FC Cincinnati hosted Louisville City FC in the Orange and Blue’s 2018 USL regular season home opener at Nippert Stadium on Saturday evening. On a night where Cincinnati did nothing particularly terrible, nor particularly well, Louisville emerged with a 1-0 win.
“Disappointed to lose a derby, obviously. I don’t think anybody anywhere in this business would be happy to lose a derby and represent your team, your fans and the city. That’s not taking away from Louisville,” said FC Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch.
Louisville jumped out to a lead in the 13th minute. A City attacker carried the ball to the end line before sending pass back to the middle of the box. Cincinnati defended the pass, but was unable to clear. Louisville forward Cameron Lancaster ran onto the loose ball and drilled it by a helpless Cincinnati goalkeeper Evan Newton.
“We were completely stretched defensively. When you get stretched, it opens up loads of space for the opposition to play in. In the first 45 minutes, they possessed the ball way too easily because we got stretched and that’s something we definitely need to focus on,” said Koch.
In the 25th minute, Cincinnati forward Emmanuel Ledesma picked the ball up near the midfield stripe and streaked toward the box. Ledesma found midfielder Corben Bone cutting in from the left. Bone got a shot away, but it was deflected by Louisville keeper Greg Ranjitsingh and eventually cleared off the line by a City defender.
Cincinnati fired some shots toward Ranjitsingh in the second half, but Bone’s first half attempt would be as close as the home side would come to leveling the score.
It was a match in which the script was flipped from Cincinnati’s previous two games. Louisville snagged the early lead, then played compact to preserve the three points.
Cincinnati, playing in only its third match since turning over much of its roster in the offseason, looked a bit out of sync during stretches of the match. In contrast, 75% percent of Louisville’s roster was around for City’s run to the 2017 USL championship. The difference in cohesiveness was apparent.
“Based on the first 45 minutes, we have a long way to go (to install our system). Is that tonight nerves playing our first game here in front of our own fan base? Was it unfamiliarity playing in our stadium? Potentially. But I think we played a lot more the way we wanted to play in the second,” said Koch.
Cincinnati will have a week to grow together as a unit before travelling to face Bethlehem Steel FC on April 15.
- 25,667 fans packed Nippert Stadium for the rivalry game, breaking FC Cincinnati’s own USL record for attendance at a home opener.
- Cincinnati entered the night near the bottom of the USL Eastern conference with only 17 shots (5 on target) through its first two matches. While the Orange & Blue got off 16 shots against Louisville, only three of them were on frame.
- Left back Blake Smith has had better nights. Here is what one fan observed via Twitter:
Taking away his own teams passing lanes with bad runs, disjointed from Lang and let way to many guys get in behind him and play that bang-goo ball back to the pk mark (every keepers nightmare). Rough day— Fußball (@CincyGuy2009) April 8, 2018
- Lance Laing was disconsolate, almost to the point of being unable to speak, following the match. He remarked that the loss felt comparable to losing a cup final. Laing said, “They play exactly the way the coaches told us. We tried to defend the way they play and attack and find their weaknesses. They are a very good team; they earned my respect tonight. Credit to them, they made it hard for us.”
- Will Seymore, who started in midfield in place of an injurred Kenney Walker, was largely invisible before being subbed off in the second half.
- Jimmy McLaughlin made his first appearance for Cincinnati in 2018. The feisty winger is still a fan favorite, and he received loud ovations when he entered the match and upon making his first touch.