CINCINNATI – Emmanuel Ledesma scored one goal and added a career-high three assists and Nazmi Albadawi netted two goals against his former – and hometown – club as FC Cincinnati earned a 4-1 victory over North Carolina FC on Saturday night at Nippert Stadium in front of 22,884 fans.
With the win, the Orange & Blue moved into sole possession of first place in the USL Eastern Conference, breaking a tie with Charleston after they tied Ottawa at home earlier today.
FC Cincinnati (6-2-2, 20 pts.) gained an early lead on Albadawi’s first of the game, a right-footed strike from 25 yards out in the 11th minute. Just before the interval, he netted his second of the game, this time going with a left-footed blast that doubled the FCC lead to 2-0 in the 45th minute. Both goals came off of set-ups by Emmanuel Ledesma, who entered the game tied for the USL lead in assists.
In the second half, Ledesma converted a penalty after he drew the call the 62nd, and then he set up Danni König for FCC’s fourth goal seven minutes later in the 69th minute.
North Carolina FC (2-4-2, 8 pts.) was limited in chances all night as the Orange & Blue’s defense collapsed around the attack consistently. NCFC was held to just 43.0 percent possession in the game and was pressured into just a 79.1 percent passing accuracy as they managed just one shot on target before Marios Lomis redirected in a corner kick service in the 86th minute.
FC Cincinnati returns to the field on Wednesday, May 23, when the team travels to Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC for a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup third-round match at the Riverhounds’ Highmark Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be streamed on ussoccer.com.
FCC comes back to Nippert Stadium on Saturday, May 26, when the Orange and Blue host arch rival Louisville City FC at 7:30 p.m., in the club’s Hometown Heroes Match. Tickets are still available at fccincinnati.com or by calling 513-977-KICK (5425).
FC Cincinnati vs. North Carolina FC
Saturday, May 19, 2018
Nippert Stadium | Cincinnati, Ohio
FCC – Nazmi Albadawi (Emmanuel Ledesma) 11’
FCC – Nazmi Albadawi (Emmanuel Ledesma) 45’
FCC – Emmanuel Ledesma (penalty) 62’
FCC – Danni König (Emmanuel Ledesma) 69’
NC – Marios Lomis (Kyle Bekker) 86’
FCC – Blake Smith (caution) 29’
NC – Kyle Bekker (caution) 65’
FCC – Danni König (caution) 75’
FC Cincinnati: Evan Newton, Blake Smith, Paddy Barrett, Dekel Keinen ©, Justin Hoyte, Richie Ryan (Michael Lahoud 82’), Kenney Walker, Corben Bone, Nazmi Albadawi, Emmanuel Ledesma (Emery Welshman 71’), Danni König (Jimmy McLaughlin 84’),
Bench: Spencer Richey, Sem De Wit, Matt Bahner, Russell Cicerone
STATS: Shots 17, Shots on Target 6, Fouls conceded 10, Corner kicks 4, Offsides 3, Saves 1, Possession 56.8%
North Carolina FC: Alex Tambakis, Peabo Doue, Michael Harrington, Futty Danso, D.J. Taylor, Austin de Luz © (Ulrich Ewolo 70), Marcel Kandziora, Graham Smith (Bernhard Luxbacher 84’), Kyle Bekker, Steven Miller, Daniel Rios (Marios Lomis 70’),
Bench: Austin Guerrero, Connor Tobin, Andre Fortune, Aaron Guillen
STATS: Shots 16, Shots on Target 2, Fouls conceded 10, Corner kicks 5, Offsides 0, Saves 2, Possession 43.2%
Referee: Victor Rivas
Weather: 78 degrees, clear
HOW IT HAPPENED
11’ – FCC GOAL | Working play down the left side, Emmanuel Ledesma threaded a pass through a defender to Nazmi Albadawi, playing him into space. The former North Carolina FC player took a step before lacing a right-footed, swerving shot into the upper 90 and past NCFC goalie Alex Tambakis to put FCC ahead early.
27’ – North Carolina had its first chance of the day when Steven Miller collected a layoff pass from Daniel Rios and tried to chip FCC goalkeeper Evan Newton, who’d come off his line to challenge Rios near the corner of the box. With the high shot on target, Paddy Barrett retreated to the line and headed it clear to keep NCFC off the board.
37’ – Corben Bone had a prime chance, cutting in between a pair of defenders at the top off the box and latching on to the Kenney Walker through ball, but his angled, right-footed shot was just wide back across the face of goal.
38’ – Albadawi had another chance from distance when FCC intercepted a goal kick at midfield. Richie Ryan played him ahead and Albadawi put a shot in on a laser, but it rose just high of the goal as Tambakis retreated.
45’ | FCC GOAL – North Carolina had possession deep in its own end, but FCC pressured the entry into the midfield when Ledesma got a foot on the ball and broke up a pass. He calmed the bouncing ball with a quick stab and pushed it ahead to Albadawi charging in on an angle. Albadawi took space in front and ripped a rising left-footed shot across the goal, past Tambakis’ out-stretched arm into the opposite upper 90 for his second of the game.
