ATLANTA – Led by a second-half equalizer from Roland Lamah, FC Cincinnati recorded their first point in their inaugural MLS season by playing Atlanta United to a 1-1 draw at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday night.
The home side jumped out to an early lead after Josef Martinez registered Atlanta’s first MLS goal of 2019. Julian Gressel played a through ball from the right side of the middle third to the reigning MLS Golden Boot winner, who got beyond the FCC backline and fired a right-footed strike beyond Spencer Richey and inside the near post.
Lamah found the equalizer for the Orange and Blue in the 86th minute of action. Kenny Saief’s through ball in the middle third found Lamah just beyond the 18-yard box. From there, the midfielder took one touch and slotted a left-footed shot past Brad Guzan and inside the far post to level the scoreline.
FC Cincinnati will make their home debut as an MLS team at Nippert Stadium on Sunday, March 17, when the team hosts MLS Cup finalists Portland Timbers at 5 p.m. The match will be televised nationally live on FS1, streamed on FOX Sports GO and carried on the radio on WDJO. Season tickets, mini plans and individual-game tickets are on sale at fccincinnati.com/tickets or by calling 513-977-5425 (KICK).
For up-to-the-minute information about FC Cincinnati, visit the team’s official website at fccincinnati.com, or follow the team on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @FCCincinnati.
FC Cincinnati 1, Atlanta United 1
Mercedes-Benz Stadium | Atlanta, Ga.
Sunday, March 10, 2019
ATL – Josef Martinez (Julian Gressel) 5’
CIN – Roland Lamah (Kenny Saief) 86’
FC Cincinnati: Spencer Richey, Mathieu Deplagne, Kendall Waston, Nick Hagglund, Alvas Powell (Greg Garza 71’), Victor Ulloa, Leonardo Bertone, Allan Cruz (Kenny Saief 73’), Kekuta Manneh (Darren Mattocks 58’), Roland Lamah, Fanendo Adi
Bench: Jimmy Hague, Eric Alexander, Corben Bone, Caleb Stanko
Stats: Shots 4, Shots on goal 1, Saves 3, Corner kicks 0, Offsides 8, Fouls 6, Possession 33.5%, Passes 339 (73.7%)
Atlanta United FC: Brad Guzan, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Michael Parkhurst, Miles Robinson, Brek Shea, Jeff Larentowicz, Eric Remedi, Julian Gressel, Ezequiel Barco (Darlington Nagbe 59’), Josef Martinez, Gonzalo Martinez (Andrew Carleton 74’)
Bench: Alec Kann, Kevin Kratz, Mikey Ambrose, Romario Williams, Hector Villalba
Stats: Shots 10, Shots on goal 4, Saves 0, Corner kicks 5, Offsides 0, Fouls 8, Possession 66.5%, Passes 660 (85.9%)
ATL – Leandro Gonzalez Pirez (caution)11’
Referee: Allen Chapman
Assistant Referees: Jeremy Hanson (AR1) and Brian Dunn (AR2)
Fourth Official: Joseph Dickerson
VAR: Edvin Jurisevic
Weather: 68 degrees and cloudy
HOW IT HAPPENED
- 5’ | ATL GOAL – Julian Gressel sends a through ball that beats Cincinnati’s backline and finds Josef Martinez one-on-one against Spencer Richey inside the 18-yard box. Martinez slots his shot to the near post and past Richey
- 13’ | Following a foul from Atlanta’s Eric Remedi in FC Cincinnati’s final third, the Orange and Blue earned a free kick in a threatening position. Leo Bertone sends a curling free kick to Kendall Waston inside the box, however, Waston’s attempt was off target wide of the net.
- 26’ | FCC earned a free kick after Jeff Larentowicz fouled Kekuta Manneh in their attacking half. Bertone sends a ball into the box, but Nick Hagglund is unable to make solid contact as the ball bounced off his knee beyond the endline.
