Club clinches number one seed in Eastern Conference, extends unbeaten streak to 19 matches
HARRISBURG, Pa. – FC Cincinnati secured the number one seed in the Eastern Conference in the upcoming USL Cup Playoffs after earning a come-from-behind, 2-1 win at Penn FC on Saturday night.
The victory extended FC Cincinnati’s (21-3-6, 69 pts.) winning streak to eight games and at the same time, tied the USL single-game wins and points records set by New York Red Bulls II in 2016.
Penn FC (9-13-8, 35 pts.) took a 1-0 lead into the half, but Emmanuel Ledesma scored his 14th goal of the season in the 68th minute to even it up. Corben Bone then netted the go-ahead goal in the 84th minute and FCC withstood a heavy Penn attack in the closing minutes to take the victory.
Now with 69 points, FC Cincinnati can claim its first USL regular-season title with a victory in its next game.
Next up, FC Cincinnati will remain on the road and travel to central Virginia to face the Richmond Kickers on Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. The match will be televised live on CW Cincinnati and streamed live on ESPN+.
For up-to-the-minute information about FC Cincinnati, visit the team’s official website at fccincinnati.com, or follow the team on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @FCCincinnati. For more information about FC Cincinnati tickets, call 513-977-KICK (5425) or visit fccincinnati.com/tickets.
FC Cincinnati 2, Penn FC 1
FNB Field | Harrisburg, Pa.
Saturday, September 22, 2018
PEN - Paulo Júnior (Harri Hawkins) 33’
CIN - Emmanuel Ledesma (unassisted) 68’
CIN - Corben Bone (unassisted) 84’
FC Cincinnati: Spencer Richey, Matt Bahner, Dekel Keinan, Forrest Lasso, Blake Smith, Tyler Gibson, Michael Lahoud (Kenney Walker 67’), Jimmy McLaughlin (Nazmi Albadawi 67’), Corben Bone, Emmanuel Ledesma, Danni Konig (Emery Welshman 61’)
Bench: Evan Newton, Russell Cicerone, Pa Konate, Paddy Barrett
STATS: Shots 12, Shots on goal 6, Fouls 10, Offsides 2, Corner kicks 7, Saves 3, Possession 49.8%
Penn FC: Sean Lewis, Tiago Calvano (Haruna Shaibu 82’), Harri Hawkins, Jake Bond, Kyle Venter, Dan Metzger, Calvin Rezende, Aaron Dennis, Richard Menjivar, Paulo Júnior, Isaac Osae (Lucky Mkosana 72’),
Bench: Salvatore Barone, Jacob Lissek, Miguel Jaime, Baffoe Prince, Walter Ramirez
STATS: Shots 19, Shots on goal 4, Fouls 11, Offsides 3, Corner kicks 7, Saves 5, Possession 50.2%
CIN - Danni Konig (caution) 7’
PEN - Thiago Calvano (caution) 7’
CIN - Emmanuel Ledesma (caution) 32’
PEN - Isaac Osae (caution) 45+1’
Referee: Thomas Snyder
Weather: 62 degrees and clear
Man of the Match: Corben Bone
HOW IT HAPPENED
- 20’ | After clearing an FCC free kick, Penn FC broke the other way on a counter. Paulo Junior got control of the ball near the left edge of the penalty area and launched a rising shot, but it kicked off a Cincinnati player just wide of Spencer Richey’s goal for a corner kick, which FCC cleared.
- 33’ | PENN FC GOAL - Emmanuel Ledesma drew a yellow card, setting up a Penn FC free kick in the right channel about 27 yards out. Richard Menjivar served the initial ball back across the area toward the far post, where Harri Hawkins headed it back over the defense toward near post. Paulo Junior extended and got a foot on the ball near the goal line, pushing it just under Richey as he came back across the goal.
- 42’ | Cincinnati drew a free kick 25 yards out just off the penalty arc and Emmanuel Ledesma stepped up. He curled his left-footed attempt toward the far post, but Penn’s Sean Lewis made a diving save to his right, just parrying the ball out wide for a clearance.
- 52’ | Paulo Junior got free down the left side and broke into the box, but Dekel Keinan tracked him all the way and used a slide tackle to deflect Junior’s shot and preventing the chance from in close
- 55’ | Penn played the ball inside off the touch line and once Aaron Dennis got ahold of it 23 yards out, he unleashed a knuckling right-footed shot that forced Richey into a diving save to his left.
- 59’ | After the teams traded quick possessions in the midfield, Corben Bone collected the ball and turned the play back toward the Penn end. Ledesma took control just outside the penalty area and got the ball on his left foot, curling in through traffic a shot that had eyes for the upper left corner. However, Lewis made the leaping save to prevent the Orange and Blue from getting on the board.