61’ – PENALTY: Ledesma pressured Tambakis in the box as a defender played the ball back to goalie and got a foot on the ball before Tambakis took him out near the end line, leading referee Victor Rivas to immediately point to the spot
62’ | FCC GOAL (PENALTY) – Ledesma stepped up and converted the penalty attempt, using the stutter-step to make Tambakis pick a direction before shooting low and hard to his right and finding space just inside the post.
69’ | FCC GOAL – Ledesma recorded his third assist of the night when he played Danni König into space outside the box. König powered past a defender and got a toe on the ball as the defender recovered, sending it past a charging Tambakis for another Cincy goal.
86’ | NC GOAL – After earning a corner kick, Marios Lomis got onto Kyle Bekker’s low service and flicked it on from outside the near post, finding space past Newton inside the far post.
Today marked the first-ever meeting between the clubs after North Carolina FC joined USL in the offseason from the NASL
FCC midfielder Nazmi Albadawi made his first USL appearance since April 28 after missing the last three league games with a rib injury
Albadawi netted the first brace of his career in USL play … prior to joining FC Cincinnati this offseason, Albadawi was a two-time NASL Best XI selection for his hometown club
Goalkeeper Even Newton also returned to USL action after missing the last four league games with a hip injury
Center back Forrest Lasso, who had played all 930 minutes of action this season – nine USL games and an overtime U.S. Open Cup contest – missed tonight’s game while serving a yellow-card accumulation suspension
Tonight marked the fourth-straight game he started that Emmanuel Ledesma recorded an assist … in the last five games, he has scored four goals and recorded six assists overall
Tonight marked the third time this season that Ledesma has recorded at least one goal and one assist in a contest … all of those efforts have come in the last four games overall and all have come in his last three starts … tonight also marked Ledesma’s first-career multiple-assist game in USL play
FC Cincinnati has scored at least three goals in three of its last four USL games, going 3-0-0 in those contests
With Ledesma’s successful penalty in the second half, FCC is now 2-for-2 in penalty attempts this season … Kenney Walker converted the team’s first attempt at Indy on May 2
FCC Head Coach Alan Koch:
“The guys played all night long, which was awesome. I think we played some of our best soccer we’ve played all season tonight, so it’s very, very impressive. It’s very rewarding for the guys to see everything we work on every single day. You don’t always get rewarded for it in this business, but it was nice to see them go out and take care of business. It’s also very, very nice to see Naz(mi Albadawi) score some great goals against his old team. I think the part that still eating away a little bit at us is still conceding that goal. We’ll deal with that but we’re very, very happy with how the guys played tonight.”
“It’s fun to win obviously. A very, very good performance. I think we imposed ourselves on the game and on the opposition very, very well right from the start. The hard is part, the coaches all just joked its eating away at us that we conceded a goal. We wanted to get the clean sheet. Obviously, we played against a very, very good North Carolina team and played the way we did tonight and get a very, very positive result and we’re very, very happy.”
“We’re getting better every single week. We’re working incredibly hard every day to maximize everything out of every single player and maximize the group. The guys have been doing that since day one in preseason. They’re all working very, very hard for each other and that’s the only way you’re going to be successful in this business. The group is definitely getting better every single week and we almost expect the group to get better every single week. Having said that, this business is a roller coaster and you can come out to play fantastic soccer like we did tonight and still lose the game. You have to take your hats off to the gusy for going out and executing, but also creating a lot of opportunities in the game tonight.”
FCC Midfielder Nazmi Albadawi
“It’s a special feeling to score, especially against my former team. That club means the world to me, to be honest. I wish them nothing but the best, unless we’re playing against them. If we’re playing against them, or if it affects us, then obviously I want us to pull it out. I want my club – FC Cincinnati – to win. But they’re still close to my heart and moving forward I wish them good luck, but I’m glad I was able to help us beat them today.”
“The second goal, overall, I thought was really good team pressure. It started with a ball into the midfield and I pressed a guy and he laid it off, and Manu (Ledesma) was in a good spot to press the center back. Manu was able to block the delivery and then play me in. I shot it with my left and sometimes they go in. So I was happy with that.”
“The good thing for us is that I think we’re still only going to get better. Like we said, it’s a brand-new team. We’ve had guys out; I’ve been out with an injury for a while, so it was nice for me to get back in and play with those guys again. We’re starting to learn how each other play and as we continue to do that, we’re only going to get better and better. Today was a step in the right direction, so hopefully we can keep that going.”
FCC Defender Paddy Barrett
“It’s been good. Obviously, I’ve been playing and we’ve been getting positive results and we’ve won the last couple of games and have been getting results, so it’s been good for me personally. But obviously as a defender you’re disappointed to concede goals and we conceded the other night and obviously we conceded tonight, as well. In the end we got the win Wednesday night and we got the win tonight, so we have to take the win and be happy with it.”
“As defenders, you’re weary of other teams’ counter attacks but we work on it … in training every day and obviously we keep a full back and a center mid holding for us to have a lot of cover for us. But obviously we let the boys up top go and express themselves and we just need to be dominant when teams do counter attack. And obviously we need to have more back than they have attacking.”
“Tonight, I think was one of our best. For me personally, having not been playing much, but for me playing tonight, it was one of our best performances of the year. We dominated from start to finish, which I don’t think we’ve been doing that in recent games. I think there’s stints in the games when we dominated, but tonight we dominated for the full 90minutes and got the result we deserved.”