A record USL crowd at Nippert Stadium watches 3-2 loss.
In just the second home game for FC Cincinnati, Nippert Stadium played host to a USL regular season-record crowd of 20,497 as Louisville City FC grabbed a 3-2 decision in its first trip up the Ohio River to face FCC.
The record crowd bested Sacramento Republic FC’s mark of 20,231 and watched an entertaining first 45 minutes, which included four goals, a penalty kick and a disqualification. The teams played a scoreless second half into stoppage time before FC Cincinnati (2-2-0) converted off a corner kick to provide the final margin of 3-2.
“The crowd was absolutely incredible,” said head coach John Harkes. “The fans and the families that are here clearly shows that Cincinnati is easily ready for this market for soccer. The numbers that turned out tonight they make a huge difference and I hope they can sustain it.”
Chandler Hoffman led the LouCity (3-1-0) effort with a hat trick, while Austin Berry and Pat McMahon had scores for FCC.
“I was just telling the guys that there are going to be opportunities where there’s a loss and we are going to have to learn from it. I thought we battled. We showed great deal of character and I thought we responded well. We got the second goal and give them credit. They [Louisville City FC] fought really hard.
FCC struck early on the warm evening, just as it did in its inaugural home game a week ago. It was Berry again with a header in his second straight game as the defender connected on a free kick from Tyler Polak in the sixth minute. Polak, who was set-up just outside the 18 on the near side, 12 yards in from the endline, sent the over the toward to the far post and Berry headed it home from the top of the six.
Louisville equalized the match in the 15th minute, thanks to a converted penalty kick from Hoffman. The penalty came following a blocked Louisville shot that resulted in a handball.
Hoffman struck again in the 25th minute to put the visitors ahead for good. Kyle Smith played down the sideline before crossing it in front to Hoffman, who was waiting at the far post to head it into the back of the net.
Just 10 minutes later, it was Hoffman again for a 3-1 lead. This time Ben Newnam played the through ball to the far post, where Hoffman was again waiting to convert. Late in the first half, Louisville’s Sean Reynolds was sent off with his second yellow card, resulting in the visitors playing a man down for nearly 50 minutes.
Content to let FC Cincinnati possess while playing down, the second half saw the home side out-shoot Louisville City, 10-3, but FC Cincinnati was unable to find the back of the net until well into stoppage time. The best chance came in the 70th minute when a Sean Okoli header went off the crossbar before McMahon headed home a corner from Eric Stevenson. The full time whistle came less than a minute later.
FC Cincinnati returns to action on Sunday, April 24, at Toronto FC II for a 4:00 p.m. start.