CINCINNATI – The New York Red Bulls II ended FC Cincinnati’s historic season and its hopes of winning a second piece of silverware this season as the visitors emerged with a 1-0 victory in the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs on Saturday at Nippert Stadium.
Amando Moreno scored the game’s only goal in the opening 15 minutes to hand Cincinnati its first loss in over five months, halting a record 24-game unbeaten run and ensuring that New York advanced to the Eastern Conference Final for the third straight year.
The visitors got off to the perfect start in the 12th minute as they hit Cincinnati with a clinical counterattack. Hassan Ndam initially cleared Emmanuel Ledesma’s free-kick delivery out of the New York penalty area and José Aguinaga helped the ball forward to Moreno, who collected it near the halfway line and dribbled at three Cincinnati defenders before firing a shot past FCC goalkeeper Spencer Richey from nearly 25 yards out.
Cincinnati’s defense failed to close down another Red Bulls II forward just six minutes later, as Jared Stroud was allowed the time and space to curl a left-footed effort from just outside the box that lacked the power and precision to trouble Richey.
The hosts struggled to create any quality chances of their own as they failed to register a shot on target in a cagey first half that saw FCC forward Fanendo Adi continually frustrated by the defensive work of Ndam and some of the decisions made by referee Timothy Ford, the latter of which earned him a 41st-minute yellow card for dissent.
New York started the second half on the front foot as Stroud tried a right-footed shot from 20 yards out that forced Richey to get down quickly to parry the ball to safety just four minutes after the break. Cincinnati finally recorded its first shot on target a minute later as Ledesma worked some space on the left wing and found Adi in the center of the penalty area, but his first-time effort was kept out by the outstretched leg of Red Bulls II goalkeeper Evan Louro.
Louro came up with another save a minute later to deny Nazmi Albadawi’s shot from a tight angle at his right-hand post as Cincinnati began to apply pressure to the visitors. Stroud nearly eased some of that pressure in the 67th minute as he tried to curl Andrew Tinari’s pass into the top-right corner with a first-time shot from the top of the penalty area, but the effort sailed just clear of Richey’s crossbar.
Just a minute later, Cincinnati came close with a pair of chances as midfielder Corben Bone rang a left-footed volley off the crossbar following a corner kick and Ledesma flashed a left-footed drive just wide of Louro’s left-hand post as the hosts desperately searched for an equalizer.
Forrest Lasso had the home side’s best chance to equalize in the late stages, but the defender headed Kenney Walker’s corner kick wide of the target two minutes from time as Cincinnati’s historic campaign ended in disappointment.
12’ – NY – Amando Moreno (José Aguinaga)
#CINvNY: Full Match and Opta Box Score
1. The No. 5 seed New York Red Bulls II continued their recent postseason success as the club advanced to the Eastern Conference Final for the third straight year, where it could match up against Louisville City FC for a third consecutive time. New York has now won nine of its 11 matches all-time in the USL Cup Playoffs and picked up its latest with a gritty effort on the road against the 2018 USL Regular Season champion.
2. At times during the regular season, New York needed its outstanding attack to simply outscore its opponents, but the Red Bulls II defense has improved drastically over its last seven contests and has yet to concede a goal this postseason. In the past seven games the Red Bulls II defense hasn’t allowed more than one goal, and has only conceded 30 shots on goal, an average of only 4.3 per game.
3. FC Cincinnati’s historic season came to a disappointing end on its home turf, as the side saw its USL-record unbeaten run snapped at 24 games with its first defeat since May 26. The club may take some comfort as it heads to Major League Soccer next season knowing that no team making the leap from the USL has raised the USL Cup in its final campaign in the league.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Amando Moreno, New York Red Bulls II – Moreno made a difference in 74 minutes of action, getting under the skin of some of his opponents with his high pressure, recording two shots on target and scoring the game-winning goal to send his side to the Eastern Conference Final.
Eastern Conference Final – New York Red Bulls II at Louisville City FC – Friday, Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m. ET, Slugger Field
FC Cincinnati – End of Season