FC Cincinnati hosted New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night to begin a difficult run of games against the top teams in the USL Eastern Conference. The home side carried a lead into the final ten minutes of the game, but the Baby Bulls came charging back to take a 2-1 victory. With the win, New York increased the distance between themselves and third-place Cincinnati to seven points.
“The New York Red Bulls, you gotta give them credit. I talked about how well they played this season,” said FC Cincinnati head coach John Harkes. “They came to compete tonight.”
After witnessing the first half, it would have been hard to believe that Cincinnati would have been in a position to let this match slip away. New York utilized patience with the ball and aggressive pressure without it to assert its will for much of opening 45 minutes. Cincinnati could barely string together passes to build up an attack of its own. The home side was lucky to go into the intermission with zeros on the scoreboard.
Harkes said, “It was good to see that we weathered the storm in the first half. We made some adjustments.”
Those adjustments seemed to work as Cincinnati held more of the ball, while New York began to rely on long 50/50 balls over the top.
The Cincinnati goal came in the 61st minute off the foot of Jimmy McLaughlin. Sean Okoli carried the ball into the top of the box and fed Omar Cummings on the right. Cummings crossed the ball through the box to McLaughlin, who took a touch a curled his shot past the outstretched arms of Kyle Reynish and into the net.
“Good goal for Jimmy, opportunistic,” said Harkes. “He did extremely well to finish this one. That was a great strike.”
New York leveled the score in the 83rd minute on a free kick at the top of the box. Justin Bilyeu sent the ball to the left of the wall, and it looked to take a slight deflection before scooting in for the score.
FC Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt said, “I’m going to have to go back and look at the tape. There was a lot of commotion. I should never be scored on there.”
The foul that set up the equalizer was one of many called against Cincinnati in dangerous positions throughout the night.
“Unfortunately, the ref gave them another questionable, top of the box set piece, but we can’t put ourselves in those kinds of positions,” said FC Cincinnati captain Austin Berry.
There was nothing questionable about the game winner that New York scored in the 86th minute. Derrick Etienne Jr. sent a beautiful cross through the box to Florian Valot. Valot powered in the header.
There is little time to recover physically or emotionally, as USL East leading Louisville City return to Nippert Stadium on Saturday.
All photo credits belong to Joe Craven.
- With the loss, Cincinnati falls to 0-3-1 against the three other teams in the top four of the USL East.
- This was only the second home loss for Cincinnati, while New York remains undefeated on the road in 2016.
- The announced attendance was 16,127. This pushes the USL regular season total to 164,109 for FC Cincinnati at home, a USL record with five home dates remaining.
- Harrison Delbridge was held out of the starting eleven for the first time this season due to illness, but was forced into action in the 14th minute after Kenny Walker suffered an apparent foot injury.
- Ross Tomasseli was kept out the game day 18 with an injury but is expected back for Saturday against Louisville.