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USL Regular-Season Champions

By FCC Communications, 09/26/18, 10:15PM EDT

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FC Cincinnati clinches the first trophy in club history after Wednesday night's win at Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. – FC Cincinnati claimed its first trophy in club history on Wednesday night, using a 4-1 victory on the road against the Richmond Kickers to win the 2018 USL Regular-Season Championship with three games to play in the season.

FC Cincinnati (22-3-6, 72 pts.) took a 3-1 lead into halftime and then waited out an hour and 10 minute lightning delay before Emery Welshman added a fourth goal after the delay.

USL Most Valuable Player candidate Emmanuel Ledesma scored twice late in the first - including an Olimpico goal off his corner kick service - to send FCC into the dressing room ahead after Richmond (6-21-4, 22 pts.) equalized at 1-1 following Nazmi Albadawi’s game-opening goal 16 minutes in.

With the win, Cincinnati set a new USL record for both wins (22) and points (72) in a season.

Next up, FC Cincinnati returns home to face Indy Eleven on Saturday, Sept. 29. The match will be televised live on WSTR 64 and streamed live on ESPN+, while it will be carried on the radio by The Project 100.7 FM.

For up-to-the-minute information about FC Cincinnati, visit the team’s official website at fccincinnati.com, or follow the team on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @FCCincinnati. For more information about FC Cincinnati tickets, call 513-977-KICK (5425) or visit fccincinnati.com/tickets.

 

FC Cincinnati 4, Richmond Kickers 1

City Stadium | Richmond, Va,

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

 

SCORING SUMMARY:

CIN - Nazmi Albadawi (unassisted) 16’

RIC - Heviel Cordovés (Luis Fernando) 32’

CIN - Emmanuel Ledesma (unassisted) 40’

CIN - Emmanuel Ledesma (Nazmi Albadawi) 44’

CIN - Emery Welshman (unassisted) 63’

 

FC Cincinnati: Evan Newton, Justin Hoyte, Paddy Barrett, Forrest Lasso, Blake Smith, Kenney Walker, Fatai Alashe, Emmanuel Ledesma (Jimmy McLaughlin 75’), Nazmi Albadawi, Corben Bone (Pa Konate 90’+2’), Emery Welshman (Danni Konig 86’)

Bench: Spencer Richey, Dekel Keinan, Michael Lahoud, Fanendo Adi

STATS: Shots 19, Shots on goal 6, Fouls 17, Offsides 1, Corner kicks 11, Saves 1, Possession 54.4%

Richmond Kickers: Brandon Barnes, Brandon Eaton, Evan Lee, Conor Shanosky, Shaun Russell, Oscar Umar, Christopher Osei-Wusu (Fred Owusu Sekyere 53’), Raul Gonzalez (Greg Boehme 73’), Yudai Imura (Giuseppe Gentile 59’), Luiz Fernando, Heviel Cordovés

Bench: Trevor Spangenberg, Brian Shriver, Austin Yearwood, Prince Agyemang

STATS: Shots 12, Shots on goal 2, Fouls 13, Offsides 1, Corner kicks 4, Saves 2, Possession 45.6%

 

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY

RIC - Brandon Eaton (caution) 14’

CIN - Emmanuel Ledesma (caution) 45+3’

CIN - Fatai Alashe (caution) 45+4’

RIC - Luis Fernando (caution) 50’

RIC - Fred Owusu Sekyere (caution) 72’

RIC - Conor Shanosky (caution) 85’

 

Referee: Nickrod Fateh

Weather: 86 degrees and partly cloudy

Attendance: 1,519

 

Man of the Match: Emmanuel Ledesma

 

