Third place in the USL Eastern Conference was on the line on Saturday night when the Richmond Kickers hosted FC Cincinnati at City Stadium. A second half goal by Sunny Jane looked to be enough to push the Kickers ahead of the visitors in the standings, but Andrew Weideman’s late equalizer maintained Cincinnati’s three-point cushion. The 1-1 draw repeated the scoreline from the previous contest between these teams back in June.
Cincinnati opened the match on the front foot, creating several opportunities in the opening minutes. Once the Kickers got settled, though, the momentum appeared to swing toward the home side, but Cincinnati’s defense maintained enough composure to keep the match scoreless through the first half.
FC Cincinnati head coach John Harkes said, “I think we at times didn’t take advantage of the opportunities when they presented themselves early on. I thought that we pressured them. We forced turnovers on them and little errors here and there, and we just didn’t capitalize. We didn’t execute.”
“They came out in a different formation that took us about 5 or 10 minutes to figure out. We’ve seen that with Rochester, so it didn’t take us to long to figure it out. We got ourselves back into the game. For the last 15 minutes of the first half we started to dominate,” said Richmond Kickers head coach Leigh Cowlishaw.
Indeed, Cincinnati went through a long stretch in the middle of the match during which its attack was completely ineffective. Meanwhile, Richmond demonstrated a greater willingness to open up its own attack than it did in the first meeting between these clubs in Cincinnati.
“It’s just playing at home, being a little bit fresher, new players and a new system to a certain extent,” Cowlishaw explained.
Richmond’s Sunny Jane opened the scoring in the 64th minute. Brian Ownby carried the ball down the left, got behind the Cincinnati defense and sent a chip toward goal. Mitch Hildebrandt got a mitt on the ball, but the rebound came to Jane, who had time to settle the ball, compose himself, and bury the strike from less than ten yards away.
“We concede one, but then we show character. We show character by what we’ve been doing all year, and we come back and we get it,” said Harkes.
Cincinnati’s equalizer came in the 81st minute when Andrew Weideman curled in a free kick from a few yards outside the box. Leading up to the set piece, Michael Callahan lost possession of the ball at midfield, hustled back to make up for his mistake, then executed a late challenge on Jimmy McLaughlin who was advancing toward the box with the ball.
“I knew Weideman had one in him, and I asked him to step up and take it, so I’m glad that he buried it in the bottom corner,” said Harkes.
“Really two bad errors on that free kick to give the ball away, to give a stupid free kick away. We’ve given them a point tonight when I thought we had it won,” said Cowlishaw.
Saturday night’s result was the final contest in the season series between Richmond and Cincinnati, with both contests ending in a draw. Cowlishaw appears to already have his sights set on a potential playoff date against Cincinnati.
“They’re a fantastic team, and hopefully we’ll play them again very soon,” said Cowlishaw.
More Notables and Quotables
The draw ended Richmond’s 6-game winning streak in USL, but did nothing to hamper Leigh Cowlishaw’s confidence in his squad:
“We’re a very good team. The record shows that. We have not lost to a team above us in the standings,” said Cowlishaw.
John Harkes disagrees with the assessment that his team struggled to create opportunities against Richmond:
” In the second half we guys that were a little bit fatigued. We had to make changes. When you make changes, it takes a little while for chemistry to get going. Creating opportunities, Ugo is in the box, Jimmy is in the box, Hoppenot that’s gone through in the box. We’re hitting shots and it’s hitting off of our own guys at times. So, for me, we were a bit unlucky tonight. I thought we could have had the three points,” said Harkes.
Kenny Walker returned to the pitch for FC Cincinnati against Richmond after suffering an injury a couple weeks ago.
Brian Ownby looked hungry for a goal against Cincinnati, and nearly sated his appetite several times.
Sean Okoli received a yellow card for grabbing and ripping Michael Callahan’s jersey. Okili will be suspended for the next FC Cincinnati match against the Rochester Rhinos.
Harkes was pleased with what he got out of his substitutes tonight:
He said, “When I make changes, I give the guys credit. The guys that came on the pitch, they battled, they did everything. We got good sacrifice within the group.”