquimides Ordonez, who is away on international duty with Guatemala at the FIFA U20 World Championship.
Marshall also lamented needing to substitute midfielders Salim Adams and Stiven Jimenez in the second half, out of concern they already had been booked in a physical game and might be vulnerable to another yellow card which would have reduced FCC 2 to 10 men.
“They’re going to be condensed and how you play against a team that is down a man is try and go wide,” Marshall said. “Once we got it wide we didn’t have runners in the box. Again we didn’t have an out-and-out striker who is going to make those runs because he wants to score goals. We have some guys who want to be on the ball more and not as much be in the box and be aggressive to score.”
One standout on the evening for FCC 2 was center back Joey Akpunonu. The first-team player and first-round draft pick from Bowling Green State showed a real quality of passing and vision from the back line, and contributed a number of timely steps to the ball when Columbus tried to mount attacks. His prescient read of an attempted Columbus clearance nearly resulted in a late equalizer, but his long-range effort was saved quite well by Columbus goalkeeper Brady Scott to preserve the visitors’ victory.
FCC 2 fell to 2-2-3 in league play and hosts Atlanta United 2 this Thursday at NKU.
Columbus Crew 2 Lineup
GK: Brady Scott
D: Coleman Gannon, Xavier Zengue, Jacob Erlandson, Ariel Mbumba (Stuart Ritchie), Clay Holstad
M: Charles Roberts IV (Cole Mrowka), Giorgio De Libera
F: Mataeo Bunbury (Noah Fuson), Taha Habroune (Abdirizak Mohamed) Gibran Rayo (Marco Micaletto)
Unused Substitutes: Stanislav Lopkes, Nicolas Rincon,
FC Cincinnati 2 Lineup
GK: Evan Louro
D: Morgan Marshall, Joseph Akpunonu, Kai Thomas, Isaiah Foster, Bret Halsey
M: Stiven Jimenez (Darrell Turcios), Salim Adams (Haroun Conteh), Gerado Valenzuela
F: Benjamin Stitz, Jesus Castellano
Unused Substitutes: Paul Walters, David Garcia, Hunter Morse, Mat Dreas