HOW IT HAPPENED

  • 16’ | FCC GOAL - Nazmi Albadawi played a ball downfield to Emery Welshman, who attempted to hold it up and turn near the edge of the Richmond penalty area. Kickers defender Conor Shanosky stripped Welshman, but played it back toward goal as Albadawi made a deep run from behind. Albadawi got to the ball and took a touch, slotting a curling shot around Richmond goalkeeper Brandon Barnes to stake Cincinnati to a 1-0 lead.
  • 18’ | Nazmi Albadawi claimed the ball in Cincinnati’s defensive third and played a through ball to Corben Bone into the 18-yard box. Bone took a right-footed shot, which struck the outside of the near post, sending the ball over the end line to give Richmond a goal kick.
  • 32’ | RIC GOAL - From just right of the center circle, Richmond midfielder Luis Fernando played a long lead pass to forward Heviel Cordovés, who timed a run to get behind the FC Cincinnati backline. Cordovés dribbled the ball into the box, took a few steps and calmly slotted a left-footed shot inside the far post.
  • 40’ | FCC GOAL - Emmanuel Ledesma stepped up to the corner flag placed a left-footed shot over an outstretched Barnes to record his 15th goal of the year.
  • 44’ | FCC GOAL - Kenney Walker chipped a ball into the box from approximately 30-yards out from the net to the head of a Richmond defender. Nazmi Albadawi gathered the loose ball and dribbled out to the right flank, before passing back to Ledesma approximately 25-yards from the net. Ledesma set the ball in place with one touch, stepped up to the ball, and fired a left-footed shot to the far post, past Barnes to record his second goal within five minutes.
  • 63’ | FCC GOAL - Emery Welshman intercepted a pass played by a Richmond defender in front of the FCC bench and turned and sprinted toward the Richmond goal with Albadawi to create a 2-on-2. On the dribble, Welshman split the defenders and sped past them to earn a 1-v-1 against Barnes before slotting the ball under him to extend the FCC lead.

 

GAME NOTES

  • With tonight’s win, FC Cincinnati claimed the 2018 USL Regular-Season Championship, the club’s first trophy in its three-year history
  • Tonight’s win also helped FCC set the USL team records for wins (22) and points (72), breaking the marks originally set by the 2016 New York Red Bulls II squad (21 wins and 69 points)
  • This victory also pushed the Orange and Blue’s undefeated streak to 20 games (16-0-4) … during this run, FCC is 9-0-2 at home and 7-0-2 on the road … FCC’s last loss came on May 26 - to Louisville City FC
  • Tonight’s win also extended Cincinnati’s winning streak to nine games, which has now matched the USL single-season winning streak mark of nine (Real Monarchs SLC, 2017)
  • This victory pushed FCC’s all-time record against Richmond to 3-0-3 all-time … this was Cincy’s first-ever win in Richmond, and the club is now 1-0-2 at City Stadium … FCC is 2-0-1 at Nippert Stadium
  • Tonight’s game marked the first time in club history that Cincinnati netted more than one goal on a road trip at Richmond … FCC had tallied only single goals in each of its first two visits to Richmond, earning 1-1 draws on Aug. 13, 2016 and May 6, 2017 … in its last two games at Nippert Stadium, FCC had out-scored the Kickers 6-0: 2-0 on July 8, 2017 and 4-0 on June 16, 2018
  • Nazmi Albadawi scored his 10th goal of the season, becoming the third FC Cincinnati to hit the 10-goal mark this season … FC Cincinnati is now the third team in USL history to have three double-digit goal-scorers in a single season, alongside LA Galaxy II (2018) and New York Red Bulls II (2017) … No USL team has ever had four double-digit goal-scorers in a single season
  • Albadawi also picked up his fourth assist of the year, setting up Emmanuel Ledesma’s second goal of the night
  • Emmanuel Ledesma netted his fourth brace of the season with his two-goal effort tonight - it was also his second brace against Richmond this season after netting two on June 16
  • Since August 1, Ledesma has scored seven goals and added five assists in the eight games in which he’s played … Ledesma is currently the only player in USL to rank in the top-five in goals (T-4) and assists (1).
  • Alan Koch made seven changes to the starting lineup that took the field on Saturday at Penn FC
  • Evan Newton returned to the starting XI for the first time since August 25 when he drew the starting nod at Tampa Bay in a 2-1 victory
  • After missing the last two games with a knee issue, Fatai Alashe returned to the lineup and started as a deeper-lying central midfielder
  • Additionally, Nazmi Albadawi, Paddy Barrett, Justin Hoyte, Kenney Walker and Emery Welshman also were out for the first whistle
  • In the last 13 games, the Orange and Blue have claimed 37 out of 39 points – most points in a 13-game stretch in club history – posting a 12-0-1 record in their last 13 USL matches
  • Tonight marked the 21st time in USL play this season that Cincinnati tallied at least two goals … in addition, it was the fifth time that the Orange and Blue recorded at least four goals, and the second time in FCC’s last three matches
  • The teams had to wait out a lightning delay that lasted approximately an hour and 10 minutes just into the second half

 

POSTGAME QUOTES

 

FCC Head Coach Alan Koch

On the significance of the Regular-Season Championship…

“It’s not about me, it’s about the club. I think our club has been building towards this for three years, this is obviously the epitome in our sport, to win a league championship. [This] is something that we all work for every single day. I think Jeff [Berding], the owners, myself and our entire club, we weren’t happy with how we finished in the league and we obviously set about rebuilding a team, and put a team in place that could achieve something amazing like we achieved tonight.”

