CARY, N.C. (June 9, 2018) – North Carolina FC held its own against the league leaders, but ultimately fell 2-0 to FC Cincinnati Saturday night at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
“We played some good stuff – passed it, moved it against a good team – and opened them up, created chances,” NCFC head coach Colin Clarke said. “In front of goal, we weren’t good enough tonight. In front of our goal, we weren’t good enough in big moments, and that’s the difference in the game right there.”
NCFC dominated the early proceedings in terms of possession and chances created. In the opening 15 minutes, NCFC recorded five shots, with the best opportunities coming on a Marcel Kandziora effort in the fourth minute from the top of the 18-yard box, and a strike from Donovan Ewolo in the 15th minute.
Despite an excellent save by goalkeeper Alex Tambakis on a shot by Russell Cicerone, the visitors opened the scoring in the 37th minute, as Danni Konig tracked down the rebound and headed it in.
Right before the conclusion of the first half, NCFC nearly equalized through an on-target header by Daniel Rios that came thanks to a curling cross from Steven Miller, but the Mexican forward saw his effort turned away at the last second by Cincinnati goalkeeper Evan Newton.
Out of the halftime break, NCFC was on the front foot and got into a rhythm offensively, often getting creative in the final third and putting Cincinnati’s defense under pressure.
Off of a partially cleared corner kick in the 63rd minute, Graham Smith played in a precise cross that fell to Ewolo, whose one-timer rolled just wide of the left post.
It was that type of night for NCFC, which consistently threatened but never could find the back of the net despite putting itself in positions to do so. In the 83rd minute, it was Rios who once again knocked on the door, this time with a pace-filled effort that was turned away by Newton.
Cincinnati added one final goal in the 87th minute from Jimmy McLaughlin as the second-half sub collected a rebound and tapped in the goal from a few yards out to bring the game to its final score.
North Carolina FC will remain at home as it welcomes Ottawa Fury FC to Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park on Wednesday, June 13 at 7 p.m. The night will bring an early start to Father’s Day, with a ticket special that includes a dad hat available for purchase. Tickets are available online, over the phone at 919-459-8144 or in person at the Coastal Credit Union Box Office.
Rios’ last great chance, the 83rd-minute sizzler, nearly brought NCFC even against the Eastern Conference’s top team. However, Newton managed to get in front of it, as NCFC once again almost found a way past the Cincinnati goalkeeper.
NCFC outshot Cincinnati 20-12.
– The team Cincinnati fielded was full of connections to Raleigh and NCFC. The most obvious one, former NCFC standout Nazmi Albadawi started for the visitors in his first trip back to Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park, his home park for the first four seasons of his professional career. Raleigh native and Needham Broughton High School alum, Forrest Lasso, also earned a start at center back for Cincinnati, and former NCFC U-23 standout and Wake Forest star Corben Bone came on as a second-half substitute.
– Midfielder Kyle Bekker and forward Marios Lomis each entered the game as substitutes in the 63rd minute. Midfielder Tiyi Shipalane came on as NCFC’s final sub in the 79th minute.
– Forward Daniel Rios led NCFC with three shots on target.
NCFC (4-4-2): Alex Tambakis; Peabo Doue, Michael Harrington, Connor Tobin, DJ Taylor; Austin da Luz © (Tiyi Shipalane, 79’), Marcel Kandziora (Kyle Bekker,65’), Graham Smith, Steven Miller; Daniel Rios, Donovan Ewolo (Marios Lomis, 65’)
Subs not used: Austin Guerrero, Dre Fortune, Aaron Guillen, Wuilito Fernandes
CIN (4-4-2): Evan Newton; Justin Hoyte, Paddy Barrett, Forrest Lasso, Blake Smith; Richie Ryan ©, Mike Lahoud (Corben Bone, 61’), Russell Cicerone (Jimmy McLaughlin, 74’), Nazmi Albadawi; Emmanuel Ledesma, Danni Konig (Emery Welshman, 82’)
Subs not used: Mark Village, Matt Bahner, Sam De Wit, Will Saymore
CIN: Danni Konig (Unassisted, 36’), Jimmy McLaughlin (Unassisted, 87’)
CIN: Emmanuel Ledesma 26’, Danni Konig 53’, Justin Hoyte 72’