The entire experience of watching FC Cincinnati take down the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Nippert Stadium would have felt less like sitting through my kid’s Christmas concert had I watched it last night instead of just an hour or two after watching the World Cup final, but I digress…
After a first half filled with the soccer equivalent of kids’ attention drifting, forgotten words and flat notes, FC Cincy took charge in the second half, and almost immediately. Cincinnati’s Corben Bone made a great case for game MVP (wait for it), throughout the second, but he started early with a pin-point cross to Emanuel Ledesma’s mysteriously elusive run. He nodded home that goal in the middle of 10+ minutes of steady pressure and increasing chaos in the Rowdies' defense. While it didn’t spin totally out of control, Tampa’s defense never recovered. In more ways than one, the Tampa Bay Rowdies played the kid who just stands there for the length of the concert, silently picking his nose while he stares at his parents. That’s with respect to Junior Flemmings, who did his damnedest to make the hosts earn it.
FC Cincinnati wouldn’t get its insurance goal until very, very near the end - that came in the 84th minute, when Emery Welshman dished a smooth pass to Danni Konig one thin minute after Welshman stepped onto the field - but Bone should have bought the policy 30 minutes earlier when he made himself a sitter that he bounced off the crossbar. And, as always, anyone who’s interested can see all the above in the highlights (or see it again), as well as picking through the United Soccer League’s random-access dog-pile of statistics at the Match Center for this game. Still, the story for this game was pretty simple: Cincinnati won it 2-0, and the only real question in play was whether or not they would score. Tampa battled hard, but also clumsily - by which I mean I’m calling bullshit on their (alleged) 66.2% passing accuracy, or questioning the methodology at the very least.
After that, there’s not much to say about this game, beyond cautioning anyone with even the slightest interest of doing so against watching that first half. After writing “10 minutes of dead air” around the 13th minute, I decided against writing “see above” at 10 minute intervals; the chuckleheads in the broadcast booth backed that up around the 35th minute when they noted that neither team had managed as many as five consecutive passes. FC Cincy got rolling, thank god, while Tampa Bay…well, see the kid picking his nose above, then add periodically smacking the heads of the children around him.