FC Cincinnati (10-1-3) took its league-leading record out west for a matchup versus a struggling Colorado Rapid (2-7-6) squad. The Orange and Blue were able to add another three points thanks to a 1-0 win.
In a very congested spot in the 2023 schedule, a concern coming into the match was match fitness for FCC. FCC had played three matches in 10 days coming into this matchup. This location is notorious for challenging the stamina of athletes, as it sits a thousand feet above sea level in thinner air. But FCC was up to the challenge by fielding a very familiar lineup.
The match started out with FCC finding lots of space in Colorado’s defending third. In the fourth minute, Ray Gaddis found Lucho Acosta in the box, which Lucho Acosta uncharacteristically had a poor touch that sent the ball wide of the goal. In the seventh minute, Brandon Vazquez made the Rapids’ goalkeeper William Yarbrough extend to save a screaming shot from outside of the box.
FCC had a favorable amount of possession in the first half. At one point, the side enjoyed an 81 percent to 19 percent possession advantage. This advantage was ultimately foiled with poor connection and touches on the ball.
In the 33rd minute, Obinna Nwobodo impressively drove the ball through pressure from FCC’s defending third to its attacking third. He found Dominique Badji in the box who had a crack at it, slipping the ball past the left foot of Yarbrough into the back of the net. This was Badji’s first goal with the Orange and Blue in 34 appearances in all competitions. Pat Noonan was asked about what it means for Badji to open his scoring log.
“I’m really happy for Dom.” Noonan said. “You know, it’s a long time coming with what he does for our group and what he means to our group, you want to see guys like that rewarded. And tonight was certainly a good time for him to get that goal.”
In the second half, a steady rain set in. This certainly did not bog down the Colorado Rapids. In the 48th minute, a spilled clearance found Rapids midfielder Connor Ronan at the top of the box. His shot was Colorado’s best attempt on goal, going past Roman Celentano and bouncing off the inside of the far post.
In the 51st minute, FCC answered with a pacing run by Badji into the left side of the Rapids’ box. He sent the ball across the face of the goal to Junior Moreno whose low shot was dealt with by a diving Colorado defender.
The teams then exchanged a series of chances which were all spoiled by mistouches and inaccurate long balls. When in the 67th minute substitute Sergio Santos missed FCC’s best chance on goal for the night. Varbrough spilled a shot from Yuya Kubo and it found Santos, whose first touch of the night went well over the open net. In the 73rd minute, Santos was subbed off with an apparent right leg injury.
The Rapids then had a series of questions for FCC’s young goalkeeper, Celentano. In the 82nd minute, Colorado’s Keegan Rosenberry unloaded a cracker from far outside of the box that needed Celentano’s intervention to send it wide of goal. A minute later forward, Kèvin Cabral made a run into the box where he unleashed a shot that again required Celentano to make a save.
However, the FCC defense held strong and saw out yet another clean sheet. FCC traveled back to Ohio on Saturday with an eight-point lead in the Eastern Conference and a seven-point lead in the Supporters’ Shield race.
CIN: Roman Celentano, Álvaro Barreal (Santiago Arias 74’), Ian Murphy, Matt Miazga, Yerson Mosquera, Ray Gaddis, Junior Moreno (Yuya Kubo 66’), Obinna Nwobodo, Luciano Acosta (C) (Marco Angulo (90+1’), Dominique Badji (Sergio Santos 65’, Malik Pinto 74’), Brandon Vazquez
Substitutes not used: Alec Kann, Alvas Powell, Joey Akpunonu, Gerardo Valenzuela
COL: William Yarbrough (C), Keegan Rosenberry, Danny Wilson, Andreas Maxso, Lalas Abubakar (Moise Bombito 46’), Anthony Markanich (Cole Bassett 77’), Danny Leyva, Connor Ronan, Jonathan Lewis, Calvin Harris (Yosuke Hanya 46’), Kevin Cabral
Substitutes not used: Marko Ilic, Alex Gersbach, Steven Beitashour, Malon Vargas, Daouda Amadou
COL – Kevin Cabral (Yellow Card) 62’
CIN – Obinna Nwobodo (Yellow Card) 64’
Next Match: at NYCFC on Wednesday, May 31 (Apple TV+)