Match Recap: FC Cincinnati 1 - Sporting Kansas City 1

Match Recap: FC Cincinnati 1 - Sporting Kansas City 1
Steve Haldeman

Sunday, April 7, 2019
Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

FC Cincinnati (2-2-1) vs. Sporting Kansas City (2-1-1)

Mixed feelings.

There's no better way to describe FC Cincinnati's 1-1 draw at home versus Sporting Kansas City this past Sunday than that.

Cincinnati fans were pensive going into the first of their next two matches. On the same weekend the Orange & Blue suffered a tough loss at home in a miserable monsoon, their next two opponents put up results to give any fanbase reason for pause.

Sporting Kansas City rolled over the Montreal Impact in historic fashion, 7-1 in a game that wasn't as close as the score would indicate. LAFC blanked a struggling San Jose team, while putting up 5 of their own; then a week later, LAFC dismantled previously unbeaten DC United--a team that had given up a total of 1 goal in its previous four matches--4-0.


Following those results, if you'd offered the FCC faithful a point out of either of the next two games against those opponents, they would probably have gladly taken it and walked away whistling.

Then, there were rumors about Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes resting most of his starters (which he did). The rain that was supposed to pour down on Nippert for the second straight week only lasted about a minute before the sun came back out. Finally, for most of the first half, FC Cincinnati looked as dangerous as they have all year.

Maestro Kenny Saief had his first chance 35 seconds in. Spencer Richey made a spectacular double-save in the 11'. By the time Roland Lamah drew a penalty in the 17' on a run into the box off a great ball over the top from Kendall Waston, points seemed inevitable.

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Darren Mattocks coolly stabbed the penalty shot into the right corner and FCC was up 1-0. Cincinnati's killer counter leading to an eighth goal by the eighth different player.

Fans went from cautiously optimistic to hopeful to downright confident. Nippert was working its magic on the Orange & Blue once again.

The mood on the field over the next several minutes was, Attack! Cincinnati pressed up the field getting multiple dangerous looks. Peter Vermes had seen enough. He went to his "bench" for an early sub, sending in starting defender Seth Sinovic to try to curb the flow following a knock on KC defender Rodney Wallace.

The shots kept coming, but something was missing: goals. Sporting Kansas City Keeper Adrián Zendejas made two important saves in the 29'. Four minutes later, Mattocks missed an opportunity by centimeters, a laser that ricocheted off the far post. That unfortunate theme would continue to play out over the next sixty minutes. It was by no means disheartening, but as each chance fell away, discomfort settled in.

By the end of the half, Cincinnati had 7 shots, including 4 shots on goal, but the only goal was on Mattocks' penalty kick.

Kekutah Manneh was subbed in at halftime for an injured Roland Lamah. (Losing Lamah for half a game put a damper on Cincinnati's attack; and with their core of creative players becoming more thin each week, there's cause for concern.)

In the 60' minute, the far post struck again and rejected Manneh's shot from point blank range in the middle of the box. The crowd rose in anticipation, the pressure built like a pot of coffee on the verge of boiling over, and then all at once, a massive groan as the ball spun harmlessly away from goal.

Two minutes later, disaster. The mood shifted drastically. Spencer Richey crept off his line. Kansas City’s 16-year-old midfielder Gianluca Busio was making a run on a brilliant cross-field switch pass from Kelyn Rowe. In a half-second moment of indecision, Richey and Garza inexplicably collided at the top of box. Busio skipped past them both and tapped a laugher into the vacant, wide open net to tie the game 1-1 in the 62'.

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You could see it coming, like a slow-motion slasher movie from the eighties. The teenage camper wanders away from the cabin in the middle of the night. Richey had made two different major league saves just minutes earlier to be fair. Without several such brilliant moments from Richey over the course of the past month, FC Cincinnati might not have half of those 8 points, but it was troubling to see such an epic mistake wipe the lead away in an instant.

At that point all the pensive tension leading up to the game returned. Alan Koch subbed in defensive midfielder Eric Alexander for Kenny Saief. Midfielder Caleb Stanko took the place of starting Forward Darren Mattocks, and it seemed as if FCC had decided to circle the wagons and play for a draw.

There were chances for both sides, but no more goals materialized. The draw that fans would have gladly taken when the week began suddenly felt incredibly disappointing. Same result, same point, but mixed feelings.

It seemed a little strange and unreasonable. FC Cincinnati's first draw away at Atlanta brought elation. It was completely unexpected. This was different. The Orange & Blue had shown a penchant for unexpected results, and the first half of this match seemed to be tilting in that direction, but it was not to be.

The way that soccer standings work--teams get 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, and 0 points for a loss--makes perfect sense in the context of the way fans feel about this match. A draw feels just barely better than a loss, maybe +1 better. Winning would easily have been 3 times better than the draw. Losing would have left a huge empty hole, but at least there's a finality to a loss that forces fans to move on. This draw, though, especially at home when victory was so close, when there was chance after chance to put the game away, was unsatisfying at best, disappointing at worst, and feels like it's going to linger like a touch of indigestion from too much coffee and a bad breakfast.

It remains to be seen what difference that one point will make over the course of a 34-game season, or if those dropped two points will make an even bigger difference. But, FC Cincinnati needs to put the result behind them, because next up is LAFC, a team that makes a classic slasher movie look like a 24-hour, Nick at Nite "Full House" marathon.

FC Cincinnati Starting Lineup (4-3-2-1):
Spencer Richey (G), Greg Garza (D), Kendall Waston (D), Nick Hagglund (D), Mathieu Deplagne (D), Victor Ulloa (M), Leonardo Bertone (M), Roland Lamah (M), Allan Cruz (M), Kenny Saief (M), Darren Mattocks (F) Substitutes: Kekuta Manneh 46’, Eric Alexander 77’, Caleb Stanko 82’

Sporting Kansas City Starting Lineup (4-3-3):
Adrián Zendejas (G), Nicolas Hasler (D), Botond Baráth (D), Andreu Fontas (D), Rodney Wallace (D), Gianluca Busio (M), Ilie Sanchez (M), Gedion Zelalem (M), Johnny Russell (F), Yohan Croizet (F), Kelyn Rowe (F) Substitutes: Seth Sinovic 27’, Felipe Gutierrez 56’, Krisztian Nemeth 70’

FC Cincinnati Goals:
Darren Mattocks 19’

 Sporting Kansas City Goals:

Gianluca Busio 62’

Steve Haldeman