FC Cincinnati Advances to Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in Club History
By: Neil Meyer
This evening FC Cincinnati knocked off the Philadelphia Union 1-0 in front of a sold out 25,513 crowd to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in club history. The Orange and Blue did so with key contributors Matt Miazga (Yellow Card Suspension), Obinna Nwobodo (injury) unavailable for this match.
The Orange and Blue were also without defender Nick Hagglund who is recovering from hamstring surgery after sustaining the injury in the opening round of the playoffs in FC Cincinnati's win over the New York Red Bulls back on November 4th.
However, Pat Noonon indicated after the match that he is optimistic that Nwobodo will be available for the Orange and Blue in the Eastern Conference Finals match vs Columbus Crew next Saturday. Miazga will also be back for the Orange and Blue as he finished serving his one game yellow card suspension, both will be huge lifts for the Orange and Blue on the back line.
How it Happened
The Orange and Blue set the tone early as they did a great job controlling the time of possession as they controlled possession for nearly 60% of the first half. The Orange and Blue had quite a few opportunities to make some noise in the early minutes of this one as they saw five shots on goal in the first half, as well as five corner kicks. However, the Orange and Blue just couldn't covert on the early set piece opportunities in the first half.
However, the Orange and Blue did a tremendous job at eliminating the Union's offense from finding their stride as they held them to just one shot on goal in the first half behind stellar defensive play from Yuyu Kubo, who filled in for Nwobodo, as well as Ian Murphy, Yerson Mosquera, Alvaro Barreal, Ray Gaddis and Alvas Powell.
Despite the score being 0-0 at the intermission, the Orange and Blue looked to create some opportunities to kick off the second half as they could sense that this was going to be a hard-fought battle all the way to the end. However, this match would start to get chippy in the second half after Union star midfielder Jose Martinez went down with an injury after a hard foul from Aaron Boupendza in the 76th minute and was forced to leave the match.
However, Philadelphia head athletic trainer Paul Rushing was booked for the yellow card for time wasting as the Union medical staff helped Martinez off the field.
However, Pat Noonon knew he would have to sue his subs wisely tonight with two Miazga and Nwobodo both unavailable, he made the call to sub in Dom Badji in the 88th minute for Aaron Boupendza. Badji would come on and look to help lead the Orange and Blue in spite of a last second effort ahead of stoppage time.
However, the match would be tied up at 0-0 as they added nine minutes of stoppage time for the injuries that occurred in the second half of this one. That is when things quickly change in favor of the Orange and Blue.
The Orange and blue would take advantage of the free kick by Badji, before a foul by Union defender Damion Lowe give the Orange and Blue the free kick opportunity. That is when Badji dropped one off to Alvaro Barreal in space, who connected on a beautiful ball into the box where Ian Murphy laid a beautiful header in as spot where only Yerson Mosquera could play it, and the rest is history.
Mosquera would connect as he fired a laser off his right foot that found the back of the net in the fourth minute of stoppage time. However, the goal would go to VAR for a potentially offside penalty on Murphy, but upon review there was no evidence of being offside and the goal would stand and be the difference maker this evening at TQL Stadium.
The Orange and Blue now get the opportunity to avenge their 3-0 loss to Columbus Crew in a bigger version of the "Hell Is Real" match. FC Cincinnati now advances to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in club history. The match will kick off next Saturday at 6pm at TQL Stadium.