USL Cup 2018: FC Cincinnati versus NY Red Bulls II.

USL EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS! Our number one seeded FC Cincinnati was playing host to the fifth seed baby Bulls of New York…

HERE WE GO!

At halftime, it was 1-0 New York Red Bulls II…

And after a very frustrating second half with very few chances created, the match would end 1-0 to NY Red Bulls…

With today’s loss, FC Cincinnati saw its 2018 season come to an end. It was a great season for FC Cincinnati. They went on an unbelievable undefeated run that spanned FC|C’s last 23 games of the regular season, and last 25-games overall. The undefeated streak began all the way back on June 2 and also included draws in the club’s US Open Cup fourth-round match against MLS’ Minnesota United (0-0, 4-1 loss in PKs) and last week’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinal against Nashville SC (0-0, 6-5 win in PKs). FC Cincy posted a regular-season record of 23-3-8 with 77 points. They set USL records for regular-season wins, longest undefeated streak and most points. And they were crowned USL regular season champions. It was a pretty amazing season.

But all good things have to come to an end. I would much rather have them get knocked out in the conference semi-finals by Red Bulls than rival Louisville City in the conference finals. Or for them to make it to the USL Cup final only to lose that match. Hopefully, they’ll keep getting better and better players and will be competitive next season in MLS. We’ll just have to wait and see. 😀⚽️🏆❤️

FC Cincinnati versus Indy Eleven.

IT’S FC CINCINNATI MATCH DAY SEVENTEEN! Tonight was the final USL regular-season home game for our FC Cincinnati. Their next home match will be the opening round of USL Cup 2018. And after that, they’ll move on to MLS.

FC|C can tie the current USL record for consecutive matches undefeated with a win or a draw tonight. With our soon to be collector’s item tickets in hand, we headed out to Nippert Stadium to watch our FC Cincy take on Indy Eleven…

I just missed the team photo…

HERE WE GO…

It was 1-0 FC|C at the half, and that means… SPRINKLES!

Sprinkles had a new friend but I didn’t catch what his name was…

AND THERE’S THE FULL-TIME WHISTLE! 3-0 to FC|C!

And FC Cincinnati tied the USL record for most consecutive matches without a defeat at 22 in a row! The players celebrated while a small stage was set up for an onfield post-match ceremony with the presentation of some silverware for our USL regular season champions…

WHAT A NIGHT! FC Cincinnati plays away to Nashville SC next Saturday in the final match of the regular season. As regular season champions, FC Cincinnati gets home-field advantage throughout USL Cup 2018. Their first playoff match will be on Saturday, October 20th right here at Nippert Stadium. 😀⚽️🏆❤️

FC Cincinnati versus Toronto FC II.

IT’S FC CINCINNATI MATCH DAY SIXTEEN! The Cincinnati Bearcats had their home opener last night, thumping Alabama State 63-7. And that meant the soccer match would be of the rare Sunday variety. Here’s a really cool time-lapse of the Nippert Stadium conversion process from football to soccer. Today, our first place FC Cincinnati was taking on last-place Toronto FC 2. You’d think this would be an easy three points. But when FC|C played away at Toronto, Cincy squandered a 3-1 lead to walk away with only a point from a 3-3 draw. We were hoping they learned their lesson and could take care of business this time at home…

FC Cincinnati came out wearing Cincy Shirt’s Cincy Strong t-shirts after the tragedy that took place in our great city on September 6, 2018.

FC Cincinnati honored the brave first responders on the field before the match

Here we go…

GOAL! FC Cincinnati! Manu Ledesma found the head of Forrest Lasso off a free kick to tie the game at 1-1. Here’s another look

GOAL!! FC CINCINNATI!! And Adi tied the match back up at 2-2 after another gorgeous ball from Manu. Here’s the best view ever of this gem

And the first half would end with the game knotted at 2-2…

And that meant it was time for…

SPRINKLES!