- 62’ | Isaac Osae got control deep in the FCC end after Dan Metzger blocked a Cincinnati clearance attempt, leading to a two-on-one against Richey. Osae’s shot, however, was just wide of Richey’s net on the quick shot.
- 68’ | CIN GOAL - After a pair of substitutes came on, the Orange and Blue broke out into a 4-on-2. Emery Welshman led the charge on the left, getting a shot off on Lewis. The goalkeeper made the stop, but the rebound popped directly to Ledesma who followed the play and potted the rebound to even the score.
- 84’ | CIN GOAL - Nazmi Albadawi forced a turnover in Penn FC’s defensive third, while Corben Bone gathered the ball at the top left corner of the 18-yard box. Bone fired a right-footed curled strike from the edge of the box to give FC Cincinnati its first lead of the night.
- 90’+1’ | Richard Menjivar curles a shot from inside the 18-yard box, but Forrest Lasso was able to get his head on the ball from the end line to prevent the ball from going into the back of the net.
- With the victory, FC Cincinnati claimed its first-ever number one seed in the East for the upcoming USL Cup Playoffs and - should they advance - home-field advantage in the USL Cup Playoffs through the Eastern Conference Final
- Today’s win pushed the Orange and Blue’s all-time record against Penn FC (formerly known as the Harrisburg City Islanders) to 4-0-2 … this victory was also FCC’s first-ever road win in Harrisburg, now 1-0-2 in away games against Penn FC
- Tonight’s win pushed FC Cincinnati’s undefeated run to 19 games (15-0-4) … FCC’s undefeated streak is the longest in the USL this season, topping the previous longest unbeaten mark – 16 matches – set by Reno FC 1868 (April 21 through July 11) … FC Cincinnati is now 9-0-2 at home and 6-0-2 on the road during the current streak … FCC’s last loss came on May 26 - to Louisville City FC
- FC Cincinnati extended its club-record winning streak to eight matches … The record for the USL’s longest single-season winning streak is nine matches, set by Real Monarchs SLC in 2017.
- Now with 21 victories, FC Cincinnati has tied the USL record for victories in a season (21), originally set by New York Red Bulls II in 2016 … that NYRB II team had a 21-3-6 record in the league’s 30-game season that year …
- Today’s win secured FC Cincinnati’s first-ever USL Eastern Conference Championship and - should they advance - home-field advantage in the USL Cup Playoffs through the Eastern Conference Final
- Emmanuel Ledesma netted his 14th goal of the season - to go with his USL-record 15 assists - with his 68th minute goal to equalize tonight … Earlier in the week, Ledesma connected with a deaf FCC fan from Philadelphia who sent him and Dekel Keinan a video message in sign language that was captioned … Ledesma promised he would dedicate a goal to him if he scored (after his strike he pointed to him) and also - along with Keinan - met with him after the game to give him an FCC jersey and scarf
- Tonight marked Tyler Gibson’s first start for the Orange and Blue as he stepped into the deep central midfield … he had previously made three substitute appearances since Aug. 4 when he made his first USL appearance of the year … Gibson suffered a broken leg and other leg injuries during preseason training that required surgery and a six-month recovery
- Matt Bahner made his first start since July 21 as he lined up at right back in place of Justin Hoyte, who had to return home to England to attend to a personal matter
- Corben Bone extended his best goal-scoring season in Cincinnati, recording his ninth goal - his third consecutive game-winning goal - of the campaign in the second half … Bone has now tallied in five of FC Cincinnati’s last seven matches and in each of the
- In the last 12 games, the Orange and Blue have claimed 34 out of 36 points – most points in a 12-game stretch in club history – posting an 11-0-1 record in their last 12 USL matches
- Tonight marked the 20th time in USL play this season that Cincinnati tallied at least two goals
FCC Head Coach Alan Koch
On if he will allow himself to celebrate after tonight’s win…
“I may go have a drink with the staff tonight. In this sport, you play in a league all season long and you don’t focus on the playoffs because the playoffs happen at the end of the season, you focus on trying to finish as high in your league table as you possibly can. Our goal was to finish at the top of the conference and win the regular-season in our conference and we did that tonight. I think it’s an amazing achievement. I’m very, very proud of the players, I’m proud of the team, I’m proud of the club, I’m proud of our fans that were here with us tonight and proud of our fans at home. I think in three years, we’ve been building towards achieving something, and I feel like tonight we achieved step one, there’s a lots of other steps that we want to achieve this season, but tonight was a very, very special night.”