- 44’ | Atlanta’s Gonzalo Martinez finds Ezequiel Barco on the left side of the field, outside of the penalty box. Barco cuts to his right and shoots a curled shot straight at Spencer Richey.
- 45’ | Josef Martinez’s initial shot is blocked by the Cincinnati defense. Martinez taps the ball back to Julian Gressel, whose shot from a distance goes just wide of the goal frame.
- 57’ | Julian Gressel’s sends a cross to the far post. After gaining possession of the ball, Gonzalo Martinez passes the ball back to Josef Martinez. Martinez cuts to his left twice before, firing a sho6 on goal, but Spencer Richey is able to stop the shot with his chest for a massive save to deny Martinez from registering a brace.
- 68’| From the right corner of the field, Alvas Powell passes the ball to Allan Cruz inside the 18-yard box. Cruz’s first touch shot sails over the crossbar.
- 86’ | CIN GOAL – From the middle third, Kenny Saief threads a perfectly weighted in between two Atlanta defenders and finds Roland Lamah just beyond the penalty area, Lamah takes a touch on the ball and slots a left-footed shot on the inside of the far post to provide the equalizing goal.
- Tonight's match resulted in FC Cincinnati’s first-ever point in MLS … the Orange and Blue are now 0-1-1 through two MLS matches
- FC Cincinnati all-time record against Atlanta United FC moves to 0-0-1
- Today’s match was contested in front of 70,382 fans in attendance, making it the largest-ever crowd FC Cincinnati has played in front of … this mark breaks the previous club record of 39,011 fans that was set eight days prior in FCC’s inaugural MLS match at Seattle on March 2.
- FC Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch made three changes to the starting lineup from last week’s match. Spencer Richey, Allan Cruz and Kekuta Manneh replaced Przemysław Tytoń, Eric Alexander and Corben Bone
- Kekuta Manneh made his first start for the Orange and Blue … the pacey forward made his FC Cincinnati debut as a second-half substitute in FCC’s season opener at Seattle on March 2
- Alan Cruz, Greg Garza and Kenny Saief made their FC Cincinnati debuts in tonight’s match … Cruz earned the start and played 73 minutes, Garza came in for Alvas Powell in the 71st minute, while Saief entered the match for Allan Cruz in the 73rd minute … Cruz was not chosen for the 18-man matchday roster for the season opener at Seattle on March 2 … Garza has been rehabbing a quadriceps injury that he suffered while in January Camp with the United States Men’s National Team … Saief just joined FC Cincinnati on loan from Belgian club RSC Anderlecht on Wednesday, March 6.
- Garza became the first FC Cincinnati player to play against his former MLS club … The FCC left back made a combined 42 appearances in MLS regular-season and MLS Cup Playoffs matches for Atlanta … he scored three goals and added eight assists over two seasons … FCC players Fanendo Adi, Eric Alexander, Darren Mattocks and Alvas Powell could all join Garza in facing a former team against Portland next weekend.
- Spencer Richey made his first MLS start since March 18, 2017 … in that match, Richey made one save for Vancouver Whitecaps FC as they fell to Toronto FC, 2-0.
- Saief is FC Cincinnati’s second player this season to have earned U.S. Men’s National Team caps and make his MLS debut … Caleb Stanko, who has one cap with the USMNT, debuted for the Orange and Blue and in MLS in the season opener at Seattle on March 2 … Saief has four caps with the USMNT dating back to his international debut in an international friendly against Ghana on July 1, 2017.
- Saief recorded the first assist in FC Cincinnati history… FCC’s newest addition assisted Roland Lamah’s goal in the 86th minute.
FCC Head Coach Alan Koch
On the team’s response to going down 1-0 early in the match
“I don’t think it phased us at all. Obviously, it is very difficult to go on the road and play in a place like this and concede that early. Some teams will collapse, but give the guys credit tonight. They didn’t collapse at all. We just stayed calm, we managed the process of getting through the game, did what good teams do on the road and go grab a goal by the end of the game.”
