CINCINNATI, OH --- After trading goals for either club in the first half of play, FC Cincinnati and Tampa Bay Rowdies would stand equal at a single point apiece as the match reached full time, 1-1, Wed. night at Nippert Stadium.
“These games are based on moments. In the context of 90 minutes, at the end of the night we’ll take the point and move forward from this,” said Head Coach Alan Koch. “I think having been in the situation we were in at Bethlehem, we knew what we were getting into and exactly what to do. I give credit to the players who executed the game plan. It is imperative in this league, with the teams getting better and better each year, to be ready as a team to play from the start.”
After not drawing on official red card in 2016, FCC saw their second as Kadeem Dacres was sent off in the 75th minute, leaving the Orange and Blue at a disadvantage for the final 15 minutes including stoppage time. However, FCC held fast in a physical match as the two teams combined for 31 fouls, including 17 in the second period.
Harrison Delbridge became the first FCC player aside from Djiby to score a goal, heading in a pass on a set piece from Kenny Walker in the 35th minute. A shift in momentum turned late in the first half in favor of FCC as the club found their offensive rhythm. Trailing by a goal after a long-distance strike from Marcel Schafer in the seventh minute, FCC found their equalizer by way of Delbridge, stemming from a corner kick by Walker. With a low line-driving kick, Walker’s entry went untouched and found the head of Delbridge, who placed the ball cleanly into the bottom right of the goal.
For Tampa Bay, Justin Chavez set up the opportunity by intercepting a clearance pass from the FCC defensive line, centered it to Schafer, who ripped a shot from thirty yards out and placed the ball just past the outstretched hand of FCC keeper Mitch Hildebrandt for his first goal.
Leading up to halftime, FCC poured on the attack with strong attempts by Jimmy McLaughlin, who in the 43rd minute, would split two Rowdies’ defenders, dribble past another, and strike the ball just inches wide of the far post of the goal.
“Jimmy (McLaughlin) brings a huge amount of energy and creative elements when taking plays on,” said Koch. “’If one player starts to have an impact, it can be infectious and tonight it went through the whole group on the field. He stepped up and addressed the situation, came out with a positive mindset, and they all showed they were capable of competing with such an experienced team.”
Both sides stymied one another’s offensive pushes early in the second half as scoring chances became hard to come by for either side. Though the attacking would open late in the half, so would the physicality of the match. Two cards would be administered for either side; Michael Nanchoff and Damion Lowe of Tampa Bay would each receive a yellow card in the 65th and 70th minutes respectively. Matt Bahner of FCC received a yellow card just before in the 58th minute while in the 75th minute Kadeem Dacres would be relieved of his duties as he was sent off with a red card for an unintentional kick to the abdomen of Tampa Bay’s Deshorn Brown.
Hildebrandt led the defensive stand against a late surge by the Tampa Bay offense. His efforts were highlighted in the 78th minute as he made a spectacular diving save on a shot by Tampa Bay’s Brown. The ball rebounded off Hildebrandt into the possession of Chavez, who fired off another shot that ricocheted off an FCC defender out of play.
The draw puts FCC at 2-2-1 for the season while Tampa Bay moves to 3-1-1. FCC will be back on the pitch this Sat., April 22nd at Nippert Stadium in a ‘Black Out’ match against Louisville City FC at 7:00 p.m.
Mitch Hildebrandt, Matt Bahner, Austin Berry, Harrison Delbridge, Tyler Polak, Jimmy McLaughlin, Kenney Walker, Corben Bone, Kadeem Dacres, Andrew Wiedeman, Djiby
Matt Pickens, Darnell king, Damion Lowe, Neill Collins, Luke Boden, Justin Chavez, Marcel Schafer, Darwin Jones, Michael Nanchoff, Leo Fernandez, Deshorn Brown
TBR: 7th Schafer (Chavez)
FCC: 35th Delbridge (Walker)