CINCINNATI – While it hasn’t been a regular feature of their season, lightning bolts seem to have been following FC Cincinnati around over the past month.
On Saturday night, though, the storms that hit Nippert Stadium ended up proving useful as a first-half delay allowed the hosts to shake off a sluggish start against the Harrisburg City Islanders to earn a 3-0 victory in front of 18,334 fans to take a third consecutive victory in league action for the first time in club history.
“It’s not fun to deal with rain delays as you tighten up physically, but it’s both teams too,” said FCC defender Austin Berry. “Neither team wants this situation but we had to recover well. Coach [Alan] Koch touched on it as the energy is important. We need to figure out tactical situations on the field, but we used the delays to our advantage to figure those out. We played much better through the periods.”
The City Islanders, who were 4-1-1 in their last six games going into Saturday’s game, went toe-to-toe with FCC over the opening 27 minutes of the contest, outshooting the hosts 3-1 and winning battles in midfield. After the first delay of the night, FCC came out refocused and quickly took the lead on Djiby Fall’s 11th goal of the season, setting the course for the rest of the game.
“I talked about quite a few tactical things after the first delay and how we needed to take much better care of the ball,” said FCC Head Coach Alan Koch. “We needed to possess the ball and play in their half as much as possible. We can give them all the information we want, but it doesn’t matter if they don’t respond with the type of energy needed to execute.”
Cincinnati held a 14-8 advantage in shots over the rest of the game, and added a second tally with 20 minutes to go. Fall was again involved, sliding a perfect pass to Danni König as the Dane held his run just long enough to stay onside before finishing past Brandon Miller.
Another delay hit the game with six minutes to go, and again FCC worked quickly after the teams returned to the field with Jimmy McLaughlin adding the finishing touch to the victory. Now up to fifth in the USL Eastern Conference, and only five points behind conference-leader the Charleston Battery, the second half of FCC’s season is setting up in very position fashion.
“Aside from the opening 27 minutes, it was some of the best [we’ve played],” said FCC midfielder Kenney Walker. “Scoring the goals the way we did, after two rain delays, this was one of the better responses to situations that we had. All together, we haven’t put together the perfect 90 minutes, but this was one of the better performances as a team.”