Photo courtesy of FC Cincinnati
CINCINNATI – Jimmy McLaughlin and FC Cincinnati capitalized on a second-half set piece opportunity en route to a 1-0 victory against fellow expansion side Bethlehem Steel FC on Saturday in front of a crowd of 17,380 at Nippert Stadium. McLaughlin’s tally in the 69th minute gave the host side its second straight win against the Steel, following up on its 2-1 victory on April 3 at Goodman Stadium. Cincinnati extended its unbeaten streak to 11 games (7-0-4). The host side improved to 9-2-4 (31 points) overall and 6-1-2 at home. Bethlehem, which is in the midst of a five-game road trip, dropped its first match during this stretch (1-1-2), moving to 4-5-6 (18 points) overall and 2-3-4 on the road this year.
69’ – CIN – Jimmy McLaughlin (Omar Cummings)
Three Things That Mattered:
1. With a jam-packed schedule of three games in an eight-day stretch, Cincinnati sub Omar Cummings could certainly see more minutes during this stretch. He was brought in Saturday in the 67th minute, and just a couple minutes later, he played a big role in the host side’s tally. Corben Bone took the corner kick from the left side and connected with Cummings who headed the ball toward the right post. Jimmy McLaughlin was standing near the post and flicked with his foot as Bethlehem’s defense still had a player on the end line to defend the corner kick. McLaughlin tallied his third goal of the season and Cummings notched his second assist of the campaign.
2. Both goalkeepers stepped up in the moment on Saturday in different fashions. For Cincinnati’s Mitch Hildebrandt, who has played in every minute for the expansion side, he came up with a couple superb stops against a Bethlehem side that challenged him early. Bethlehem’s aggressive start to the second half included a Cory Burke strike that Hildebrandt stopped at the near right post. As early as the fourth minute, Hildebrandt had to be alert as James Chambers’ curling shot was headed toward the inside of the right post and Hildebrandt dove to his left for the stop. Hildebrandt earned his fourth shutout of the season, all coming in the recent seven-game stretch.
3. For visiting Bethlehem goalkeeper Samir Badr, his game was mostly defined in the form of interceptions, even though he actually had more saves than Hildebrandt. Cincinnati was emboldened in attacking from the flanks, providing some dangerous crosses from the start. On multiple occasions, Badr read those crosses well and intercepted, including several times in front of Cincinnati’s leading scorer Sean Okoli. That isn’t to say Badr didn’t have his share of fine saves as well, against the likes of Andrew Wiedeman late in the first half when he tried to sneak a shot at the near right post and Corben Bone in the 62nd minute, diving to his right to secure. His seven-save effort, though, was not enough to prevent Cincinnati from finally capitalizing with McLaughlin’s tally in the 69th minute.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Jimmy McLaughlin, FC Cincinnati - The Cincinnati forward tallied the game's lone goal and led the side with three shots to help extend the team's unbeaten streak to 10 games.
FC Cincinnati at Rochester Rhinos – July 6, 7:05 p.m. ET, Rhinos Stadium
Bethlehem Steel FC at Toronto FC II – July 6, 7:30 p.m. ET, Ontario Soccer Centre