FCC scores twice to earn a point, remain in first place in USL’s Eastern Conference

CINCINNATI – FC Cincinnati and Bethlehem Steel FC played to a 2-2 draw in front of 22,407 fans at Nippert Stadium on Wednesday night, with the teams combining for three goals in three minutes midway through the second half.

On the night, FC Cincinnati (8-3-3, 27 pts.) out-shot Bethlehem (5-5-4, 19 pt.) 26-5, including a 10-3 margin on target, as Steele FC played down a man for the final 38 minutes of the game.

Derrick Jones put the first tally on the scoreboard for either side when he put Bethlehem ahead in the 29th minute. Jones had his first attempt blocked by the FCC defense, but on the rebound, he shot through traffic to put Bethlehem up.

The Orange and Blue responded in the second half with goals from Nazmi Albadawi and Russell Cicerone two minutes apart in the 66th and 68th minutes, respectively, after Bethlehem’s Olivier Mbaizo was sent off for an incident with Albadawi. Left back Blake Smith set up both chances with crosses deep from the left flank, although Albadawi’s strike came off a rebound and was unassisted.

One minute after Cicerone’s go-ahead goal – a headed conversion off Smith’s lofted cross into the box – Bethlehem went the other way and recorded the equalizer when Fabian Herbers curled a shot around FCC goalkeeper Evan Newton and tucked his shot inside the far post to knot the game at 2-2.

This was the second draw between the teams this season. They also played to a 1-1 draw at Bethlehem on April 15.

FCC returns to the pitch Saturday, June 16, when they host Richmond Kickers at Nippert Stadium. First kick is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and the match will be televised on Star 64 (WSTR) and streamed on ESPN+. Tickets are available at fccincinnati.com/tickets or at 513-977-KICK (5425).

FC Cincinnati 2, Bethlehem Steel FC 2
Nippert Stadium | Cincinnati, OH
Wednesday, June 13, 2018


BST -- Derrick Jones (unassisted) 29’
FCC -- Nazmi Albadawi (unassisted) 66’
FCC -- Russell Cicerone (Blake Smith) 68’
BST -- Fabian Herbers (Michee Ngalina) 69’

FC Cincinnati: Evan Newton, Blake Smith, Dekel Keinan © (Forrest Lasso 36’), Sem De Wit, Matt Bahner, Nazmi Albadawi, Kenney Walker, Corben Bone, Russell Cicerone, Jimmy McLaughlin, Emery Welshman (Danni Konig 64’)

Bench: Mark Village, Daniel Haber, Michael Lahoud, Will Seymore, Justin Hoyte

STATS: Shots 26, Shots on target 10, Fouls conceded 6, Corner kicks 12, Offsides 1, Saves 1, Possession 59%

Bethlehem Steel FC: John McCarthy, Olivier Mbaizo, Matthew Mahoney, Brandon Aubrey, Matthew Real, Anthony Fontana (Drew Skundrich 61’), Derrick Jones, James Chambers ©, Santi Moar, Fabian Herbers (Benjamin Ofeimu 90’), Michee Ngalina (Chris Nanco 80’)

Bench: Mike Catalano, Jeremy Rafanello, Kristopher Shakes, Prosper Chiluya

STATS: Shots 10, Shots on target 3, Fouls conceded 14, Corner kicks 1, Offsides 0, Saves 8, Possession 41%

BST - Olivier Mbaizo (caution) 53’
BST -- Olivier Mbaizo (ejection) 52
BST -- Fabian Herbers (caution) 86’

Weather: 80 degrees, overcast
Attendance: 22,407


14’ | FCC Chance -- Russell Cicerone searched for his first goal of the season when Nazmi Albadawi set him up outside the box. Cicerone left-footed a shot on target from the right-corner of the box, but Steel FC keeper John McCarthy saved it at the net.
29’ | BST GOAL -- Santi Moar dribbled down the right flank and passed to Derrick Jones inside the box. Jones had a shot blocked, but conceded possession and managed to sneak a ball through the FCC defense and past keeper Evan Newton for the early one-goal advantage.
52’ | BST Ejection -- Olivier Mbaizo picked up a yellow card for a tackle on Jimmy McLaughlin near midfield in the 51st minute. One minute later, Mbaizo continued to jaw with FCC players as the referee noted the booking and was sent off for appearing to head-butt Albadawi
66’ | FCC GOAL -- Blake Smith crossed one into the box from the left side and with the ball out of reach for McCarthy, Bethlehem conceded. On the rebound of a blocked Danni Konig attempt, Albadawi controlled possession and right-footed a shot into bottom left corner for an equalizer.
68’ | FCC GOAL -- The Orange and Blue netted goals two minutes apart when Smith again crossed one into the box from the left side. Rising above his mark, Cicerone headed Smith’s pass into the left side of the goal to give FCC the lead
69’ | BST GOAL -- One minute later after Cincinnati went ahead, Michee Ngalina set up Fabian Herbers with a through ball downfield. From the left side, Herbers maintained control and from a tough angle, cured a shot around Evan Newton and inside the far post to knot the score.

Wednesday was FC Cincinnati’s annual Equality Night at Nippert Stadium, as the club celebrated the LGBTQ community and its friends, family and supporters.
With his goal in the 67th minute, Russell Cicerone became the ninth player to tally a goal for the Orange and Blue this season … he is also the club’s first new goal-scorer since Jimmy McLaughlin pushed his first goal of 2018 through the net on May 2 at Indy
Blake Smith recorded his third assist of the season during Wednesday’s match, and is now second on the team in assists behind Emmanuel Ledesma … he is the team’s leading scorer among the blue liners with one goal and three assists
Emmanuel Ledesma was forced to sit out Wednesday’s match due to a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation after picking up his fifth caution of the season on Saturday at North Carolina … he will be eligible to return on Saturday against Richmond

FC Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch:
“Interesting match tonight. Obviously, the better team in the first 45 minutes deserved to be a goal (ahead). If you offered us a point at that stage, we would have taken it. We got ourselves back into the game, I was very proud of how the guys played in the second 45 minutes. Then you get greedy, you want to get the three points … That was a very good Bethlehem team. Disappointed in the end that we only got a point.”

“That’s frustrating, you should never concede a goal straight after you scored. You’ve got to have the focus, and we always preach five-minute segments of the game. We should have managed that a lot better. It was too far away for me to see exactly what happened.”

“The nice thing now is we get the string of games here at home in the summer, where we’ll get into the rhythm of playing at home a lot. I think that’s a big thing. We’ve been in a rhythm of playing on the road because we’ve played more games on the road. Now, just by the way the schedule is, we’ll actually get the chance to play at home more … we’re excited to play all these games that are coming up at home.”

Midfielder Nazmi Albadawi:
“To be honest, someone crossed it in, I can’t remember who it was. A lot of deflections and it popped out to me. I was just thinking to get it on target … thankfully it went in.”

“(Bethlehem) is a good team and they played well in the first half. That being said, in the first half, I thought their goalkeeper had two or three really good saves ... We had opportunities in the first half as well, they just didn’t go our way for one reason or another. I thought we were better in the second half.”

Midfielder Russell Cicerone:
“Whenever we play here, we always expect to get three points. Definitely two (points) dropped.”

...on his first goal of the season:
“Yeah, I was a little bit fortunate, because the guy that was marking me on set pieces got red-carded. So, I found myself in a free area, Blake (Smith) put in a perfect ball and I was just making sure I got it on target.”