After months of preparations, FC Cincinnati finally took to the field on Saturday evening in Bradenton, Florida, to face a group of opposing professional players. And despite some adversity, the team even managed to provide a spark of drama for the fans back home to get excited about.
In the first game of the preseason IMG Suncoast Pro Classic, FC Cincinnati battled back from a two goal deficit to dramatically draw 2-2 with Iceland’s KR Reykjavic.
The first half of action looked like many preseason friendlies, with cautious play the norm and neither side making a real impression. The majority of the half was spent around midfield, with FCC and KR exchanging the occasional foray into the other’s defensive third. And unsurprisingly, both sides went to the locker rooms after 45 still knotted 0-0.
It was the Icelandic side, however, that took the initiative in the second half.
The opening quarter hour of the second period saw the black and white of KR increasingly controlling possession, and they were rewarded for their efforts in the 58th minute with the opening goal of the match. Óskar Örn Hauksson worked the ball down FCC’s left flank and served in a dangerous ball that was poked home by a late streaking Pálmi Rafn Pálmason.
The opening goal did seem to open the game up a bit, and the Blue and Orange did seem to pick up the pace in the aftermath.
Unfortunately, it was KR who were still next to capitalize.
In the 71st minute, KR’s Morton Beck pressured a passback to FCC goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt, and his efforts to evade that pressure were futile. He not only surrendered the ball under that pressure, but was also judged to have fouled Beck in the process — giving KR a chance to double the lead from the spot. Beck then stepped up to coolly slot home the penalty to make it 2-0.
This time though, FC Cincinnati didn’t wait long to respond.
Just five minutes later, substitute Luke Spencer was able to neatly twist and volley home a second chance effort after a good cross in from impressive youngster Omar Mohamed. And the halved deficit seemed to give the boys the just needed spark with just over a quarter hour to play.
The intensity quickly picked up from there. A pair of cards were dished out in both directions as both teams pressed on for a goal.
But it wasn’t until the 88th minute until the real fireworks went off. A poor clearance by KR fell right to the onrushing Corben Bone, and he unleashed a first time volley from roughly 45 yards that beat the Icelandic keeper to make it 2-2. Video of the strike can be seen below:
Back in Cincinnati, reactions could be heard all across town. Hundreds of fans who had turned up at pre-arranged meet ups at pubs in Covington, Over-the-Rhine, Clifton and Hyde Park for viewing parties celebrated jubilantly. And while many would have preferred a victory for the perfect story book ending, most agreed that a dramatic come-from-behind draw would happily suffice.
Be sure to stay tuned for further updates about FC Cincinnati’s second match at the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic on Wednesday, February 24th, at 5pm.