On having a game plan for Josef Martinez
“Give him no space. For every quality player you play against, if you give them space, they can hurt you. That was the plan for him, but it was also pretty much for the entire group. There is a reason they are the champions in the league. They have a lot of quality players, I think they showed that at times tonight. But give our group a lot of credit. Collective defending tonight was very good and I’m glad to see the guys get rewarded with a goal right at the end of the game.”
On what the turning point was
“When you are home and you are up, you want to finish the game off. By not scoring the second goal, and us not allowing them to score the second goal, [that] kept us in the game. That allowed us then to make some attacking substitutions. Putting Kenny [Saief] was an attacking substitution, putting Greg [Garza] on is a very attacking substitution because he is an attack-minded full back. Obviously, we had to get Kekuta [Manneh] off because he was injured, but Darren [Mattocks] went on and did the job too. By virtue of staying in it as long as we did, we allowed ourselves to have that chance and they guys took it right at the end of the game.”
On getting Greg Garza his first appearance against his old club
“It’s huge. You could hear their fans. It showed how much they valued him here over the last two years and you can see how much we are going to value him moving forward. I’m excited to see him and our entire group play at Nippert next week.”
On what this result does for FC Cincinnati
“You know what’s funny? During the course of the game, I was thinking, ‘we are showing major growth.’ We might have showed major growth tonight without getting anything from the game. We believe in the group. Obviously, we know it is going to take time, but that growth was unfolding in front of our own eyes as the game went on. I think getting the point is huge for the players’ confidence. They will feel a lot better about themselves and the worth that they put in. They should have been rewarded tonight. They put in a very good collective performance, and to get a point on the road here is a huge milestone for us as a club.”
FCC midfielder/defender Kenny Saief
On entering the game in a difficult moment
“It was okay, the team tried it’s best. We worked as a team and I’m happy that we could score. I think we deserved over the last few minutes to even win the game. There is still a long way to go, we are improving week-to-week and I am very happy that we could take a point today.”
On sensing that a goal was coming
“Yeah I always believe that we can do something. There is a lot of quality in the team. We just needed to push to believe it and go for it.”
FCC defender Greg Garza
On getting a warm reception from the Atlanta fans
“I couldn’t ask for any better. This is probably one of my favorite stadiums to ever play in as a professional. To be able to win a championship here and get that reception and be on the opposing team – I’ve never been a part of something like that. It was breathtaking, and it is something I will always remember.
On the flow of the game when he entered
“I think we definitely needed some guys to change the game and that was the talk with all of the coaches before we came on. Give credit to the subs that came in. Darren [Mattocks], Kenny [Saief] and myself gave a bit of energy to the team. We kind of got into their half more than we did the entire game, so it was good to really step uit p a bit. We just got a really valued point against a championship team. Moving forward, obviously you can’t get too confident now. We have to focus on next weekend at Nippert.”
On how difficult it is to get points in Atlanta
“After three minutes in and they score, I didn’t even see the goal. I think I was still waving to some fans. I thought the game was going to end about 5 or 6-0. I’m glad we were able to change it around, I’m glad we were able to get more energy as the game went on. We started to grow some confidence and, to be honest, I think we could have really changed the game if we had more time. It is tough to see my old teammates going through a pretty tough time right now, but at the same time, a really valued point that we have with this new club.”
FCC midfielder Roland Lamah
On first goal with FCC
“I feel good, the team feels good too, so I think it’s a great point for Cincinnati. So, we have to keep pushing and keep playing like the second half today.”
On why he pointed to the badge on his jersey during his celebration
“Because I play in Cincinnati. So, i'm proud to wear this shirt and I’m really happy.”
On what he saw on the goal
“We work on training. We know between the two center backs we have really good space, so when I see Kenny come inside, I just run and know the ball is gonna come, so great finish.”