Louisville City FC spoils FC Cincinnati’s home opener

The reigning United Soccer League champions came into Nippert Stadium and spoiled FC Cincinnati’s home opener Saturday.

FCC conceded an early goal and never came up with an answer, dropping a 1-0 loss to Louisville City FC in a River Cities Cup rivalry match played in front of a USL home opener record crowd of 25,667.

Louisville improves to 3-0-0, while FCC is now 2-1-0 heading back on the road next week at Bethlehem Steel FC.

“We’re disappointed to lose the derby obviously,” FCC coach Alan Koch said. “I don’t think anybody anywhere in this business has been happy not to win a derby where you get to go represent your team and fans. Fair play to Louisville, they are obviously a very good team. They are very cohesive team. They’ve played together a lot. Ironically, it’s a group that’s played on this field more than our group has played, and it showed the first 45 minutes. They were definitely the better team the first 45 minutes.”

The Orange and Blue struggled leaving players unmarked in the middle of the box in the first half, and Louisville City took advantage to get on the board. Cameron Lancaster pounced on an open opportunity from near the penalty spot and easily put his shot past Evan Newton in the 13th minute for the 1-0 lead.

Louisville continued to threaten after that but was unable to get a foot on several loose balls in the box.

FCC’s best chance pf the half came in the 25th minute when Emmanuel Ledesma made a nice run up the middle, beat a defender and dished the ball out to Corben Bone for a shot that was saved and then cleared off the goal line by Paco Craig.

“We were completely stretched defensively, and when you get stretched, there is all sorts of space for the opposition to play,” Koch said. “There were moments in the first 45 minutes where Louisville possessed the ball way too easily because we got stretched, and that’s something we definitely need to focus on. I think we were a little better in the second half.”

Holding onto the lead, Louisville sat back on defense, using high pressure and staying compact to try to thwart FCC’s attacks, but things started to open up for the home side shortly after Danni Konig replaced Will Seymore to give Cincinnati another man up top in the 57th minute.

FCC had a number of chances in the second half where players just couldn’t get good touches on the ball and a few shots sailed over the crossbar, including one by Ledesma from close range. One last push for the equalizer stalled on a scramble near the goal line but Louisville City managed to clear it and moments later, the final whistle blew to end the game.

“I think in the second half we did better defending and turning defense into offense and creating chances and kind of over-ran them with pressure and also shutting down their counter attacks,” Bone said. “I think we won back a lot of balls to keep them pinned in, and unfortunately we didn’t get lucky or didn’t have that bit of class in the last second, or quality, to put it in the back of the net.”

The game was a complete turnaround from FCC’s first two games, where the Orange and Blue got on the board early and then tightened up on defense to protect the lead and grind out the win.

FCC collected a pair of 1-0 road wins at Charleston and Indy coming into its home opener with six points after managing just 12 points on the road all of last season.

“That’s what is disappointing,” Koch said. “What we’ve gone out and done to other teams was done to us tonight. It’s something we have to learn from. We’re a new team. This is our third game. So, to expect no ripples at this stage of the season would be very unrealistic. We’re in an excellent position with six points out of nine, but this is good for us to happen to us early.”

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