After scoring first, TFC II fell short thanks to two goals by former MLS strikers.
Going into the match, TFC II didn’t know what to expect from the new USL club. They have only played four matches going into Sunday and this was going to be the first time these two faced off. FC Cincinnati came to the Ontario Soccer Centre looking to bounce back from a close encounter against Louisville City FC a week ago and brought with them some talented veteran players.
Cincinnati’s use of both experienced and non-experienced players gave them an edge over TFC II, but that wasn’t what it looked like early on. The young Reds controlled the match early, creating chances in the middle and not giving Cincinnati’s front three a lot of open spaces.
Throughout the first 45, TFC II looked like they could break down Cincinnati’s backline, but their pairing of former Chicago Fire defender Austin Berry and Delbride were able to make striker Shaan Hundal‘s day difficult. The 16-year-old was able to put in a good performance against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, but against Cincinnati’s big backline, he was unable to create a lot. “I thought he was very strong,” said TFC II head coach Jason Bent about Hundal’s performance.
“Ultimately he is a 16-year-old kid that is trying to be a pro. He will end up scoring goals. I don’t want to put so much pressure onto him because I think he is doing a great job, but ultimately strikers get paid to score goals.”
The match looked very close going into half time, until Raheem Edwards ran by two Cincinnati defenders and tucked his shot past a rushing Mitch Hildebrandt. This gave TFC II the spark they needed and gave Edwards his fourth goal in four games this season.
The young Reds went into the second half a goal up and boasted with confidence. All of that suddenly changed when former Toronto FC striker Andrew Wiedeman found the back of the net in the 59th minute to level the match at 1-1.
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After Wiedeman’s equalizer, Cincinnati seemed to have the upper hand, creating a lot of chances and not leaving TFC II with much to create. The young Reds would make a substution at the 61st minute, taking off TFC loanne Ashtone Morgan (who made his second start with TFC II) and brought in Sal Bernal. That lead to Edwards switching to a left wing back position, pushing up but also being aware of his defensive duties. “I know that took away from the attacking side of it, but we didn’t have another left back on the bench,” said Bent.
Bent also mentioned that Morgan suffered a little knock, but he looks to be okay.
After switching their formation around, TFC II would have a great opportunity denied later on by Hildebrandt, who made an astonishing diving save to deny Bernal of a goal and then get back up and stop a header from Bubacar Jobe.
That save might have given his side even more confidence, as former MLS striker Omar Cummings came on and scored what was seen as a controversial goal to put Cincinnati up by one in the 84th minute. After review, a cross to Cummings looks to roll up his leg and brush his hand. However, the ref didn’t seem to have a good view of the hand ball in the box and still awarded Cummings his first USL goal in his first appearance.
Bent offered what he thought about the late go ahead goal, saying it was a handball and that his team deserved at least a point. “I spoke to the player [Cummings], the player admitted it to me. What can you do, hopefully throughout the course of the season those things even out. It’s a tough blow for my players because I thought they put a hell of a lot of effort into that excerise today.”
Allowing a late goal would put any team’s confidence low, but the young Reds are showing that there are positives to take away. “We have good team spirit on and off the field. We are moving the ball quite well and it shows, and I think we’re progressing so much and the results are very, very close and I think we just have to learn how to finish a game and close it all for 90 minutes and we’ll be fine,” said TFC II captain Chris Mannella.
“I think we played a good first half. We kind of kept them off for a long time, even though they sustained a good amount of possession. We were organized behind the ball defensively,” said centre back Skylar Thomas.
“In the second half thing’s turned around and we didn’t do as well as we wanted to.”