CHARLESTON, S.C. – New year, new look, new results, as FC Cincinnati earned its first-ever win – a 1-0 result – against the Charleston Battery at MUSC Health Stadium on Saturday. Blake Smith scored the game-winning goal in the 18th minute of the match, but goalkeeper Evan Newton and the new-look back line also impressed, thwarting numerous opportunities throughout the match. In the 39th minute, Ian Svantesson nearly equalized for Charleston, but his attempt from nearly eight yards out was deflected wide. Kotaro Higashi had the best opportunity to pencil his name in on the Battery score sheet one minute later, but his right-footed volley from inside the box was pushed wide at the last second by Newton. In the second half, the Battery dominated; however, the Cincinnati defense was up to the task. Newton made another incredible point-blank save in the 66th minute, denying Svantesson’s header following a precise free kick from the right wing by Nico Rittmeyer. With the win, Cincinnati improves to 1-0-0 on the season, while the Battery move to 0-1-0.
18’ – CIN – Blake Smith
Three Things That Matter:
- 1. Many of Cincinnati’s many new additions showed well on the road, but Lance Laing, Emery Welshman and Evan Newton shined the brightest. Welshman was a menace for Cincinnati all evening and played a pivotal role in the buildup to Smith’s game-winning tally in the first half. His run in behind the back line forced Charleston goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper to come off his line to deny the opportunity, but Smith was in the right place at the right time to collect the rebound and finish the chance. Meanwhile, Laing’s pace caused some problems for the Battery down the left wing in the first half, and Newton made two major saves for the side to earn his first shutout of the season.
- 2. The Battery’s unbeaten run against FC Cincinnati came to an end on Saturday, but many positives can be taken away from the performance for the home side. Kotaro Higashi, Ian Svantesson and Nico Rittmeyer showed signs of promise. In particular, Higashi and Rittmeyer were calm and composed with the ball at their feet, combining well with their teammates up and down the field. The home side also dominated the second half, giving Cincinnati almost no opportunities to add to the score line. That turnaround should give fans hope ahead of its second home match of the season on March 24.
- 3. Starting the new season off with a win, especially against a team it had never beaten in five previous attempts, sends a strong message to the rest of the Eastern Conference that the new-look Cincinnati side should be seen as one of the favorites to finish on top by season’s end. However, while the talent on the 2018 roster is clear, the team struggled to hold possession in the second half. Danni Konig’s substitution for Laing in the 68th minute helped, but Head Coach Alan Koch will be looking for better control of the ball in the weeks to come.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Dekel Keinan, FC Cincinnati – The captain was a stalwart in defense, making an incredible 11 clearances, as well as one interception and one tackle, to help Cincinnati secure its first shutout of the regular season.