12:51 p.m. : Last Chance Effort and final whistle, Full Time
With the clock running down, Dado Valenzuela was taken down hard and earned a potential tying chance from dead on and just a step outside the box. Dado steps up, puts a great attempt on, but it deflects off the wall and the keeper does enough to grab it and play it back out for the whistle to blow.
FCC falls in the opener, 2-1. A quality effort though in a tale of two halves.
12:40 p.m. : A quick switch
Appears Paul Walters has come in for Evan Louro. There was no formal change so I missed when it happened as I typed. Cool to see the young home grown keeper get in. He recently went on a training stint with Boundesliga side Hoffenheim.
1:29 p.m. : Austin finishes 68'
An Austin player puts a strong strike on a bouncing ball that was deflected their way after a clearance attempt and makes the score 2-1 with the final 20 minutes looming. Came in on a cross that bounce across and Nico Benalcazar was there to make a play on the ball but the Austin attacker, who hit the ball bouncing about thigh high, down and to the far post. Potentially deflected by the angles I could see. Maybe was Drussi, hard to tell from my angle.
1:26 p.m. : Aghedo with the chase down 66'
It's been much of the same in terms of pressure and possession that FCC's second half group has been able to apply. Gerardo 'Dado"Valenzuela has been done well to keep the pressure forward and win back possession in the midfield but one Austin clearance was just too far and sprung a counter for the Verde.
London Aghedo though was able to run the length of the field to, at the last minute, step in front of the shot and direct it away. An impressive bit of work. Still in danger though as Austin is now set up in the FCC third.
1:14: Louro feels familiar 54'
Evan Louro was brought in as the sub in net for The Orange and Blue and instantly makes a difference, thwarting a chance before it became dangerous by rushing out and clearing a long Austin pass back to his midfielders.
If Louro performing well at Al Lang Stadium sounds familiar, that's because it is. The New Jersey native and Michigan alum won the 2020 USL Championship goalkeeper of the year with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, setting a record of 0.74 goals allowed per game that season while setting a then record of 14 clean sheets that season.
1:06 p.m. : Full Line Change, kickoff of second half
FC Cincinnati make a complete line change at the half and send out an entirely new set of 11 players. That's just the way it works in preseason, this is an opportunity to get everyone minutes, build fitness and give opportunities to impress.
With a complete new 11 it will make the analysis of the match outcomes more ambiguous, but will surely yield important data for the coaching staff moving forward.
The new 11 are as follows in alphabetical order:
- London Aghedo
- Marco Angulo
- Nico Benalcazar
- Bret Halsey
- Evan Louro
- Kenji Mboma Dem
- Quimi Ordoñez
- Sergio Santos
- Brian Schaefer
- Gerardo Valenzuela
Brian Schaefer and Kenji Mbomba Dem are both of FC Cincinnati's most recent draft picks in the 2024 MLS SuperDraft, while Nico Benalcazar is signed to play for FC Cincinnati 2.
12:51 p.m. Halftime
Halftime whistle is blown as FCC try to mount a counter attack. It's 1-1 going into the second half. They'll water the field, get a 5-10 minute break, and be out for the second half.
12:43 p.m. : Defense makes a stand 40'
Internet issues for this writer aside, FCC's defense stymied and frustrated the Austin attack following the 20th minute equalizing goal, not allowing another shot on target through that stretch to the 40th minute. The only potential danger game when Rigoni got free behind the line and put a shot past the diving Celentano, but the official on the stadium side had put his flag up for offside well in advance and the play was rendered moot. FCC's defensive line of Robinson, Keller and Murphy has looked in sync thus far, with Austin getting called offside 5 times in the first half.
12:24 p.m. : Boupendza brings it level! 20'
The combo of Luciano Acosta and Aaron Boupendza bring it level in short order. Lucho wins a ball just outside the Austin box and fakes a shot on net, then swings it across to Boupendza who takes a touch then puts a swing on it and blasts it past the keeper.
It was really busy in front of net but the space created and quick blast from Boupendza caught everyone standing still and finished with authority.
All tied after 20
12:20 p.m. : Austin strikes first - 16'
Austin gets on the board first as that breakout gets just enough to pop a chance over Roman Celentano and make it 1-0. It looked to be Rigoni who had the finish but the soft chip floated over bumped the inner post on the far side and rolled in. Unfortunate considering the pressure FCC was winning.
Still early, but FCC is looking dangerous. Doubt this one ends 1-0.
12:16 p.m. : Flurry of corners - 12'
FC Cincinnati opens by keeping the pressure on and winning four corner kicks and a dangerous free kick but the Orange and Blue continue to keep the pressure on.
FCC have won the early possession battle, but Austin has shown skill breaking out in transition. Still 0-0.
12 p.m. : Kickoff at the Diamond 1'
The Orange and Blue have taken the field! They will defend in front in front of the first base dugout at Al Lang Stadium while Austin will protect the side of the pitch that would more typically be designated as the left-center field gap. Lucho kicks it off and we are underway!
Austin, who is wearing their green striped tops and solid black bottoms, have not provided a lineup for me so I will do my best to align numbers with players when needed.
I use the baseball references aside as while Al Lang Stadium is the full-time home of the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the USL, it was the spring training home of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and maintains its baseball field appearance, dugouts and all!
11:30 a.m. : First Half Lineups features reigning MLS MVP
The lineups are in, FC Cincinnati will debut in preseason with a lineup that features not only the 2023 Landon Donovan MLS MVP, but also the key additions to the club that have came over in the offseason. All three of Corey Baird, Miles Robinson, and Kipp Keller will lace up for the first time in Orange and Blue.
Well, maybe just some blue... FCC will take the field in their grey training tops with dark blue shorts and socks.
Here is the XI that will start the first half:
- Luciano Acosta
- Corey Baird
- Aaron Boupendza
- Roman Celentano
- Isaiah Foster
- Kipp Keller
- Yuya Kubo
- Ian Murphy
- Obinna Nwobodo
- Alvas Powell
- Miles Robinson
Carter Chapley, staff writer here coming to you from Tampa Florida. With two weeks of preseason training under their belt, FC Cincinnati will open play with their first of four friendly matches before competitive play kicks off in February.
The Orange and Blue travel to Tampa Bay from their preseason homebase of Clearwater to take on Austin FC in a standard 90-minute match separated into two 45-minute halves.
Checkback here throughout the morning for lineups, weather updates and more before kickoff where I will be updating you on all the excitement and highlights.
Updates start at 9:30 a.m local time.