And we’re back underway…

GOAL!!! FC CINCINNATI! Corben Bone was played through by Jimmy…

GOAL!!!! FC CINCINNATI! Corden Bone added a second in the 88th minute…

A crowd of 27.275 turned out to cheer on FC|C on this Sunday afternoon…

The match would end 4-3 to FC Cincinnati

With the win, FC|C extended their unbeaten streak to 18 matches. And the next home match will be the last-ever home regular season USL match for the club before they make their highly anticipated jump to MLS next season. We’ll see you there! 😀⚽️❤️

FC Cincinnati versus Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

IT’S FC CINCINNATI MATCH DAY FIFTEEN! Our first place FC Cincinnati was taking on third place Pittsburgh Riverhounds. We stopped at Mac’s Pizza Pub before the match. We always do. They have a gameday special with a small two-topping pizza for just $5. And their pizza is delicious…

And then it’s onto Nippert Stadium…

I took most of these photos with my new Samsung Galaxy Note9. The others I took with my Polaroid CUBE+. I’ve been pretty impressed with the Note9 as a phone and the phone’s camera overall is pretty outstanding. But it definitely doesn’t zoom capabilities of my old Samsung Galaxy S camera. It has the best zoom I’ve ever seen. When you zoom with the Note9, the photos start to get a little fuzzy…

Oh well. HERE WE GO…

At the half, the match was still knotted at 0-0. That meant it was time for… SPRINKLES!!!

And we’re back underway…

Pittsburgh jumped out to 1-0 lead…

GOAL! FC CINCINNATIFC Cincinnati leveled the match at 1-1Manu found Dekel Keinan’s head off a free kick to tie the game…

And then FC Cincinnati’s first MLS designated player signing, Fanendo Adi gave FC|C a 2-1 lead with his first goal for the club. And after scoring he ran straight to FC Cincy head coach, Alan Koch to pick him up with a huge bear hug…

Adi scoring his first goal and running to hug Coach Koch will definitely be one of the most memorable moments of this season for me. I keep missing the match attendance but I saw afterward that there were 25,735 at tonight’s match

The match ended 2-1 with FC|C extending their undefeated streak to 16 games

With the win, FC Cincinnati clinched a spot in the USL Playoffs…

FC|C is the first team this season to clinch a spot in the postseason. After the match, we grabbed at Uber to Higher Gravity to celebrate the win with a beer and a slice of pizza and some No-no BBQ Wings from Northside’s Chameleon Pizza…

You can’t beat that for a Saturday evening, an FC|C comeback win, clinching a spot in the playoffs and two different types of pizza. It was a good day. 😀🍕⚽️🍕❤️

At some point, I’d like to go watch a Pittsburgh Riverhounds home match. Their stadium seems really unique. It’s right on the river and in between the stadium and their river are train tracks. We’ve watched FC|C play away to Riverhounds and you’ll be watching the match and then a train will come speeding by seemingly out of nowhere. I’m also hoping that they have a hot dog called the Riverdog. Because if they don’t it’s really a missed opportunity. maybe next summer, we’ll be able to take a road trip to Pittsburgh.

 

FC Cincinnati versus Nashville SC.

IT’S FC CINCINNATI MATCH DAY TWELVE! We missed the Wednesday night win against the Charlotte Independence. Those Wednesday night matches make for a really long rest of the week. We also missed FC|C’s win against the New York Red Bulls II two Saturdays ago because of my hip revision surgery. But we made it to last Saturday’s international Friendly against RCD Espanyol. And tonight, FC Cincinnati was hosting the other soon-to-be-an-MLS-team, Nashville SC…

Before the match, we stopped at Chicago Gyros & Dogs in Clifton for lunch…

And a $5 bucket of the Champagne of Beers, Miller High Life…

This is the first time we’ve actually eaten at Chicago Gyros & Dogs. Chicago Gyros & Dogs has become our go-to place whenever we order food from UberEats. It’s so good. And they’re the only place I’ve found that will deliver me delicious corn dogs whenever I want. And I love corn dogs. When we were getting ready to head over to the Nippert Stadium, the sky looked like this…

Come to find out, the match was on a lightning delay. And kick-off was pushed back until 8:30pm so we went to Mac’s to have a beer and watch some of the Red’s baseball game. Eventually, we headed over to Nippert Stadium when game time finally rolled around…

We were walking into Nippert right as the match was kicking off…

And it was a dream start for FC Cincinnati! Danni Konig scored the fastest goal in FC|C history by finding the back of the net in the FIRST MINUTE of the match!

