Photo courtesy of FC Cincinnati
CINCINNATI – FC Cincinnati continues to give its record-setting fan base some thrills during its inaugural USL season. In the 81st minute, Casey Townsend headed home the winning goal off of an Eric Stevenson cross to earn a 1-0 victory on Saturday in front of a USL-record crowd of 24,376 at Nippert Stadium. This marked the third time this season Cincinnati has established a new regular-season high in the league, previously drawing 23,375 for its 1-0 win against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on May 14. The win, combined with the Charlotte Independence's 1-0 loss to the Rochester Rhinos, clinched third place in the East for Cincinnati as it will host an opening-round game in the 2016 USL Cup Playoffs. Cincinnati improved to 15-6-8 (53 points) overall and 9-2-4 as it extended its unbeaten streak to four games (3-0-1). Orlando is still clinging to eighth place, but only by a thread as Wilmington Hammerheads FC drew 1-1 against the Harrisburg City Islanders on Saturday to now trail OCB by only one point in the East standings. Orlando is 8-13-8 (32 points) overall and 4-8-2 on the road. OCB has lost six consecutive road matches. In the first meeting between the two expansion sides, Cincinnati grabbed a 3-1 win at the Titan Soccer Complex in Melbourne, Fla.
81’ – CIN – Casey Townsend (Eric Stevenson)
Three Things That Mattered:
1. FC Cincinnati was certainly the far stronger side in the attack, as has been the case in most of its home matches this season. FCC eventually gained the upper hand in the 81st minute with Casey Townsend opening his scoring account. The buildup was a credit to Eric Stevenson who sent the ball in from the right side with his left, and the FCC sub headed it into the back of the net for the winning goal.
2. Michael Cox and OCB created some strong scoring chances in the opening minutes, and Cincinnati’s defense rose to the challenge. Harrison Delbridge made an important slide tackle to disrupt Cox in the 11th minute as the Orlando striker got into a dangerous spot toward the left side of the box for either a potential shot or cross. Then in the 17th minute, with Pierre Da Silva crossing from the left corner, Cincinnati couldn’t clear out of harm’s way and Cox volleyed from inside the six-yard area, only to have Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt dive quickly to his left for a massive save.
3. In the second half, Cincinnati thought it found its first goal off of a set piece chance in the 54th minute. Tyler Polak drove the corner in to the far left of the 18-yard box, and Harrison Delbridge headed it to toward Okoli who took a shot. The ball was deflected and then cleared off the line as Orlando was somehow able to come out unscathed. Orlando surely felt it missed out on one of the best opportunities of the game in the 71st minute when Cox did a great job of rising between a pair of Cincinnati defenders to head the ball over to Lewis Neal. From point-blank range, an unmarked Neal booted the chance just wide right.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Andrew Wiedeman, FC Cincinnati - Though he didn't find the score sheet, Wiedeman kept the ball rolling with several close chances, especially in the first half, and wound up with six shot attempts in all.
FC Cincinnati at Pittsburgh Riverhounds – Sept. 24, 7 p.m. ET, Highmark Stadium
Orlando City B at Bethlehem Steel FC – Sept. 25, 3 p.m. ET, Goodman Stadium