CHARLOTTE, NC – FC Cincinnati lost in back-to-back matches for the first time this year after dropping a 3-2 decision against Charlotte Independence Wed., night at Ramblewood Soccer Complex.
FCC came away with the Queen City Cup by virtue of away-goal scoring but the trophy was a small consolation to the side which fought to battle from behind twice and played with a man advantage in the final 10 minutes.
An action-packed first half saw three goals in the first 20 minutes. FCC experienced a bit of déjà vu as the team was called for the foul in the box in the 11th minute, resulting in a penalty kick awarded to the Independence.
Harrison Delbridge, challenging Brian Brown in defense of FCC’s goal, was whistled after knocking down Brown in the box. Enzo Martinez’s initial attempt was stopped by a diving Mitch Hildebrandt but he was unable to corral the ball and Martinez was quick to jump on the rebound for the 1-0 lead.
The Orange and Blue quickly responded. Andrew Wiedeman was the recipient of a through-ball from Alvaro Anton Ripoll in the 15th minute and carried the ball towards the Charlotte goal. Goalkeeper John Berner dove to challenge the play but Wiedeman neatly chipped the ball over Berner into the empty net to put FCC on the board.
It was Martinez again in the 19th minute as the forward chested an FCC clearance and from distance drove the ball into the lower left corner to give the Independence the one-goal lead for the second time in the game.
FCC answered by applying continuous pressure and looking for the equalizer. Wiedeman delivered a shot off a corner kick which Berner managed to shove over the crossbar. Delbridge looked to make up for his earlier foul and worked to get on the end of a pair of set pieces but both his headers missed the mark.
In the 38th minute, Derek Luke served a ball in and found the head of a diving Austin Berry on FCC’s seventh corner kick of the half, but the ball bounced to Jack Metcalf, who was able to clear the ball.
FCC had one last chance to tie the match before the half ended as Luke’s corner kick found Sean Okoli. However, the forward’s attempt stayed high and the two teams would retreat to their respective locker rooms.
The Orange and Blue were the aggressors early in the second half, directing much of the action during the first 10 minutes of play.
Their offensive effort was rewarded in the 61st minute as Wiedeman and Okoli linked up for the tying goal.
Paul Nicholson found Wiedeman on the left flank and Wiedeman cut the ball back before flicking a pass into the box to Okoli, who used the back of his head to knock the ball pass Berner.
Okoli nearly had a brace of his own in the 64th minute as he blistered a shot from the left side but his effort flew high.
Charlotte threatened in the 71st minute off a Jorge Herrera corner kick. The cross into the box found Jun Marques Davidson, who used a heel kick to find Bilal Duckett and the defender looked to have a clean shot at the goal but his attempt slammed into the side of the net.
FCC was awarded a man advantage after Duckett was served his second yellow card in the 80th minute. However, that foul seemed to spur the Independence and Herrera was able to put the home side ahead for good with a free kick in the 85th minute.
FCC worked to create an opportunity to tie in stoppage time. Luke Spencer took a shot towards the goal but his header was blocked back into play. Delbridge collected the rebound and put a hard shot on frame. Okoli, who found himself to be a sure target of the shot, ducked to avoid the missile, revealing Berner, who was able to react and punch the ball away seconds before the final whistle blew.
FCC slipped to fourth in the division after Richmond collected a point following 1-1 tie against Charleston Battery.
The team will host Saint Louis FC Mon., Sept. 5 at 4:30 at Nippert Stadium.