And a quick video snippet of the atmosphere at Nippert Stadium and me trying in vain to get JimmyMcLaughlin to wave at us as he warmed up…

At halftime, FC|C still had a 1-0 lead over Nashville…

SPRINKLES!

Midweek FC Cincinnati signed their first MLS Designated Player, Fanendo Adi. Adi hails from Lagos, Nigeria, and scored 54 goals in 126 games in four seasons with the Portland Timbers. From the FC Cincinnati website

Adi originally came to Portland in May 2014 as a Designated Player on loan from FC Copenhagen, scoring nine goals and adding four assists in 24 games in his debut MLS season. Portland later completed the transfer and he then scored back-to-back 16-goal seasons in 2015 and 2016. In 2017, he registered his third-straight season with double-digit goals with 10, despite being sidelined the final two months of the year with injury.

With Copenhagen, Adi drew UEFA Champions League experience with group-stage appearances against Juventus, Real Madrid and Galatasaray.

And tonight Fanendo Adi made his FC|C debut coming on as a sub in the 72nd minute for the goal-scorer, Danni Konig…

I just missed the attendance again. It was announced that there was a crowd of 27,426  were at tonight’s match…

And the match would end in a 1-1 draw

FC Cincinnati’s next home match is next Sunday, August 11th at 6pm against Penn FC. So we’ll probably end up skipping that one, and just watching the match on TV. If it was an early game on Sunday like 2pm or even 4pm, we’d probably go. But we need to get ready for our week and that’s just too late for us to be running around on a Sunday evening.

Looking at the calendar, I think we’re also going to miss the match on Saturday, August 18th against Charleston Battery because we’ll be in Michigan. We’ll be sure to take one of our Chromecast and a couple of tablets with us to Michigan so we can stream that match through ESPN+ as well.

But thankfully, there’s a home game almost every Saturday for the entire summer. So it looks like the next match we’ll be able to make it to will be on Saturday, September 1st against Pittsburgh Riverhounds. We’ll see you at Nippert! 😀⚽️❤️

INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY: FC Cincinnati versus RCD Espanyol.

IT’S FC CINCINNATI MATCH DAY! But not just any match day, it’s international friendly match day. And just like last year, FC Cincinnati was playing host to another team from Spain’s top flight, La Liga. This year it happened to be RCD Espanyol all the way from Barcelona…

international-friendly.jpg

We stopped at Mac’s Pizza Pub before the match for some, er… pizza…

And then we headed over to Nippert to watch the friendly…

We were really liking Espanyol’s yellow kit…

HERE WE GO!

GOAL! FC CINCINNATI! FC|C grabbed the 1-0 lead in just the fifth minute…

It was a really pretty night for soccer…

My favorite FC|C Player, Justin Hoyte was warming up…

Espanyol leveled the match at one all…

At halftime, it was still 1-1. Instead of getting to see Sprinkles, FC|C put on some complete and total cheeseball “Cincinnati, Welcome to MLS” celebration at halftime…

It was pretty embarrassing. We stopped watching about halfway through…

And then mercifully, we were back to our regularly scheduled international friendly with RCD Espanyol…

There was a surprisingly small crowd of 16,135 at tonight’s match…

But to be fair, there was a music festival downtown that I hear drew over 90,000 people over the weekend. There was also Reds’ Votto giveaway followed by a free Walk the Moon concert at GABP, And there was Man United Versus Liverpool in Ann Arbor. It was one of those weekends where there was a ton of fun stuff going on.

