Manneh

Takeaways from KR Reykjavik friendly

BRADENTON,  Fla. –  In their final match of the 2020 preseason, FC Cincinnati produced an entertaining 3-3 draw against KR Reykjavík on Friday afternoon at the IMG Academy Soccer Complex.

Here are the takeaways from the match…

The offense finished the chances it created

Despite conceding in the 12th minute, FCC quickly responded with an equalizer in the 18th minute. By taking a quick free kick to catch KR off guard, Haris Medunjanin found Allan Cruz at the back post, who brought it down and left it for a charging Kendall Waston, who blasted the ball in to level the match.

Jimmy McLaughlin gave FCC a 2-1 lead seven minutes later when he was the recipient of Kekuta Manneh’s charging run from the left wing into the box.

Cincinnati’s last goal arrived in the 55th minute when Frankie Amaya’s shot rattled the left post and Cruz was there for the rebound.

Brandon Vazquez nearly scored the game winner in stoppage time, but his shot clanked off the back post as the referee blew his whistle. The attempt on goal was the last kick of the game.

“There is some satisfaction in the game,” interim head coach Yoann Damet said. “One of them is what we did in possession with the buildup, but also creating opportunities and scoring goals.”

McLaughlin nets first goal since June 9, 2018

There was a time when the winger didn’t know if he’d ever play for FC Cincinnati again.

After tearing his ACL last January, he missed the entire 2019 season recovering. In the offseason, he was told he could tryout for a 2020 roster spot, which he earned earlier this month in Tucson.

“It’s been a long time coming and a long journey to get back here and a lot of uncertainty,” McLaughlin said. “It’s been a fantastic last five weeks for me and a lot of hard work has gone into this. For me to be rewarded with a goal at the end of the preseason was a nice icing on top.”

The goal was McLaughlin’s first since June 9, 2018, when he scored in Cincinnati’s 2-0 win at North Carolina FC in the USL.

A fitting end to the preseason

There were plenty of positives from FCC’s final preseason friendly.

For starters, eight players played the full match for the first time this preseason and the team came away healthy.

In addition, Manneh, who was only making his third appearance in five months, played a preseason-high 73 minutes and showcased the quality he produced last season.

“It’s nice and it’s been a long time for me, a few months,” Manneh said. “To get these minutes going into the season, I think it’s good for me and good for the team going forward. I’m itching and I’m ready to go.”

Manneh’s 2019 regular season ended prematurely when he underwent shoulder surgery in late September. The goal was for him to return in time for the 2020 season opener. If Friday was any indication, the winger is ready.

Tom Pettersson made his first preseason appearance since the team’s intrasquad scrimmage on Jan. 25. Out with a groin injury for much of preseason, he rehabbed and played the last 17 minutes of the match alongside Kendall Waston.

“There has been a lot of improvement from day one in the way we want to play, the way we want to defend, our game plan, our style of play and our DNA,” Manneh said. “There’s been massive improvement from the first game to now. I’m really proud and I’m really excited for the guys. Hopefully we’re able to maintain and show this throughout the season.”

What comes next

The friendly concluded FC Cincinnati’s 2020 preseason. The team will return to the Queen City on Friday night and beginning training for the regular season on Monday.

The 2020 MLS season opener is next Sunday at Red Bull Arena.

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