CINCINNATI, OH – FC Cincinnati played host to Valencia CF on Monday in an international friendly and dropped the contest 2-0 at Nippert Stadium. The match drew an attendance of 23,144 that witnessed scoreless play for 61 minutes before Valencia took the lead midway through the second half.
“It was an interesting game, but tonight was more than winning and losing,” said FCC Head Coach Alan Koch. “It was a phenomenal experience. We were able to get good minutes all-around and I was happy with how the entire group embraced the experience. There is a reason that Valencia is in the league that they’re in and play the way that they do.”
In the 62nd minute, Valencia midfielder Nando escaped the FCC defense and fellow midfielder Dani Parejo lofted the ball downfield. Goalkeeper Dallas Jaye, who entered the game for starter Mitch Hildebrandt in the 32nd minute, was alone in front of the net and Nando fired a right-footed shot from just outside the six-foot box into the left side of the net for a 1-0 advantage.
The first period saw its share of offense. In the 12th minute, Valencia was awarded a corner kick and Parejo fired it into the box. Midfielder Alvaro Medran tried a shot from inside the box, but Hildebrandt was there for his only save of the night.
The Orange and Blue attacked on the other end in the 13th minute as midfielder Aodhan Quinn controlled possession outside the top of the box. With a good look at the net, Quinn fired one that was deflected over the net by Valencia keeper Neto.
Despite FCC managing just one shot at the goal through the first 45 minutes compared to six for Valencia, the two clubs were scoreless entering intermission.
At the break, the home crowd was treated to a ceremony honoring FCC’s Omar Cummings, who announced his retirement on Saturday. Majority owner Carl H. Lindner III and President and General Manager Jeff Berding presented Cummings with a framed jersey.
Said Koch: “The Omar that the fans see is the Omar that we see behind the scenes. What I’ve seen over the last six months on the field is equally as important as what he’s done off the field.”
Cummings, who started the second half, wasted little time getting involved. In the 49th minute, forward Kadeem Dacres stole possession from Valencia and passed ahead to a sprinting Cummings. Valencia forward Alvaro Negredo fouled Cummings along the right side and the Orange and Blue were awarded a free kick. Midfielder Aodhan Quinn assisted defender Sem de Wit on a header that ultimately sailed high.
“I feel good tonight. It doesn’t feel as though it’s [retirement] hit me yet, but I feel okay,” Cummings said following the match. “Cincinnati has given me so much, from an education, to an opportunity to play professional soccer, and to come back and finish my career in Cincinnati has been a joy.”
In the 73rd minute, Cummings again showed his aggressiveness, crossing a ball into the box near defender Matt Bahner. However, Valencia defender Nacho Vidal knocked it out of play at the last moment.
FCC was awarded a corner in the final moments of stoppage time and Koch called for all eleven on the attack, including keeper Dan Williams, who came in for Jaye. Orange and Blue midfielder Kenney Walker skied a shot into the box that was defended by Valencia. Midfielder Nacho Gil came away with possession and set up forward Simon Zaza for a breakaway goal, giving Valencia the 2-0 win.
VAL: 62’ – Nando (Dani Parejo)
VAL: 90+3’ – Simon Zaza (Nacho Gil)
FCC: Mitch Hildebrandt, Pat McMahon, Garrett Halfhill, Sem de Wit, Marco Dominguez, Jimmy McLaughlin, Aaron Walker, Paul Nicholson, Aodhan Quinn, Kadeem Dacres, Kyle Greig
VAL: Neto, Martin Montoya, Ruben Vezo, Javi Jimenez, Alex Centelles, Dani Parejo, Alvaro Medran, Fabian Orellana, Nando, Simon Zaza, Alvaro Negredo