GOAL!! FC CINCINNATI!! FC|C tied the game at two-all in the 76th minute. Manu Ledesma scored another incredible highlight reel goal

The match ended 3-2 to RCB Espanyol. It was a surprisingly good match with FC|C holding their own against the Spanish side…

After the match, we were surprised by just how many players were wearing sports bras under their jerseys…

Like I said, it was a good game and a pretty fun night. But the most fun international friendly was still the very first one against Crystal Palace just because we’ve seen them play a bunch on TV and knew a lot of the players. I wonder if there will be an international friendly next season when they are in MLS? And if so, will it be an even more notable team? I guess we’ll have to wait and see… 😀🇺🇸⚽️🇪🇸❤️

FC Cincinnati versus Tampa Bay Rowdies.

IT’S FC CINCINNATI MATCH DAY NINE! We missed the last home match against Ottawa Fury a couple of Saturday’s ago because it was the day after my second hip surgery. And I wasn’t going much of anywhere. We just watched the match on TV. FC|C beat Ottawa 2-0 on goals by Danni König and Nazmi Albadawi. We also missed post-match FC|C fireworks. Bummer. And Emmanuel Ledesma was named USL Player of the Month for June. Tonight, FC Cincinnati was playing host to Tampa Bay Rowdies. They’ve never beaten the Rowdies.  I was still a little bit sore but I was moving pretty well so we decided to give the match a try tonight…

HERE WE GO…

At halftime, it was still knotted 0-0. And that meant it was time for… SPRINKLES!

And the second half is underway…

GOAL! FC CINCINNATI! In the 54th minute, Emmanuel Ledesma gave FC|C a 1-0 lead!

GOAL!! FC CINCINNATI! Danni König doubled FC Cincinnati’s lead to 2-0 in the 85th minute to tack on an insurance goal late on!

It wasn’t announced at the match but tonight’s attendance was 25,416. The match would end 2-0 to FC Cincinnati. And for the first time FC|C defeated Tampa Bay!

With the win, FC Cincinnati remains on top of the USL Eastern Conference! 😀⚽️❤️

FC Cincinnati versus Richmond Kickers.

IT’S FC CINCINNATI MATCH DAY SEVEN! Tonight, FC Cincinnati was playing host to struggling Richmond Kickers. Coming into tonight’s match FC|C was sitting atop the USL Eastern Conference and Richmond was hanging out in thirteenth place…

HERE WE GO…

GOAL! 1-0 FC CINCINNATIAnd Emmanuel Ledesma‘s goal turned out to also be the winner of Week 14 USL Goal of the Week!

GOAL! 2-0 FC CINCINNATI

At halftime, it was 2-0 FC Cincinnati!

SPRINKLES!

Sprinkles saved some little kids penalty and made him cry. Later, we saw Sprinkles walk by on the concourse…

GOAL! 3-0 FC CINCINNATI

We moved down to the end FC|C was attacking, and were instantly rewarded…

GOAL! 4-0 FC CINCINNATI! Manu Ledesma with his second of the game!

And that’s how the match ended, 4-0 to FC Cincinnati…

USOC18: FC Cincinnati versus Minnesota United FC.

IT’S US OPEN CUP MATCH DAY ROUND 4! But first a little diatribe…

With much fanfare and back-patting, it was announced last Tuesday that FC Cincinnati is officially MLS expansion bound. They will finish the rest of this season in USL. And next season, FC|C will make their highly anticipated jump to the “big league.”

Let it be known, I’m not a fan of MLS. Not one bit. I think it’s a mediocre product with too many teams. It all has a very corporate, manufactured feel. Yet it’s next to impossible to find an MLS match on TV, making it really difficult to follow any team. So I’m not super excited about this FC|C to MLS news at all. I remember when it was first announced that Cincinnati was getting a USL soccer team. I was beyond excited. I loved the fact that they were in USL even though I didn’t know much about what the USL was, how many teams there were or really much of anything. I knew it was the second or third division and that was awesome. I was excited. For me, the fact that they were a lower division team sweetened the pot. There’s something about cheering for the little guy. And then we went to the first FC Cincinnati match at Nippert Stadium and they had me, hook, line, and sinker. It was all so magical. Not far into the inaugural season, talk of jumping to MLS kept getting louder and louder. Talks of soccer-specific stadiums. And I could feel my enthusiasm starting to waver little by little. In my opinion, it would be really hard to improve on any great number of things in regards to the club. I think it would be pretty easy for the experience to take a nose-dive. FC|C had a really good thing going in USL. They’re the big fish in a relatively small pond. More than likely by moving to MLS, they’ll just be another midmarket team in a vast ocean of competitiveness. Their impressive USL attendance numbers will put them near the bottom of the top ten in MLS. It’s doubtful they’ll even rank in the top ten once they move into their new 21,000 seat soccer-specific-stadium in the West End neighborhood of Cincinnati.

