WESTFIELD, IN -- Playing in their first preseason match since returning from Florida, FC Cincinnati made an afternoon trip over to Indiana and came away with a 2-1 win over Indy Eleven.
The victory was the second of the preseason for Alan Koch's Orange & Blue, keeping the side undefeated in their preparations for the 2018 USL regular season.
Taking place at the luxurious indoor complex at the Grand Park Events Center, FCC's third match of the preseason was actually just the first for Indy after their late jump over to the USL from the NASL. As such, the match was broken into three thirty-minute periods -- something that fit well with Coach Alan Koch's plans to play one group for 60 minutes and a second for the remaining 30.
The opening group looked very comfortable from the start -- perhaps not surprising given some of the Eleven's players arrived in town within the last few days. Koch's men dictated much of the early possession and produced a few solid chances for their efforts. Defender Forrest Lasso went close on an early corner, forcing a fine fingertip save from Indy goalkeeper Jordan Farr. The keeper was forced to come off, however, after injuring his shoulder during the fall.
Indy weren't without chances of their own in the opening period, though. They twice forced FC Cincinnati starter Evan Newton into a pair of saves of his own, one of which a point-blank header.
Despite the open play, the opening period ended scoreless. But it wouldn't stay that way for long.
After trying to get on the end of an FCC corner in the 49', Lasso was brought down in the box by a mistimed challenge from an Eleven defender. The referee didn't hesitate with his decision, pointing directly to the spot.
Emmanuel Ledesma, who had been lively on the right flank, stepped up to take the penalty. A slight stutter on his approach put new Indy goalkeeper Fôn Williams on the ground, and he calmly slotted the spot kick home for his first of the preseason and first in FCC colors.
Both sides opted for nearly full-scale changes around that time, with the hosts making 10 changes at 45 minutes and Koch rolling out the rest of his side at the 60-minute mark.
The change in personnel was immediately impactful for the Elven, who earned a penalty of their own when Blake Smith brought down his man just minutes into the third and final period of the afternoon. New signing and long-time MLS veteran Soony Saad was the man called to the spot, and he tucked his away to level things at 1-1 on 64 minutes.
Cincinnati quickly settled, however. Both second shift wingers -- Daniel Haber on the left and Russell Cicerone out right -- found plenty of time and space to operate and threaten. And it was Haber that found the winner, after he got his head on the end of a Matt Bahner cross to head home and make it 2-1 in the 67th minute.
And while Indy did manage to grow in the closing minutes of the third period, they hardly troubled Richey Spencer's net for the remainder of the match.
The win over Indy Eleven was FC Cincinnati's first against the club's first team. Their only previous meeting was in the 2015 preseason when they split the spoils with a goal apiece. FCC does have a win over their developmental side in a real competition, though, beating their amateur NPSL side 2-1 in the Open Cup in 2015.
Both sides will meet again in the regular season on March 31st for Indy's 2018 home opener, their first at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Orange & Blue will be back in action next Tuesday when they make the trip across the Ohio River to face NCAA Division I opponents, Northern Kentucky University for a 7pm kickoff at NKU Soccer Stadium. Tickets are available now.
First Half Line Ups:
FCC: Barrett, Bone, Hoyte, Laing, Lasso, Ledesma (1G - 50'), McLaughlin, Newton (GK), Ryan, Walker, Welshman.
IND: Farr (GK), Ouimette, Rusin, Pasher, Venegas, Ring, Guerra, Speas, Steinberger, Starikov, Trialist # 1
Last Third Line Ups:
FCC: Albadawi, Bahner (1A), Barrett, Cicerone, De Wit, Haber (1G - 67'), Halfhill, König (YC), Richey (GK), Seymore, Smith
IND: Watson, Ferrier, Trialist 1, Ayoze, Amankona, Moses, Trialist 4, Trialist 5, Trialist 6