Louisville City’s 17 match unbeaten streak is over. So is their unbeaten record against FC Cincinnati. Oh, and there won’t be any Dirty River Derby celebrations this year either.
The boys in purple lost 2-0 to FC Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon at Nippert Stadium, and to be honest, it is very difficult to put into words how abysmally unimpressive that shoddy effort was. Actually, that’s not a bad description of what we saw today.
For the first ten minutes of the match, Louisville City seemed to be in control. They forced a corner inside the first minute of the match, had numerous early crosses, and were putting lots of pressure on the hosts. In fact, Cincinnati didn’t have their first spell of real possession until the ninth minute of the match. However, the defense began to show some holes after the early spell, and it was eventually their undoing.
It is hard to tell if it was the heat, the lack of cohesion between Sean Reynolds and Paco Craig, the four attackers that FC Cincinnati started the match with, or perhaps a combination of the three. What was easy to tell was that the defense was not up to task today. Greg Ranjitsingh, who made a few key saves in the match, was also partially responsible for some of the poor play in the back.
It started in the 9th minute, when a Sean Okoli shot was deflected and rolled into the six yard area. Ranjitsingh had to make a frantic save to deny the ball off the boot of attacker Omar Cummings. Then four minutes later, it took a frantic effort by the entire defense to keep it scoreless. A free kick from the midway line was sent into the box, and Ranjitsingh came to punch it out—and didn’t get the ball. It fell to an attacker with Greg nowhere to be found, but Reynolds made a sprawling tackle to knock the ball away. Okoli and others cried for a penalty [Ed. Note: rightfully, to be fair], but the ref was not listening.
The match began to open up, and in the 20th minute a 3-on-2 break for LCFC was wasted, which would eventually prove to be costly as the final shot was chipped over. Both teams began to get some great chances, with Ranjitsingh making a pair of saves, with a Hoffman chance sandwiched between. Finally, in the 39th minute, a goal game…for the team in white. A free kick from midfield, again, came into the area, where Craig whiffed on the header. The ball fell to midfielder Andrew Wiedeman, who somehow was able to slip it past Ranjitsingh from six yards out, rolling it past him into the far post from a near impossible angle to put the hosts ahead 1-0. You could argue that he should not have been beaten from the angle, however the entire defense has to accept blame for an awful goal.
Louisville City had a chance to tie it up before the half, as Andrew Lubhan was taken down about 25 yards out on the left in stoppage time. However, Aodhan Quinn’s free kick curled into the side netting just beside the upper ninety, and it was 1-0 at the half for Cincinnati.
Early in the second half, Quinn was shown a yellow card, which gives him five on the season and will cause him to miss the next match. Louisville City began to press for the equalizer, and in the 53rd minute they nearly had it, but Guy Abend’s headed effort off a corner kick went just over the bar. A minute later, Derek Luke nearly doubled the lead for the hosts, but his curling effort from the edge of the area flashed just wide of the far post, much to Ranjitsingh’s relief.
O’Connor decided to go for it, and brought on Magnus Rasmussen and Mark-Anthony Kaye for Niall McCabe and Lubhan, who did not have a good match. Rasmussen immediately showed why he was so vital to last year’s success. Less than two minutes after coming in, he nearly tied the match with a rocket shot from thirty yards out. The shot was a low, driven shot that left the keeper helpless, but unfortunately for Louisville City, it rang off the left post and stayed out. It was a vital moment, because the ensuing counter-attack for FC Cincinnati would see their lead finally grow to two.
A corner kick saw Ranjitsingh come out for the ball—at least, that’s what it looked like—and was nowhere near where he should have been when Okoli rose above Quinn to snap it home with the head for a 2-0 lead. Once again, the defending was at fault. How Quinn was marking Okoli, the most dangerous player on the pitch for FC Cincinnati, in that situation is beyond a mystery.
With about fifteen minutes to play, Chandler Hoffman made way for Ilija Ilic, and aside from the one shot in the first half he was nearly invisible in this match. A few minutes later, Kaye would be the second player for LCFC to hit the frame. His shot from the top of the area curled over the keeper but hit the top of the bar and went out for a goal kick.
Both teams would have another few chances—including Wiedeman nearly scoring a second if not for a great diving save from Ranjitsingh—but as time winded down, it looked a lost cause for Louisville City. They had one final chance in stoppage time, but Mitch Hildebrandt came up with a great save to deny any hopes of at least denying a clean sheet.
In the end, the..announced crowd of over 20,000 (which was a bit of Enron math in my opinion) went home happy, save for those in purple. For Louisville City, this is only the second loss of the season through twenty matches, and thanks to a 3-2 loss by Sugar Free Red Bulls they are still sitting in first place in the East. However, the picture is now much muddier than before.
Louisville City has three matches in a row upcoming versus teams in the bottom five in the East, which means nine points are a must. Home matches with Orlando City B and Harrisburg, with a trip to Pittsburgh inbetween, must all be won before Rochester comes to town on August 13th. If they are not, the Eastern title might end up being all but out of reach.