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Opportunistic Sporting KC steals point at FC Cincinnati

Mar 17, 2019; Cincinnati, OH, USA; FC Cincinnati forward Darren Mattocks (11) celebrates after a goal against the Portland Timbers in the second half at Nippert Stadium in the inaugural home match for FCC. FCC defefated the Timbers 3-0. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

CINCINNATI — Darren Mattocks’ 19th-minute penalty was canceled out by a second-half defensive mix-up, and FC Cincinnati drew 1-1 with Sporting Kansas City on Sunday afternoon.

Looking to rebound from a disappointing loss to Philadelphia at home last weekend, FC Cincinnati started brightly. The Orange and Blue jumped out to an early lead from the penalty spot. Roland Lamah was judged to have been pulled down by Sporting’s Andreu Fontàs in the 17th minute. Mattocks stepped up and confidently slotted the ball into the right corner to give the hosts the lead. 

But after missing several chances to double their lead, FCC’s lead was wiped away in the 62nd minute.

Cincinnati goalkeeper Spencer Richey’s initial hesitation to leave his line on an opportunistic Sporting ball led to a miscommunication with teammate Greg Garza. That left 16-year-old Sporting midfielder Gianluca Busio with an open goal, and he tucked it inside the post from a narrow angle to level things 1-1.

“In the big picture… playing against a team like Sporting Kansas City, and for us, our sixth game together – to get a point, that’s satisfying,” offered coach Alan Koch after the game. “In the small picture, actually the individual game that we played today and how the game unfolded, our hope, our goal was to get three points. I think if we capitalized on more of our chances, we make it 1-0, we make it 2-0, the game may or may not be over at that time.”

A missed opportunity

The dropped points will be particularly frustrating for FC Cincinnati given the squad Sporting manager Peter Vermes selected for the match. Vermes’ side had just a three-day turnaround between Sunday’s MLS regular season match and Thursday’s 0-5 beatdown from Monterry in the Champions League. As a result, there were nine changes to Sporting KC’s starting XI against Cincinnati from the one selected in the midweek. And many of those getting the start on Sunday came from the periphery of the first team. 

Cincy were keen to take early advantage of any unfamiliarity within Sporting’s ranks.

Less than a minute in, Kenny Saief nearly gave the hosts the perfect start. A low driven cross from Allan Cruz found Saief in the middle, but he wasn’t able to steer his effort on frame. Not long after, Cincinnati would find themselves in the lead courtesy of Mattocks’ penalty. The Jamaican would nearly find the goal twice more before halftime, seeing one effort saved and another rattle the woodwork. 

Spared by the halftime whistle, Sporting came back out from the interval and established an immediate foothold in the game. Johnny Russell and Kelyn Rowe both were both just off target within ten minutes of the second half first kick. And a scramble just before the hour mark saw several golden opportunities go wasted. 

A moment later, FC Cincinnati would waste another chance of their own as Kekuta Manneh pushed a wide-open chance just right of the post. And as it turns out, all those missed chances would come back to haunt FCC when Sporting youngster Busio would equalize shortly thereafter. 

Taking the chances created

“It’s always frustrating when you’re leading in a game and you don’t get the three points”, Koch explained. “I think that when you’re 1-0 up and you create chances, if you don’t take your second chance, a lot of the time you leave teams in the game.”

Koch’s frustration was shared by his goal scorer. “We’re disappointed. We did a lot of positive things and created so many chances and maybe the next day we score four or five goals,” Mattocks shared. But the Jamaican was happy to see the increased chance creation as a positive, too.  

“That was a really big positive takeaway from this game. Because, you know, coming next week against the best team in MLS [speaking of LAFC] we’re going to need to be confident and take our chances.” 

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