FC Cincinnati 2, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC 1
CINCINNATI, OH – The Riverhounds SC took it to USL Eastern Conference leaders FC Cincinnati on the road in a hostile environment, but came up short, giving up a 1-0 lead by surrendering goals in the 80th and 88th minutes, to lose 2-1 before 25,735 fans at Nippert Stadium on Saturday.
In the waning moments of a tightly contested tied match between two of USL’s top teams, the Riverhounds SC made a costly mistake on a quick restart attempt which cost them a chance to pick up a road result.
In the 88th minute, after a foul call in favor of Pittsburgh at midfield, Ben Zemanski played a long ball through the middle but an apparent miscommunication led to a give-away. Seizing a counter chance with lots of space, FCC countered, and Zemanski’s former Portland Timbers teammate Fanendo Adi made some crafty moves — found room between defender Joe Greenspan and Zemanski, then beat Hounds keeper Mike Kirk for the game winner with a nice left footed shot that slotted just inside the right post.
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) September 2, 2018
Late in the match, Hounds coach Bob Lilley anticipated that something might give in the late moments.
“We had a couple of good moments. They had a couple of good moments. Look, we can’t call off the dogs,” Lilley said. “Once they tied it, they had a lot of attacking players on the field, they’re going to try to win it. We’re going to try to win it, but we got caught.”
It was a goal that Greenspan would love to have back.
“It’s the second game in the row, that I was on the wrong side of one I’d like to have back,” Greenspan said. “I am pretty pissed at myself. It sucks. We’re frustrated that we came away with just one point though we played well on this road trip.”
Romeo Parkes returned to the starting line-up, and found redemption with a goal in the 57th minute on a one-time shot from 12 yards that catapulted the Hounds into a 1-0 lead.
— Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (@RiverhoundsSC) September 2, 2018
The build-up that led to the goal came from a nice 1-2 between Kenardo Forbes and Thomas Vancaeyezeele on the left side. Forbes took the space and found Parkes in the box.
As the case in previous games, the Hounds couldn’t hold the lead.
Cincy battled back to even the match in the 80th minute off a beautifully played free kick from Emmanual Ledesma to the far post that Dekel Keinean headed home for the equalizer which caused the more than 25,000 fans to erupt in celebration.
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) September 2, 2018
“Sometimes you’re not going to win every header, but you have to get in position,” Lilley said in retrospect. “You’ve got to push your way in and give a bump, do whatever it takes.”
The Riverhounds started strong in the second half, creating a few golden chances that ended up as lost opportunities.
In the 47th minute, Forbes found Vancaeyezeele on the left side. The Frenchman took a few touches toward the end line then located Parkes in the box — only to see the Jamaican completely whiff on his shot attempt.
“I missed that first one, but glad I had a chance and another one,” Parkes said.
A minute later, Kay Banjo made a few nifty moves in the box, getting knocked down, earning a penalty kick opportunity.
Banjo apparently earned the chance to take the penalty, but blew that chance, sending his shot way over the bar and into stands.
As expected, both coaches came out with different tactical approaches.
While Cincinnati was effective in controlling possession in the middle of the field in a 4-2-3-1 formation emplored by its head coach Alan Koch, a lot of their effort in the early portion of the match were failed balls over the top.
The Hounds started out the match essentially in a 5-2-3 going with three center backs (Greenspan, Tobi Adewole, Hugh Roberts) with Jordan Dover and Vancaeyezeele as hybrid outside wingers.
Three attackers were Christiano Francois and Parkes, making his first start since being benched a month ago, underneath top forward Banjo. Forbes and Mouhamed Dabo stayed in the central midfield, with Forbes pushing up and to the right at times.
Parkes, tucking back quite a bit to help the Hounds organized shape, broke loose in the 22nd minute to unleash a shot from distance that barely cleared the bar.
“I was staying back a bit more in the first half, maybe a bit too much early on,” Parkes said. “It was nice to be back in the line-up. I did whatever I could do help the team.”
The Riverhounds were very effective in getting forward on counters in the first half, resulting in seven shots — three on frame. Cincy controlled midfield possession, but were mostly left to settle for direct balls forward and over the top.
The three center back and wingers dropping back stuffed out a lot of Cincy’s efforts to create chances from the width.
In the 25th minute, FCC finally sent a dangerous ball over the top to Emmanual Ledesma who beat Hounds keeper Kirk to the ball. Ledesma’s quick chip over Kirk was headed into goal, but Greenspan came flying in with a great effort to clear it off the line.
The Hounds had a few quality chances — with Banjo coming awfully close to netting the go-ahead goal in the 33rd minute when he turned and took a shot that Cincinnati keeper Spencer Richey had to drop down and make a kick save.
In three years, the Riverhounds SC have yet to beat FC Cincinnati, and in all competitions are 0-2-1 against the Blue and Orange this season.
They’ll get one more crack at them in early October, and they’re probably hoping for one after that too.
“I think what this week (2-2 tie at Indy Eleven and 2-1 loss at FCC) showed was that we can play with anyone, home or away,” Lilley added. “We’re not going to hang our heads on this one. We gave a good account of ourselves. It certainly isn’t a moral victory, but it’s nothing to concern ourselves with other than we play them once more in the regular season. There’s a good chance we may meet them somewhere down the road in the playoffs, and we don’t need to be afraid to play them.”
Riverhounds SC will return home to battle Bethlehem Steel FC (12-10-6) at 7 p.m. on Friday at Highmark Stadium. The Hounds won their first meeting, 2-1, in August at Goodman Stadium.
Riverhounds SC – Mike Kirk – Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Tobi Adewole, Joe Greenspan (Dennis Chin 90’), Hugh Roberts, Jordan Dover – Romeo Parkes (Ben Zemanski 78’), Mouhamed Dabo, Kenardo Forbes, Christiano François (Neco Brett 70’) – Kay Banjo
Subs not used: Nathan Ingham, Ben Fitzpatrick, Andrew Lubahn, Todd Pratzner
FC Cincinnati – Spencer Richey – Pa Konate (Michael Lahoud 66’), Forrest Lasso, Dekel Keinan, Justin Hoyte – Fatai Alashe (Jimmy McLaughlin 72’), Kenney Walker – Corben Bone, Nazmi Albadawi, Emmanuel Ledesma – Danni Konig (Fanendo Adi 75’)
Subs not used: Evan Newton, Sem de Wit, Tyler Gibson, Emery Welshman
PGH – Romeo Parkes 57’ (Kenardo Forbes)
CIN – Dekel Keinan 80’ (Emmanuel Ledesma)
CIN – Fanendo Adi 88’ (Kenney Walker)
CIN – Forrest Lasso 38’ (caution)
CIN – Fanendo Adi 88’ (caution