FC Cincy ties top team in Eastern Division

Second-half breakdowns have plagued FC Cincinnati against Charleston Battery in the past, but this time the Orange and Blue fought back to at least secure a point in the division standings.

Charleston rallied from behind with two goals in a nine-minute span in the second half before FCC forward Andrew Wiedeman's spectacular equalizer in the 80th minute gave the home side a 2-2 draw Saturday in front of 21,074 fans at Nippert Stadium.

FCC (4-5-5) had squandered leads in back-to-back 2-1 losses to Charleston (8-2-4), dating back to the 2016 playoffs, and gladly takes the table point against the Eastern Division leader. The draw comes after an emotional victory Wednesday against Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew SC in the U.S. Open Cup and pushes FCC up one spot in the standings with other games still being played Saturday.

“We’re absolutely exhausted,” FC Cincinnati coach Alan Koch said. “What an emotional week for our players, coaches, entire staff and our fans. … We take our hats off to our players. What they did Wednesday was very special for our club and our city and we knew tonight, going against the Eastern Division leaders, was … not going to be an easy feat. Going up at halftime, we thought we could hang on but moments in the second half cost us. Thank goodness for a special moment from Andrew Wiedeman and the players to come back and salvage the draw.”

Cincinnati had taken the first lead on Djiby Fall's header goal in the fourth minute, as he finished off a head ball from Harrison Delbridge on Josu Currais' free kick. It was Fall's 10th goal overall this season, including seven goals in eight league games, and the quickest score by FC Cincinnati in two seasons.

Once again, FCC couldn’t hold on, though.

Charleston got the equalizer on a Romario Williams flick-in on Ricky Garbanzo's feed to the top of the six-yard box in the 63rd minute, and then Forrest Lasso made it 2-1 on a header off a long throw-in in the 72nd minute.

“As the game went forward, I think everyone got a little tired I think and we let them back in the game,” defender Paul Nicholson said, also noting it likely was the result of an emotional week.

Wiedeman stepped up with the play of the game for FC Cincinnati in the 80th minute, beating his defender with a nifty move to his left inside the box and then finishing off the equalizer on a side volley for his first goal of the season.

FC Cincinnati had brought on Wiedeman for Danni Konig in the 68th minute and shifted to a heavier attack with the insertion of forward Kadeem Dacres for defender Paul Nicholson in the 77th minute.

“It feels nice (to score), but I think we also thought we were going to get the momentum and push for the win after that,” Wiedeman said.

The Orange and Blue has the week to prepare for St. Louis FC, which it hosts June 24 in another battle between teams pushing for playoff positioning in the Eastern Division table.

After that, it's another busy week with MLS side Chicago Fire FC coming to Nippert for a U.S. Open Cup fifth-round game (Round of 16) on June 28, followed by a July 1 game at Orlando City B.