CINCINNATI -- FC Cincinnati couldn’t overcome Orlando City B -- or the officials.
In a game plagued by fouls and yellow cards, FCC gave up a penalty kick in the 75th minute and couldn’t recover. Orlando City dealt the home side a 2-0 loss Saturday in front of 19,310 fans at Nippert Stadium.
GALLERY: Photos from Saturday's match
Here are the top nine takeaways from the game:
1. Chippy game
It was yet another physical game, as the teams combined for 36 fouls. But 21 of them were charged to FC Cincinnati (2-4-3), in addition to five of the eight yellow cards. That made it tough for either team to get into a rhythm, but particularly FCC.
Late in the game, it finally cost the Orange and Blue the match: Kadeem Dacres took down Pierre Da Silva on a slide tackle at the edge of the penalty box, setting up the game-winning goal for the MLS-loaned Da Silva. FCC pushed forward from there to try to get the equalizer but experienced several breakdowns on defense, once when goalie Mitch Hildebrandt came up with a double save as OCB had numbers in the box.
As the game headed into stoppage time, Orlando got the insurance goal from Richie Laryea on a fastbreak.
“It’s just one game,” FCC coach Alan Koch said. “We’ve got a group of players with their heads down. They are pretty frustrated with how the game went this evening. I guess I’m not supposed to speak about the referees, so I won’t. … There are certain things you can’t control, and when you encounter those, you’ve got to deal with those moments of adversity. It was very, very frustrating.”
2. Coming up empty
Until that point, FCC spent a lot more time in its offensive third -- but still managed just one more shot than Orlando and lost the overall possession battle, despite more opportunities in the second half.
FCC finished with nine shots, seven of them in the second half while possessing the ball 53.7 percent of the time during those 45 minutes. In the first half, Cincinnati had several quick transitions result in nothing. Even while getting more chances later in the game, FCC still came up empty-handed.
“If we analyze ourselves and we do that first, we struggled with problem solving and movement a little bit in the first 45 minutes. And at halftime, we spoke to our players about a couple players and fair play ... in the second 45 minutes, they problem-solved fantastic,” Koch said. “We were the team pushing forward, and playing at home in front of our fans, we wanted to give ourselves the best chance we had to get three points. And when you do that, you expose yourself a little bit.”
Orlando City B started seven players on loan from its MLS parent club.
3. Negated opportunities
Whistles stripped FCC’s best chances on offense, too.
On one odd play in the third minute, the center official blocked a clear by Orlando City in the box and FCC forward Jimmy McLaughlin scored on the rebound, but the goal was negated by an offsides call.
Later in the half, Dacres was laid out at midfield while sending a perfect through ball to set McLaughlin up for a clear path to goal. But the official blew the whistle to stop play before McLaughlin could get a shot. Orlando’s Seb Hines was issued a yellow, and McLaughlin -- very reasonably -- argued play should have continued as FC Cincinnati had the advantage.
“We wanted to play and put our best foot forward and try to set ourselves up for success,” Koch said. “I haven’t seen the replays yet, so I’m curious to see if Jimmy’s goal that was scored in the first five or 10 minutes, if that was offside. I don’t know. There were a lot of moments in terms of professional fouls that were made that weren’t dealt with or weren’t dealt with appropriately or evenly. Those were the frustrating moments.”
4. Inconsistent calls
One of the most frustrating things for Koch was inconsistency in calls. Fans seemed to agree, as the stadium filled with more “boos” than usual.
FCC had three yellow cards by halftime, and 21 fouls at that point.
“When someone does things as an official that’s consistent, coaches can understand it,” Koch said. “You may not agree with it, but if certain things are happening in the game, sometimes it was a foul, sometimes it wasn’t, sometimes it was a yellow card, sometimes it was just ‘keep on playing,’ you can see that bugs the crap out of me.”
PAST COVERAGE: What's with all these FC Cincy red cards?
Defender Austin Berry was frustrated he wasn’t given more of an opportunity to play his role as captain, which usually means moderator.