On the postmatch celebration…

“It’s honestly absolutely nuts. It’s amazing to see the guys that you go to work with every single day -- players, staff, everybody -- just absolutely ecstatic. Everybody is going nuts. It’s the epitome of what we do every single day. We’ve all sacrificed so much to achieve this. We’re all incredibly proud of everybody, we’re excited to share this moment with some of our fans that were here tonight and we can’t wait to get back to Cincy.”

On winning the Regular-Season Championship on the current unbeaten streak…

“I think it just makes our final season in the USL absolutely historic. Our club doesn’t have a long history -- I think the Richmond fans were actually reminding us during the game tonight, there were passing comments about how we don’t have much history. For a club that’s so new and has only been in the USL for three years, for us to finish our final year in the USL and win the Regular-Season Championship is nothing short of remarkable. I’m incredibly proud of everybody associated with our club, and not just the people that our with us now, everybody who contributed during the course of the first three years.”

On if he feels like he’s proven anything to anyone or himself…

“No, to be honest, I don’t have anything to prove to myself and I don’t have anything to prove to anybody. It’s about our team, it’s about us all going out and working very, very hard for each other to set each other up for success. We wanted to achieve this. We achieved a lot on Saturday in Harrisburg by winning the Eastern Conference, and tonight we won the whole league. I don’t have to prove anything to anybody else, I’ve won in all the different places I’ve been personally, and I’m glad to win here. We still have a lot of work ahead of us with FCC.”

On how tonight’s win changes the rest of the season…

“Well, you could probably see some of the social media feeds, so there are probably going to be a few people -- players, staff -- that might not be feeling 100 percent healthy when they wake up tomorrow morning. So, we’re going to have to take stock of everybody tomorrow. We travel back tomorrow, we train on Friday, we’ll see who’s all good to go for the game on Saturday. We’ve got three games to fine tune things to get ourselves ready for the postseason. There are a lot of players on our team that have sacrificed a lot, [and have] worked incredibly hard to be part of this group. I’d like to reward everybody through the final few games. Our focus now is obviously this cup competition that is ahead of us. We’ve got three games to work on some things, but we’re going to enjoy this tonight first. ”

On if he’s going to be able to embrace winning this trophy…

“I’m going to touch it, I’m going to kiss that trophy when it gets presented to us on on Saturday night. This is the epitome in our sport. You work incredibly hard to try to win a league championship, and we did it tonight. It’s another step forward for us as a club in the entirety of our history, but also in this year, there are other things ahead of us. But, when we get that trophy at Nippert Stadium on Saturday night, it will be a very, very special moment for all of us.”

On if the process of determining players for next year’s team is already complete…

“No, because in this business, we’re all assessed every single day, and that’s what makes this business so difficult, so stressful, but it also makes it so beautiful. We’ll continue to assess the group, we’ll continue to assess ourselves on Saturday, we’ll continue to assess ourselves through the last few games and in the postseason. But, we’ll also internally continue to push this group, because we know we’ve got an amazing group. Obviously, I built this group with Jeff and the entire club and I’ll continue to push this group, because we’ve still got things that we want to achieve together.”

On if he expects Saturday’s match to have a carnival atmosphere…

“Saturday will be a 100 percent carnival. I’ve only been in Cincinnati for a few years, but I’ve heard the stories of the challenges our different sports teams have all had, and for us to receive a trophy on our own pitch on Saturday night, is going to be a very, very special night. I look forward to sharing that night, not only with FCC, but with the entire city of Cincinnati. It’s going to be a very, very fun night.”

On if he is surprised at how dominant his team has been in USL play…

“I’m very, very surprised, because the USL has gotten better every single year and this is the best the USL has ever been. Obviously with the NASL folding, there are so many top players that have joined the USL this year and every team has improved significantly. I’ve been in the USL for several years now, obviously in the West with Vancouver, but now in the East with Cincinnati. The league continues to improve and this is the highest level of the USL ever. So, for us to be this successful and this dominant, I’m very, very proud of all of our staff and all of our players for achieving what we have achieved so far this year.”

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