The home opener is too early for a must-win game, but heading into Saturday night’s match against Saint Louis FC it felt like FC Cincinnati needed all three points. On the strength of a brace in each half by Djiby Fall, the home side was able to get what they needed.
“It was awesome. Congratulations to Djiby on scoring the four goals, and congratulations to the whole team. I think Djiby will be the first one to say this, the service to him tonight was very, very good,” said FC Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch.
It took a while for the goal scoring extravaganza to get started. The momentum ebbed back and forth for much of the first half. Each team exchanged periods of possession, while neither club appeared extremely dangerous. Then the curtain went up on the Djiby Fall show.
35′: A Saint Louis mistake led to the first goal for Cincinnati. A misplayed ball out of the Saint Louis back line wasintercepted. A quick pass found Bahner making a run down the right flank. Bahner provided and excellent service into the box. Djiby headed it inside the near post.
45+’: Djiby doubled the lead in added time at the end of the first half. During a scramble in the box following a set piece, Delbridge slipped the ball to Djiby. The Senegalese striker did not miss from point blank range.
48′: A well-placed through ball from Kenney Walker sent Corben Bone off to the races. As Bone approached the right of the frame, he sent a square ball across the box to Djiby, who tapped in his third goal of the night on an open net.
62′: Djiby reared his head again, much to the chagrin of Saint Louis fans. Kadeem Dacres carried the ball toward the middle of the pitch before playing to Kenney Walker in space. A perfect cross by Walker found Djiby’s head, and that was all she wrote.
Djiby said, “I’m very happy, but I want to congratulate my teammates. Without them I cannot score four goals.”
Koch was pleased with his team’s ability take care of the ball in intense situations, but he was effusive over the defensive effort put in by Cincinnati tonight. He acknowledged the back line and the effort put in by Victor Mansaray and Kadeem Dacres to cover miles of ground on the flanks.
The 4-0 drubbing came at the expense of the top team in the league. If anyone associated with the team needed a confidence booster early in the season, it happened tonight.
“As a coach, I don’t get too high with the highs or too low with the lows. I think some people, when we played our first three games on the road, were a little concerned in terms of how we were doing. It’s not easy to go play on the road in this league as tonight’s game showed,” said Koch. “It was a good performance by our group, a good performance by our fans, and it also gives us something to build upon for our next two games at home.”
It doesn’t get any easier for FC Cincinnati, who must face the other top two teams in the Eastern Conference, Louisville City and Tampa Bay Rowdies, in the next week.
Other News and Notes
- Djiby’s is the first hat trick in the short history of FC Cincinnati, and his four goals are one shy of the USL single-game record.
- Djiby has now scored 6 goals on the season; 4 with his head and 2 with his feet.
- First start for Victor Mansaray, who replaced Jimmy McLaughlin on the left wing in the starting XI.
- First half consisted of a lot of long balls and speculative passes by Cincinnati, but the ball control and passing improved in the second half.
- In an interesting move, Saint Louis Head Coach Preki used all three of his substitutions at once after Cincinnati’s third goal.
- 23,144 in attendance at Nippert on Saturday, a USL record for a home opener.
- Tonight’s match completed a dream homecoming for Matt Bahner. The Cincinnati native threw out the first pitch at a Red’s game on Friday, then assisted on the first goal and helped FC Cincinnati to a clean sheet on Saturday.