CHARLESTON, SC --- A penalty kick in the 70th minute by Charleston Battery proved to be the difference in a 2-1 decision as FC Cincinnati opened the United Soccer League schedule with a loss Sat., night at MUSC Health Stadium.
“Moments define games,” said Head Coach Alan Koch. “A few momentary lapses cost us dearly. Charleston are a good team and coming here is a tough place to play. But our expectations are to get points in every game we play, home or away. We will learn from this match and get ourselves ready for next week.”
Djiby, who led the club with four goals in the preseason, had the lone tally for the Orange and Blue in his regular-season debut. With FCC trailing following a first-half goal from Forrest Lasso, Djiby out-jumped defender Taylor Mueller to put away the cross from Andrew Wiedeman in the 59th minute, tying the score at a goal apiece.
The eventual winning goal was recorded in the 70th minute. Austin Berry tackled Romario Williams from behind to set up the penalty situation. Justin Portillo’s initial attempt on the penalty kick was saved by Mitch Hildebrandt but Portillo jumped on the rebound to give Charleston the lead.
Lasso put the Battery on the scoreboard in the 37th minute, capitalizing on a set piece. Following a blocked shot by Matt Bahner on Dante Marini to set up a corner kick, Lasso put himself on the end of the cross from Portillo for the goal.
The first half saw shifts in momentum with FCC emerging as the early aggressor. Pushing the ball into Charleston’s side of the field, Jimmy McLaughlin took a shot at the goal in the fourth minute from the left side that was knocked by down by Alex Tabakis. Four minutes later, Wiedeman was toppled to set up a free kick opportunity for Aodhan Quinn. However, the midfielder’s chance was volleyed away. Quinn had a chance again in the 19th minute on a set piece outside the 18-yard box but Tabakis was there to shove the ball away.
Charleston began to drive the action in the 25 minutes in as Ataullah Guerra had a chance that was punched out of bounds. The Battery nearly had a goal in the 35th minute on Mikael Chang’s clean look but Harrison Delbridge was in position to make the block on the shot.
In the 41st minute, Neveal Hackshaw ran between two FCC defenders to get on the end of a long pass but he flicked the ball into Hildebrandt’s arms and following a strong strike by Guerra in the 43rd minute and a Charleston corner one minute later, the half would end with a 1-0 Battery advantage.
FCC had four early opportunities in the second period but came up empty and the Battery responded furiously with a pair of shots. Hildebrandt was up to the task on the hard shot from Chang while Dante Marini sailed his chance over the crossbar.
Williams nearly had a breakaway in the 64th minute but a strong challenge by Delbridge denied the forward to set up a Battery corner. On the set piece, Lasso, looking for his second goal of the match, was able to get his head on the ball but flicked it high.
Delbridge, who provided late-game heroics against Sacramento Republic FC during the preseason, had the team’s best chance in the second half with the defender leaping to put away a cross but his shot went over the crossbar.
FCC (0-1-0) had the advantage in possession at 59.4 percent but managed five shots on goal to the Battery’s eight.
The team continues action next Sat., (Apr. 1) at Pittsburgh Riverhounds with the teams kicking off at 5:00 p.m.
Mitch Hildebrandt, Matt Bahner, Austin Berry, Harrison Delbridge, Tyler Polak, Aodhan Quinn, Kenney Walker, Andrew Weideman, Daryl Fordyce, Jimmy McLaughlin, Djiby
Alexandros Tabakis, Forrest Lasso, Mikey Ambrose, Taylor Mueller, Quinton Griffith, Justin Portillo, Maikel Chang, Dante Marini, Neveal Hackshaw, Ataullah Guerra, Romario Williams
38th: CHS - Forrest Lasso (Justin Portillo)
59th: FCC Djiby (Andrew Wiedeman)
71st: CHS – Justin Portillo (PK)