This past Saturday, FC Cincinnati re-aired their emphatic 4-0 win over the Richmond Kickers from 2018. It was a chance to see a free-flowing FCC score quality goals.
But it was also an opportunity for players from that match to speak about the win and that memorable season. While the game re-aired, Voice of FCC Tommy Gelehrter led this week’s Buffalo Wings & Rings Second Screen Experience with Blake Smith and Michael Lahoud.
The trio talked about the win, the 2018 season and what the players remember from the Queen City. These were some of the top moments, which you can watch here.
How that Richmond win showed FCC’s potential
Before that win, Cincinnati had previously only won one other match by a 4-0 score line – the 2017 home opener, which ended up being an outlier to that USL season. As for the win over the Kickers, it was four games into the club’s eventual 23-game unbeaten streak, and the match highlighted the team’s true potential.
“From my end, being newer to the team … it felt like we were searching for who we were,” Michael Lahoud said of the start of the season. “We knew we had talent to win games, we knew we had talent to win the league. But when you have talent, it almost becomes much harder because everyone was a good player.
“This Richmond game was almost the game that allowed us to settle in and give us an identity and formation of a 4-4-2 diamond.”
By the time the Orange and Blue faced the Kickers, FCC had become comfortable – and efficient – in their diamond midfield that kept opponents disoriented and overwhelmed. In this match, Lahoud and Corben Bone were on the outside, while Richie Ryan was the anchor and Nazmi Albadawi was the center-attacking midfielder.
Emmanuel Ledesma and Justin Hoyte had standout performances, as Manu scored twice and the right back provided two assists.
“We had two full rosters of quality players,” Smith said.
On Hoyte being a role model
“He’s a huge role model for me,” Smith said. “You see at his age what he was able to perform and the professionalism. This guy had reached the pinnacle of success who played for my favorite club of all time. He had nothing to prove and yet it was out there proving age is just a number.”
(Smith is apparently an Arsenal fan.)
But the comment from Smith sparked conversation about Hoyte, who is one of the most beloved players to represent FCC. Arriving in 2017 on trial, the fullback eventually transitioned to becoming a starting center back for Cincinnati last summer in the club’s inaugural MLS season.
Lahoud also praised Hoyte for being a leader.
“As soon as I got (to Cincinnati), we had mutual friends in Kei Kamara,” Lahoud said. “He pulled me aside and said, ‘I’m going to look after you because there are guys who have looked after me.’ For him to extend that level of professionalism, it just shows what he brings to the game and his leadership.”
Smith on the moment he knew 2018 could be special
For as memorable as that season was for the Orange and Blue, who claimed the 2018 USL Supporters’ Shield, the season actually started with a rough patch.
While the June 2 win over New York Red Bulls II started the unbeaten run, there were frustrating losses in the opening months of the season.
But even through that, Smith knew FCC had the potential for a great season because of the club’s preseason bonding.
“Immediately we all clicked and we were all there for a greater purpose,” the left back said. “Every day was a fight for a spot, but it was friendly competition. It was just a special group and we just hit it off and came together really, really quickly … I could feel it was going to be a good season and it turned out to be a great season.”