On clinching the top seed in the Eastern Conference…
“It’s step one, there’s a lot of people going crazy in the change room right now - as they should be - I’m smiling, I’m happy, we’ve all worked our backsides off to get where we are, but we’re hungry for more. You can hear the players inside, they’re congratulating each other, but we’re getting ready for Wednesday, we want to win the regular season title for both conferences. We’re going to keep pushing each other. We’ll enjoy tonight, definitely, that’s for sure, because we’ve worked incredibly hard to get here. This has not been an easy ride for anybody associated with this club, all the way from ownership to management. Jeff and our staff, we all push each other a lot, because we want to achieve great things, and I think tonight was the first major thing that we’ve achieved in a short amount of time, historically as a club. It gives us a platform to hopefully continue to have a lot of success together.”
On if he has already heard congratulatory messages from people over the phone…
“There’s a lot, but I got back to a few family members, and I appreciate their support. I’ll hopefully get back to everybody all in due course. We’ll enjoy this tonight. We’ve got a trip obviously tomorrow and then prepare ourselves for the next one, because tonight was not easy. Coming and playing here against Penn, who had their backs against the wall, they gave everything they possibly could. The pitch is not an easy place to play on. To be quite frank, there are no easy games in this league. I don’t think it’s very realistic to think we’ll go anywhere and have an easy game, tonight was difficult. But, the guys just don’t push panic buttons. We’re calm, we’re even keeled and we’ll figure out ways to win, I think that’s why we were successful tonight.”
On the team finding a second win over the last 25-30 minutes of the match…
“I think we were very, very lucky. We say it all along, we’re not just 11 players, we’ve got a lot more than 11 players in our group, there are players that are not even here with us right now that could’ve played and started the game tonight, but the guys that came off the bench were a major catalyst. They had success individually, but they also set the other guys up to have success down the stretch. I think we’re fortunate to have the depth that we’ve created, but when we have players like we have on the bench, we have to make sure that we make the right decisions and go out and impact the game, but I think the players did a very, very good job tonight.”
On the performances of Matt Bahner and Tyler Gibson…
“I’m ecstatic for both of them. Obviously, Matt has gone through a lot to get himself back over the last few weeks, the last few months. Tyler has been working incredibly hard for months to get himself back. It’s impossible to expect both of them to come in tonight and be flawless and put in 100 percent performances, because they haven’t been playing week in and week out, but I’m excited for them to get out and play, and both get 90 minutes, but I’m also excited that they continue to kick on. We always say healthy competition is what is going to set us up for success, and the more guys that do well, the better it is for us as a group.”
FCC Midfielder Emmanuel Ledesma
On what it means to get the victory…
“It means a lot. It was a lot of hard work, and we never gave up. We fought till the end, and then we got three points. For us, it means a lot. For all the fans that came here, it’s far away, so we appreciate the effort of the fans, and we give this three points for them.”
On what gave the team confidence to come back after being down a goal…
“The teammates. I believe in all my teammates and from the beginning, I know that we got to win this game. Get an early goal and then we keep focusing on our job and then we keep believing in ourselves, and, I believe in my team. My team fights till the end, and that’s what we showed.”
On being able to celebrate with his teammates after the win…
“It’s amazing, because this is a long season. A lot of hard work. Sometimes you have the chance to play nice and keep the ball and show the quality, but sometimes you come here and you see the field and you battle against the other team and you have to win.”
On what he saw on his goal…
“When we tied today, when I scored, I believed that we were winning this game. We push a little bit more, we run a little bit more, we working hard a little bit more and we create more chances. Even the second goal, we create more chances. I’m so proud of this team and what they’re doing, every single player, I want to say thank you for all the teammates for giving me this enjoyable moment. This is a happy moment for me, for my family, for everything, so I want to say thank you very much for everyone.”
On the impact of the substitutes…
“I know all my teammates. Whether it’s the starting 11 or who stays on the bench, they have a lot of quality. So, I keep thinking about positives because when players come in, I know they give that extra of what we need in the game, and then we show this in the last 20 minutes. We showed more quality because we had fresher, amazing players come inside like Kenney, Nazmi, and then Emery, they gave a lot to the game and to us, to create more chances. Thank you for these three players who came in here and came inside and gave their life again.”
On dedicating his goal…
“I promised a special fan. He told me on Twitter he was coming and he wanted a signature on a picture - it was an amazing picture of me and Dekel - I said yes of course. I said if I score a goal, it’s for you and that’s why I pointed to him. I couldn’t go to him because it was a tie and we wanted to win the game, I got the ball and went to the middle, but this goal is just for him. We gave him a little gift, but I think the special gift today is the three points and the title.”