CINCINNATI – Jimmy McLaughlin directed an Omar Cummings pass into the net as FC Cincinnati shut out Bethlehem Steel FC 1-0 Saturday night in front of 17,380 at Nippert Stadium to increase the team’s unbeaten streak to 11 games.
FCC, who climbed to 9-2-4 in league contests, posted a 7-2 advantage in corner kicks and out-shot Steel FC 14-10.
“I thought there were opportunities where we could have had one or two [goals] in the first, but overall we are happy with getting the three points,” said head coach John Harkes. “We’re just going to continue to push ourselves and push to get to the top of the table.”
McLaughlin’s goal came in the 69th minute off a corner kick with Corben Bone making the initial service into the box. Bone’s serve tailed in and Cummings flicked the ball towards the goal to a waiting McLaughlin, who tallied his fourth goal of the year. It was McLaughlin’s first goal since scoring in three straight games, ending the run with the game-winner against U.S. Open Cup opponent, Indy Eleven on May 18. It is also the third time this year that McLaughlin has notched the game-winning goal, pulling him even with Sean Okoli.
“Anytime you play against a former team you’d like to make a good impression but that being said, I go into it as if it were any other game,” said McLaughlin. “It is nice to get a goal against your former team. It’s fun to go up against guys you know and enjoy the friendly competition.”
Early in the game FCC worked quickly into Steel FC territory and Andrew Weideman would be tripped up just outside the box. Kenney Walker jumped on an attempted clearance by Steel FC and took a shot from 30 yards out but sent it directly to goalie Samir Badr.
In the 13th minute, Tyler Polack sent in a dangerous cross and Okoli, who made a slashing dive towards the ball, managed to get a touch but sent it just wide of the net.
Bethlehem Steel FC’s Cory Burke was spilled outside of the box after a tackle by Harrison Delbridge in the 20th minute, giving the visitors an opportunity with a direct kick but Ryan Richter’s shot went up and over the crossbar.
Wiedeman took a chance in the 36th minute, sending a left-footed shot towards the near post but Badr made a diving save and Steel FC would clear away the ball on the ensuing corner kick.
Burke found himself in a one-on-one match-up against Hildebrandt after Steel FC managed to force a turnover at midfield but Burke’s attempt went straight to Hildebrandt.
FCC continued to pressure Bethlehem and Badr was forced to make a diving stop after Bone carried the ball to the top of the box and managed a shot.
In the 76th minute, Steel FC worked to get a corner kick but a crowd of Orange and Blue neutralized the attempt and would quickly turn it into an offensive opportunity. Cummings received a long past and took the ball down field and looked to connect but his cross was intercepted in the box.
FCC earned consecutive corner kicks in the 80th minute and Kenney Walker and Paul Nicholson had chances to increase the lead for the team. Walker sent a rocket towards Badr, who directed the ball over the goal. On the following Nicholson took control of a ball out of the air and spun before hitting a left-footed shot towards the goal but Badr, who made seven saves on the night denied the defender.
Steel FC made one final push in stoppage time and nearly tied the score but the volley bounced just outside of the goal post and FCC would preserve the win.
FC Cincinnati goes on the road for a pair of games against Rochester Rhinos next Wed., July 6, and then travels to St. Louis FC Sat., July 9.