To me, the only good news that came out of MLS expansion announcement was that the team will play its first two seasons of MLS soccer at Nippert Stadium while their new soccer-specific stadium is being built. My biggest concern is right off the bat with the move to MLS is ticket prices. Are we still going to be able to afford our season tickets next year?  USL Season ticket prices are relatively affordable. Are MLS season ticket prices going to affordable as well? Probably not with the seats we’ve had the last three seasons. But perhaps if we moved to cheaper seats. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Tonight, we paid $30 a seat to watch a US Open Cup match that was one the most lackluster soccer games I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Remember last season’s US Open Cup run when FC|C played Columbus Crew and there was so much excitement? Or when they played Chicago Fire and the ecstasy of winning that shootout? I still get goosebumps thinking about the electricity that crackled through Nippert Stadium leading up to the match against New York Red Bulls. There was none of that tonight. Just a future MLS expansion team against a former MLS expansion team who currently sit in ninth place out of twelve teams in their conference. All I could think the whole match was, is this a precursor to what we have to look forward to next season?

At the half, it was nil-nil…

Sprinkles didn’t even bother coming to this match. Second half…

And at the end of 90 minutes, it was still 0-0…

At the end of the first 15 minute extra time, you guessed it 0-0…

And at the end of the second 15 extra time, still 0-0…

On to the penalty kick shootout…

I recorded the entire shootout in case something awesome happened…

And it did not. FC Cincinnati lost the shootout 3-1. I hope I’m wrong about MLS2Cincy. But this is what I imagine all the matches to be like next season when FC Cincinnati jump to MLS. Boooooooring. Maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised. All I know is that I’m going to enjoy the final season of USL soccer in Cincinnati and deal with MLS and all the nonsense it brings with it later. 😐⚽️❤️

UPDATE: I just discovered that for $5/month you can watch all the USL and MLS matches live through ESPN+ on the ESPN app. Done and done.

FC Cincinnati versus North Carolina FC.

IT’S FC CINCINNATI MATCH DAY FOUR!

Midweek FC Cincinnati defeated Detroit City FC 4-1 in the second round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Tonight, FC|C was playing host to North Carolina FC. Just like Atlanta United 2 two weeks ago, NCFC are also USL new boys. NCFC were formerly the Carolina RailHawks of the NASL before making the switch to USL. It turned out to be a pretty night for soccer…

HERE WE GO!

1-0 FC CINCINNATI!

At the half, it was 2-0 FC Cincinnati! Both goals were scored by Nazmi Albadawi, who just happened to be featured on tonight’s season tickets

Here’s Nazmi’s second goal again in slow-motion. And speaking of slow-motion…

SPRINKLES!

PENALTY TO FC CINCINNATI! 3-0

Tonight’s announced match attendence was 22, 884 um… hmmm…

Hello friends…

We spotted this guy in the crowd wearing a Kalamazoo College t-shirt…

FC Cincinnati’s Danni Konig added a fourth for FC|C before being subbed…

FINAL WHISTLE! The match ended in a 4-1 win for FC Cincinnati.

What a night! Great game. Great 3 points! FC Cincinnati stays atop the USL Eastern Conference. Next, FC Cincinnati will travel to Pittsburgh for a tough midweek US Open Cup match against the Riverhounds. And then they’re back home at Nippert Stadium next Saturday for another huge clash against rivals Louisville City in a first place versus second place showdown. We’ll see you next Saturday at Nippert! 😀⚽️❤️