CINCINNATI, OH --- Sean Okoli scored twice, including knocking in the game-winning penalty kick in stoppage time, to snap a two-match losing streak and lift FC Cincinnati to a 2-1 decision over Saint Louis FC Monday evening in front of 17,415 at Nippert Stadium.
FCC improves to 14-7-7 and climbs back into third in the Eastern Division standings with 46 points.
“We often talk about what is the “it” factor, said Head Coach John Harkes. “It comes down to the sacrifice and pushing each other on and the motivation. Overall the group effort is fantastic. We created so many chances today. It was a great response from the road trip. The group as a team never gave up on anything.”
FCC controlled the action for most of the match, out-shooting STLFC 16-6. The Orange and Blue had several chances to score and it was Okoli who finally broke through the scoreless tie in the 84th minute. Andrew Weideman, working in the box, headed the ball towards the goal and Okoli used his back heel to redirect the effort into the back of the net.
However, the Orange and Blue were stunned by a quick counter by STLFC, who equalized in the 86th minute. A long throw-in kicked off the play and Mitch Hildebrandt had to jump in a crowd to punch the ball away. However, the ball bounced to Patrick Doody, who knocked the rebound in on the first touch to knot the score.
The deciding goal came in the second minute of stoppage time. Alvaro Anton Ripoll, making his second league start, got on the end of a cross in the box. Ripoll headed the ball towards the goal and James Musa attempted to head the ball away but pushed the ball into his arm and was called for the handball. Okoli stepped up to take the kick and sent it into the lower corner for the game-winner, seconds before the final whistle blew.
“We are always striving to get a win every game,” said Okoli. “To be honest we’ve been very frustrated but positive. We just want to keep bringing those big moments to the game. We know how important these last games are and we want to win every single one.”
FCC had several chances in both the first and second periods with Okoli and Weideman combining for 10 of the team’s 16 shots.
FCC is 8-2-4 at Nippert Stadium and Harkes lauded the supporters following the game.
“The fan base actually pushed us on today,” commented Harkes. “It’s unlike anything else in the league. It doesn’t matter about the quantity but about the quality of the fans. It drives the guys. It is fantastic. It really is.”
The club travels to take on Wilmington Hammerheads Sun., (Sept. 11) for a 3:00 p.m. match.