Photo courtesy of FC Cincinnati
CINCINNATI – The opportunity to clinch a spot in the 2016 USL Playoffs was there for the taking, but ultimately FC Cincinnati’s time will have to wait as it played to a 1-1 draw against the defending champion Rochester Rhinos on Wednesday in front of a crowd of 14,157 at Nippert Stadium. A Cincinnati win combined with a Wilmington Hammerheads FC draw or loss to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds would have lifted the expansion side into the postseason. Pittsburgh did its part with a 4-1 victory against Wilmington, but Cincinnati could not hang onto its one-goal advantage against Rochester. Defender Austin Berry tallied a 28th-minute goal for Cincinnati while Rochester responded with a Steevan Dos Santos score 13 minutes later. Wednesday’s game also marked the 13th consecutive match in which more than 10,000 tickets have been sold during Cincinnati’s first USL campaign. Cincinnati moves to 12-4-7 (43 points) overall and 7-2-4 at home, extending its unbeaten streak to five games (2-0-3). Rochester is now to 10-5-10 (40 points) overall and 2-3-7 on the road, in the midst of a four-game unbeaten streak (2-0-2). This was the second and final regular-season meeting between the two teams. Rochester won the first matchup 2-1 on July 6 at Rhinos Stadium.
28’ – CIN – Austin Berry (Tyler Polak)
41’ – ROC – Steevan Dos Santos (Bradley Kamdem)
Three Things That Mattered:
1. Cincinnati was playing without goal-scoring leader Sean Okoli (11 goals), who was serving a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation. With roughly a third of the club’s scoring power out of the lineup, Cincy fandom was obviously wondering who would step up in the moment, and the hometown boy defender Austin Berry rose to the occasion. The host side earned a corner kick on the left side in the 28th minute, which Corben Bone played short to Tyler Polak. Polak crossed in with his left and Berry from the edge of the six headed the ball back across toward the far left of the frame for his third tally of the season.
2. Rochester mustered nine shots in the first half, but only one on goal. The one that was on frame got through as Steevan Dos Santos’ left-footed strike in the 41st minute tied the score at 1-1. During that sequence, the Rhinos were playing up a man as Omar Cummings had suffered a knee injury a few minutes earlier. Bradley Kamdem showcased a nice individual effort to work the ball up down the left side, then crossed back above the box toward Dos Santos. Dos Santos’ shot snuck inside the left post as Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt didn’t even move. He now has six goals on the season.
Cincinnati saw one of its attacking pieces leave early as Cummings injured his right knee in the 37th minute. The ball was crossed in from the right and Cummings tried to toe-poke the cross. However, he missed the ball and his right foot hit the turf awkwardly as Rochester goalkeeper Tomas Gomez was running off the line. Replays appeared to show that it was Cummings’ awkward plant into the ground that caused the injury as Gomez approached. Eric Stevenson replaced Cummings before the halftime break, but just after Rochester had already tallied the game-tying score. A go-ahead goal for either side never occurred, though things got interesting during a hard-fought close for both sides, with Cincinnati’s Andrew Wiedeman heading the ball into the crossbar in the second minute of second-half stoppage time.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Austin Berry, FC Cincinnati - The Cincinnati native, who made an impression at the start of the season with a pair of early goals, stepped up into the attack Wednesday for a solid header to give his side a first-half advantage against Rochester.
FC Cincinnati at New York Red Bulls II – Aug. 28, 5:40 p.m. ET, Red Bull Arena
Rochester Rhinos at Wilmington Hammerheads FC – Aug. 27, 7 p.m. ET, Legion Stadium