Match Recap: FC Cincinnati 3 - Portland Timbers 0

Match Recap: FC Cincinnati 3 - Portland Timbers 0
Sunday, March 17, 2019
Fortress Nippert, Cincinnati, Ohio
FC Cincinnati (0-1-1) vs. Portland Timbers (0-1-1)
Steve Haldeman

FC Cincinnati won their first match in MLS, and I may have lost my mind.

I'm not exactly sure how serotonin or endorphins work, but by the time Mathieu Deplagne scored Cincinnati's third goal on Sunday night in front of 32,250 fans at sold-out Nippert Stadium, I'd pretty much burned through a lifetime's worth of the happiness hormones in less than an hour.

I might have been okay after that first goal. Team Captain Kendall Waston headed in a free kick from Leonardo Bertone with 14:14 on the clock. FC Cincinnati scored its first ever home goal in MLS, the crowd erupted, and the team celebrated. The team has scored goals before. It was nice to get the first one at home out of the way early in the game. All of this was to be expected.

At the end of the first half, striker and Designated Player Fanendo Adi went down with what appeared to be a serious ankle injury. He was helped off the field, and super-sub Darren Mattocks took over after halftime.

I have said before that what FC Cincinnati does best is blow expectations out of the water. Scoring a home goal was to be expected. It's Nippert; that's how it works. Holding a first half advantage against the reigning Western Conference Champions just one week after drawing against the MLS Champions was a bonus. You'd be hard-pressed to find many who would have expected FCC would go up 2-0 on Portland.

In the 61', Roland Lamah took a shot from just outside the box that was deflected to Allan Cruz who back-heeled it into the net. It wasn't just the goal that will certainly make every top 10 list possible on MLS.com; it was the audacity. Timbers' Goalkeeper Jeff Attinella just shook his head. The roars and smoke rained down from the Bailey. It was too much. Cruz BACK-HEELED it into the net like he was playing a Harlem Globetrotter version of a pick-up game at a park. Now, there was a decent chance FCC might actually pull off the first home win! The crowd erupted, the team celebrated, etc.

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Two minutes later, Cincinnati scored a third goal, because why win when you can dominate, right? Expectations (and my mind) blown. Darren Mattocks has magic feet. He doesn't dribble the ball, he juggles it like a soccer sorcerer. He simply pulled a ball that was blistered 50 yards across goal by Victor Ulloa out of the sky and set it down with his right foot before blasting it at Mathieu Deplagne, who stabbed it home. FC Cincinnati went up 3-0. More celebrating. I think. I don't know for sure, because by then I’d lost my mind.

Going into this season few would have predicted that FC Cincinnati would come through that "Welcome to the Big Leagues, Kid" gauntlet of Seattle-Atlanta-Portland with four points intact. MLS pundits would have told us all to just simmer down and be realistic. But, that's what FCC did, and I have not been able to simmer down since about 7:00 PM last night.

What's even more crazy, is that FC Cincinnati looked like the better side for almost the entire game. Spencer Richey had three major league saves. The back line stifled Portland’s dynamic duo of Valeri and Blanco. The midfield was taking the ball off of the Timbers like they were a band of wily pickpockets from a Charles Dickens novel.

And, it seemed like EVERYONE was attacking. Cincinnati had 17 shots to Portland’s 10, and 7 shots on goal to Portland’s 3. As FCC’s MLS roster began to take shape, the big question was where would the goals come from. The answer now seems pretty clear: Everywhere from Anyone at Any time. FCC is showing that any one of them can score at any moment in the blink of an eye.

It’s way, way, way too early in a 34-game season to start watching the standings, but FCC has something that 10 other MLS teams don’t have: a win. Four points in three games, for the moment, have the Orange and Blue sitting in the top half of the Eastern Conference. Next week they travel to New England, who’ve drawn one with Dallas, and lost two back-to-back at home to That Yellow Team Up North and away to Toronto.

FC Cincinnati seems to be getting better by leaps and strides every game. I don't know what to expect in the near future, but I'm not guessing anymore until I get some of those endorphins back.

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FC Cincinnati Starting Lineup (4-4-2):
Spencer Richey (G), Mathieu Deplagne (D), Kendall Waston (D), Nick Hagglund (D), Alvas Powell (D), Victor Ulloa (M), Leonardo Bertone (M), Roland Lamah (M), Alan Cruz (M), Kekuta Manneh (F), Fanendo Adi (F) Substitutes: Darren Mattocks 46', Greg Garza 81', Emmanuel Ledesma 85’

Portland Timbers Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Jeff Attinella  (G), Zarek Valentin (D), Larrys Mabiala (D), Claude Dielna (D), Jorge Villafana (D), Cristhian Paredes (M), Bill Tuiloma (M), Dairon Asprilla (M), Diego Valeri (M), Sebastián Blanco (M), Lucas Melano (F) Substitutes: Andy Polo 66’, Jeremy Ebobisse 67’, David Guzman 79’ Red Card: Larrys Mabiala 70’ (Yellow Card Accumulation)


FC Cincinnati Goals:
Kendall Waston 15’

Allan Cruz 61’

Mathieu Deplagne 63’

The Pride