“The biggest thing that’s frustrating for me, being the captain, is -- I’m trying not to get fined but -- the continuous disrespect to me as a captain of not speaking to me and them yelling at my players before coming to me,” Berry said. “If a guy is yelling at a referee a bunch of times, come to me, say something, I say something to him, and if he keeps doing it, that’s on me. But if you yell at my player before talking to me, that’s kind of disrespectful. That’s why we have captains.”
5. Konig’s debut
As expected, newly acquired forward Danni Konig got the start up top in suspended forward Djiby Fall’s place. But his first game wasn’t particularly strong.
Konig played the entire game but had no shots and conceded more fouls (five) than the number of chances he created (four). He was given a yellow card for mocking the official after one foul.
FC Cincinnati acquired Konig this week in a trade that sent Andy Craven back to Oklahoma City Energy FC, where he finished last season. Konig scored 22 goals in 2015 to lead OKC to the Western Conference finals.
“Any player that comes in and had just trained with a team two days and is asked to be in the starting lineup, it’s very difficult. But he’s a quality player, he’s a professional,” Koch said. “I think he got fatigued as the game went on, but he’s the type of player that even if he’s not having the greatest influence, if you give him more opportunities, he’s probably going to take it.”
Fall still leads FCC with six goals and is now halfway through his six-game suspension for a red card and allegedly biting a Louisville City player in their 1-1 draw April 22.
6. Lineup changes continue
With Konig’s insertion and Kenney Walker out for a second straight game with a knee contusion, FCC was using its ninth different lineup in as many matches, but Koch said that isn’t by design.
“As a coach, and I think for our players, we would all like to have the same 11 every game, but we really haven’t been in that kind of position,” Koch said. “We’ve had a lot of injuries, we’ve had suspensions, of course, we’ve had the transition we’ve gone through. We really are still in a construction stage in terms of building our group, making sure we have the right culture and bringing the players together to set them up for success. I think it’s understandable in terms of where we are, why we’ve had to play with so many lineups.”
McLaughlin, who has been used in multiple positions this season, had been playing in Fall’s place the past two games but moved to Andrew Wiedeman’s spot, sending Wiedeman to the bench for just the second time this season to start a game.
Daryl Fordyce once again took Walker’s place.
7. What the result means
FC Cincinnati dropped one spot to eighth in the United Soccer League Eastern Conference table -- with games still being played Saturday night -- and has been hovering around the middle of the pack.
However, Koch still feels the group is improving, even if results aren’t coming.
“Every team we play is significantly improved (from years past). We’re improving, too,” Koch said. “I feel we’re getting better every week. The big bonus for our group is the sky’s the limit. If I looked at the Eastern Conference, we’re the team that’s not quite where they need to be yet. Thankfully, we’ve only played nine games, and there are 32 games in the season, so we are heading in the right direction ... We have to stay patient and stay positive.”
8. Measuring the crowd
The crowd Saturday ranked third among the four home games this season, despite perfect weather on an early weekend evening. But it still is the eighth-best crowd in the club’s 19-game history at Nippert Stadium.
FCC drew a season-best attendance of 23,144 in the home opener and its record crowd was 24,376 in the regular-season finale last year against Orlando.
Cincinnati fans had not yet witnessed a loss after the club went 1-0-2 in the first three home games this year.
“It’s disappointing when you have fan support like that and let them down,” defender Harrison Delbridge said.
9. Looking ahead
The Orange and Blue step away from USL play Wednesday to host AFC Cleveland in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup, a match that could see several reserves in the lineup for FCC.
The Royals were the 2016 National Premier Soccer League national champions and have made the playoffs four of the five years they’ve been in existence. The NPSL is a fourth-division league of the American soccer pyramid.
“We just went out and played a very tough, physical game, so we will have to assess the players and see where they are at,” Koch said. “… Are we going to rotate completely or go with the same group or do more of a hybrid, we’ll make that decision.”
The winner of that game advances to play either Louisville City or Tartan on May 31.
FCC is home again each of the next two weekends and play six of its next seven games -- potentially seven of eight if it advances in the Open Cup -- at home.