As has been the case with much of the young USL season, the story in the Queen City had as much to do with FC Cincinnati’s prowess at the gate as it did with its performance on the pitch. A USL record crowd of 23,375 fans were on hand to witness the FC Cincy’s 1-0 defeat of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. It was Cincinnati’s first clean sheet, but it was the fifth consecutive game that the boys in orange and blue have gone undefeated.
The lone goal of the game came in the 27th minute off the feet of Jimmy McLaughlin thanks to teamwork and tenacity. McLaughlin made a run through the top of the box, where the ball rested in the possession of Sean Okoli. Okoli rolled the ball right into McLaughlin’s path, but Pittsburgh goalkeeper Mauricio Vargas had come off his line to make a difficult save. McLaughlin followed his shot and buried the rebound inside the near post.
This was the second goal is as many games for McLaughlin, who scored the equalizer against the Harrisburg City Islanders last week.
One goal was all Cincinnati would need in the best overall defensive performance the club has delivered so far this season. Mitch Hildebrandt was solid, but he didn’t need to make national highlight reels to preserve the shutout. In fact, he was only required to make two saves on the day.
Cincinnati coach John Harkes was pleased with defensive effort put forth by everyone on the field, specifically mentioning the job that Okoli did dropping back to help in that aspect of the game.
Credit must be given to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, who are still seeking their first victory of the season. After all of the drama surrounding the incident that led to Romeo Parks dismissal from the team last week, the Riverhounds showed up and played with tenacity.
Vargas, in particular, was outstanding. The goalkeeper made eight saves in his USL debut, many of them were quite spectacular.
Next up for FC Cincinnati is a date with the NPSL version of the Indy Eleven in the third round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. That match will take place at Nippert Stadium on Wednesday night.