2024 Match Reports

FCC kicks off 2024 in style with CCC win

PHOTO: Concacaf.com

FC Cincinnati returned to meaningful action Thursday night in Kingston, Jamaica. The Orange and Blue took on Cavalier FC in Round One of the CONCACAF Champions Cup. After 90 minutes. FCC walked away with a 2-0 victory over their Caribbean foe.

FCC had several debutants and interesting additions in the starting lineup. Big-time free agent signee Miles Robinson paired up with the 2023 MLS Defender of the Year Matt Miazga and Ian Murphy in the backline. Czech League signee Pavel Bucha slotted in the midfield with Obinna Nwobodo and 2023 MLS MVP Luciano Acosta. Free agent signee Corey Baird paired up with a surprise starting Sergio Santos in the forward position. Aaron Boupendza was not available for the match due to his Visa status creating a potential reenter to the United States issue as reported by Charter Chapley of FCC. As for one of the biggest question marks going into the match, Bret Halsey and Yuya Kubo got the start at their respective fullback positions.

The match began with free-flowing play from the two sides. In the 22nd minute, an FCC corner resulted in a Halsey shot that was blocked by Gadail Irving. Irving was slow to get out on Baird who then delivered a ball across that Murphy headed in front of Santos. Coming on him fast, Santos was only able to head the ball right in goalkeeper Jeadine White’s gloves. White immediately launched the ball forward and Miazga messed up playing the aerial duel with Orlando Russell. Russell gathered the ball and charged forward into the box where he unleashed a shot on frame. However, Roman Celetano was in a good position to make the save.

After a few more chances, Cavalier was the first to adjust and settled into a low block to minimize spacing in their defense. Star center back Kyle Ming went down in his own box after a collision with Miazga. With the key defender showing noticeable signs of discomfort, FCC decided to rachet up the press. In the 38th minute, Kubo was able to get behind the defense and squeeze the ball into Acosta, whose shot was blocked by Ming. Nwobodo collected the rebound and released a shot that was again blocked by Ming. Only a moment later, Acosta delivered a threatening cross into the box that FCC targets were unable to get onto.

As the minutes wound down in the first half, FCC was having its fill of possession. Cavalier was perfectly content absorbing the pressure, though. But in the fifth minute of stoppage time, a give-and-go on a throw-in found Halsey charging along the end line into the box. Halsey sent the box back in front of frame and Santos buried his left foot attempt into the back of the net. FCC would carry that one to nil advantage into the locker room as immediately after the goal, the halftime whistle sounded. 

The second half was largely the same as the later portions of the first half. Cavalier invited FCC to attempt to solve their low-lock scheme. The mire of possession held, possession lost and possession quickly regained was the story of the first twenty minutes for FCC. Cavalier opened things up a bit in the 64th minute when Dwayne Allen was able to find the ever-dangerous Shaniel Thomas in the middle of FCC’s box. Thomas tried to set up a shot but was foiled by a well-timed tackle from behind by Kubo.

In the 82nd minute, FCC had its rebuttal of near goals. A corner kick by Acosta found Bucha at the top of the box, creating a nearly identical opportunity from last year’s U.S. Open Cup match against Pittsburgh. Bucha’s attempt, unlike Alvaro Barreal’s, pinged off the crossbar. Seconds later, substitute Dado Valenzuela slipped behind the Cavalier defense and put it in the net. However, Valenzuela was considerably offside and the goal was not given. Following those opportunities, Malik Pinto and another FCC debutant Kipp Keller entered the match for Bucha and Miazga.

It didn’t take long for Pinto to make his impact on the match felt. In the 87th minute, Quimi Ordonez collected a low-crossing pass and backheeled the ball to Pinto. Pinto opted to strike the ball to the far post and successfully got it past the outstretched White. This was Pinto’s first career goal for the Orange and Blue. FCC doubled its lead and was able to see out the result.

With a 2-0 win on the road, FCC has a distinct advantage heading into the second leg. That match will be played at home in TQL Stadium on Wednesday, February 28.

CIN: Roman Celentano, Bret Halsey (Alvas Powell 60’), Ian Murphy, Matt Miazga (Kipp Keller 84’), Miles Robinson, Yuya Kubo, Pavel Bucha (Malik Pinto 84’), Obinna Nwobodo, Luciano Acosta (C), Corey Baird (Arquimides Ordoñez 77’), Sergio Santos (Gerardo Valenzuela 60’)

Substitutes not used: Alec Kann, Paul Walters, Evan Louro, Marco Angulo, Isaiah Foster, London Aghedo, Stiven Jimenez

CAV: Jeadine White, Makenson Cadet (Jerome McLeary 85’), Richard King, Jeovanni Laing, Jalmaro Calvin, Dwayne Atkinson, Dwayne Allen, Kyle Ming, Orlando Russell (Shamar Watson 46’), Shaniel Thomas, Gadail Irving (C)

Substitutes not used: Vino Barclett, Alexavier Gooden, Keyanni Jackson, Jaheem Frazer, Wayne Gordon, Ronaldo Robinson, Matthew Ellis

Next Match: MLS Regular Season: vs Toronto FC – Sunday, February 25, at 2:30 p.m. EST – AppleTV+

Next CCC Match: CONCACAF Champions Cup: vs Cavalier FC (2-0) – Wednesday, February 28, at 6:00 p.m. EST – Tubi

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