Match Recap: FC Cincinnati 0 - Philadelphia Union 2
Match Recap: FC Cincinnati 0 - Philadelphia Union 2
Saturday, March 30, 2019 Nippert Stadium, Lake Cincinnati, Ohio
FC Cincinnati (2-1-1) vs. Philadelphia Union (1-2-1)
Those of us who live here in Cincinnati, Ohio, where it's 72 and sunny all year long aren't accustomed to the cold, rain, and snow. A blustery Spring day, complete with a passing monsoon, and a cold front that drops the temperature 30 degrees in less that two hours is just not something indicative of the stable, consistent climate in our little slice of paradise here along the banks of the crystal-blue Ohio River. But, as Longfellow said, "Into each life some rain must fall / Some days must be dark and dreary."
So it was on Saturday, March 30 at Nippert Stadium where FC Cincinnati suffered their second loss of the young MLS season 2-0 to the visiting Philadelphia Union. It marked the first time that FCC has been shut out in five games and the first loss at home this year.
The season has been going along far better than expected for the Orange & Blue, so hopes were high heading into Cincinnati's second home match of 2019. Having won the previous two matches 3-0 to the visiting Portland Timbers, and 2-0 away at New England, fans were riding a wave of enthusiasm. Down four starters to International duty last week in New England, FCC's bench stepped up big for an encouraging victory.
It seems, though, that the International grind caught up with the boys this week, as a number injuries and some apparent fatigue, compounded by a bone-chilling deluge of wind and rain, left the team one step behind the surging Philadelphia Union for most of Saturday's game.
Fanendo Adi, FC Cincinnati's DP Super Striker is still out with an undisclosed ankle injury that is starting to seem more serious than it originally appeared. Emmanuel Ledesma who started with great success at Forward versus New England picked up a late knock in training, leaving the Orange & Blue attack depth thin. Darren Mattocks, fresh off International duty, was left to play the full 90' up top alone in the freezing wind-whipped rainstorm.
Captain Kendall Waston was also out from a minor calf strain suffered in training; although he also showed signs of a minor lower leg injury during Costa Rica's match against Jamaica earlier this week. Both Allan Cruz (who'd also featured in the Costa Rica match) and Victor Ulloa were subbed out of this Saturday's match late in the second half, and both looked to be the worse for wear and water-logged when they exited.
All in all, Cincinnati looked like a team with a little less gas in the tank, and Philadelphia took the initiative from the start.
The first half saw a flurry of opportunistic attacks and corner kicks from the opposition, giving Philadelphia a 7-1 advantage on shots, and a staggering 9-1 advantage on corners, not to mention a lopsided 63% of first half possession. Still, Cincinnati managed to get back to the locker room without giving up a goal.
A little more than midway through the first half, the pouring rain let up for a few minutes, and in the 27', Roland Lamah turned the corner on a precise pass up the touch line from Greg Garza, and poked a ball into Philly's goal. The Assistant Referee's flag had already gone up, though, as Lamah was a step offside when he received the ball. There were a number of other promising chances, but Lamah's offside ball was as close as Cincinnati's attack got to actually scoring in the match.
A confident Philadelphia Union side emerged from the locker room after halftime ready to play with a touch more pep in their step, and they wasted no time. In the 47' David Accam fed Marco Fabian a perfect ball across the box, and the Mexico International put it away with his left foot, leaving almost every Cincinnati defender in his wake on the play. Philadelphia went up 1-0.
The goal seemed to enliven an FC Cincinnati side who'd barely had a chance to settle in to the second half, and they managed to hold possession, earning five corners over the next ten minutes. It was not to last, though. As the wind picked back up, and rain returned in earnest, battering Nippert's faithful, Philadelphia struck for a second time to put the match away.
The Union's David Accam brought a ball down from a header in the box by Mathieu Deplagne, juked Forrest Lasso who slipped down to the turf and toed it past Spencer Richey into the right corner of the goal as Deplagne came sliding in a fraction of a second too late to stop the goal. 2-0 Philadelphia, and the breath went out of Nippert. There would be no joy this night for the Orange & Blue.
The Philadelphia Union were the better team for most of the match; although ironically, FCC did play better in the second half in which they conceded both goals. They evened out possession, and strung together more passes in the middle third. There were just not enough clean shots, and as in the loss to Seattle, Cincinnati spent the better part of the game falling back and reacting to a more confident and quick Philadelphia attack.
Most of Philadelphia's possession was in FC Cincinnati's third of the field, while very little of Cincinnati's possession was in the Philadelphia third until too late in the game when the Union seemed to be content to sit back and wisely protect their advantage. The speedy, killer counters that brought Cincinnati so much success in three previous matches was out-paced and thwarted by a clearly more experienced, and slightly more energetic Union team, that was able to aggressively shut down FCC's fast break before it ever became a real threat.
There was a bright spot in the 76' when Frankie Amaya, FC Cincinnati's first pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, made his Cincinnati debut. His confident work with the ball at his feet and crisp accuracy in the midfield showed real promise for the 18-year-old, who is expected to feature in this Summer's U-20 World Cup in Poland.
In the end, it just wasn't Cincinnati's night. They showed a little more like a newer team learning lessons on the fly. Philadelphia's David Accam is playing inspired soccer right now with three goals and two assists in his last two games, and Marco Fabian is showing why he was the blockbuster signing of this MLS off-season.
It doesn’t get any easier next week, when Sporting Kansas City comes to town fresh off a historic 7-1 dismantling of the Montreal Impact. It will be FC Cincinnati’s fourth nationally-televised game of the season, broadcasting live on ESPN this Sunday, April 7 at 3:00 PM at Nippert Stadium (assuming it dries out by then).
In Cincinnati they say, "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute." FC Cincinnati fans knew this was going to be an up-and-down, tough-to-predict kind of season. We certainly ran into some bad weather. On the other hand, 26,000 diehards threw on their ponchos and braved the elements in a March that went out the way it came in: like a lion. Thoroughly drenched and chilled to the bone, FC Cincinnati fans still showed up for 90 minutes to cheer on their team. The Orange & Blue will need every bit of that unrelenting energy from a packed house next week to recover from this tough loss.
There are sunny days ahead and stormy nights to come, but rain or shine, it's still a great time to be a soccer fan in Cincinnati.
FC Cincinnati Starting Lineup (4-3-2-1):
Spencer Richey (G), Greg Garza (D), Forrest Lasso (D), Nick Hagglund (D), Mathieu Deplagne (D), Victor Ulloa (M), Leonardo Bertone (M), Roland Lamah (M), Allan Cruz (M), Kekuta Manneh (M), Darren Mattocks (F) Substitutes: Kenny Saief 59’, Caleb Stanko 71', Frankie Amaya 76’
Philadelphia Union Starting Lineup (4-4-2):
Andre Blake (G), Kai Wagner (D), Auston Trusty (D), Jack Elliott (D), Ray Gaddis (D), Brenden Aaronson (M), Haris Medunjanin (M), Alejandro Bedoya (M), Marco Fabian (M), David Accam (F), Fafa Picault (F) Substitutes: Cory Burke 66’, Jamiro Monteiro 71’, Warren Creavalle 90’
Philadelphia Union Goals:
Marco Fabian 47’
David Accam 58’