In the fifth match of a grueling 15-day stretch, Supporters’ Shield leading FC Cincinnati could not find the needed magic to secure one last comeback, falling for the first time at TQL Stadium 1-0 to Orlando City SC on Saturday night.
The visitors scored in the final moments of the first half then spent the entire second half on the defensive, stymieing the FCC offense and slowing down play to earn the victory.
“I think you saw the entire group that put everything into it and just didn't have the legs or that final minute quality,” head coach Pat Noonan said of the performance. “Credit to Orlando, they defended really well. They obviously did a good job of taking us out of our rhythm, which was something we talked about prior (to the match) but I can't fault the effort that these guys showed.”
It was just the fourth time all season FC Cincinnati (17-4-6, 57 pts.) had been kept off the score sheet, and the second time against Orlando after a nil-nil draw on March 4 in Florida.
With the loss, FC Cincinnati’s undefeated home record (12-1-1) comes to an end.
The Orange and Blue will not play again until September 16 when they travel to take on Philadelphia Union.
“These guys were pushing and pushing, and they got nothing left,” Noonan added. “It wasn't our night so we have to regroup and come up on the back end and be strong in preparation for Philly.”
Choppy tempo leads to visitors with the advantage
The first half of the match was eventful, but it was not until late that Orlando City SC was able to break the monotony and add to the scoresheet. In the 44th minute Facundo Torres received an unlikely centering pass he cashed from close range, making it a 1-0 game for the visitors.
Plagued by stoppages throughout the half, both clubs were left out of rhythm. Until the goal was scored, neither team was able to generate more than 0.4xG on the half.
“It's a tough game to manage,” Noonan said of the flow of the game. “You saw the antics that go into it and whether it's time wasting, whether it's fouls, whether it's off the ball stuff, it's tough for officials to manage that type of game.”
In all, the match was stopped four times in the first half to evaluate injuries with training staff entering the pitch, with two more events checked for potential VAR review, though neither time did the official go to the monitor.
“It's obviously frustrating,” striker Sergio Santos said. A goal of his was disallowed due to being offside and while VAR took an extended look at it, decided not to overturn the decision on field. “As a team, a moment like that it's kind of a blow.
“So we have to move forward, take it with a free mind and focus on moving forward.”
Needing only one more completed match to earn a good behavior incentive and reduce his current yellow card accumulation, Luciano Acosta was booked for a yellow card in the 44th minute for a bad foul. Had he made it through the match without being shown yellow, Acosta’s count would have been reduced to three, meaning he could receive two more cards before suspension.
The foul is his fifth in the count for a yellow card accumulation suspension, meaning he will be suspended for The Orange and Blue’s next fixture on September 16 at Philadelphia Union. Acosta had not yet been suspended for yellow card accumulation this season, and had received a good behavior incentive once already this year for going five matches without a card.
Mosquera, Boupendza make their return
At half time, FC Cincinnati defender Yerson Mosquera was subbed on for Ian Murphy. Mosquera had missed four matches for FC Cincinnati after picking up a knock in training during the break after being eliminated from Leagues Cup. The defender made a key play in the early parts of the half, tracking back nearly half a field's length to break up a scoring chance.
“I thought defensively Yerson had a couple of spectacular defensive plays,” Noonan said. “You can see the strengths come out in just not letting players get behind him or when they are behind him being able to recover.”
Eleven minutes later, Aaron Boupendza was brought in for Sergio Santos. Boupendza was not available for FCC in their midweek game match with Atlanta United FC after an injury in the match with NYCFC on August 26 left him questionable.