This historic season has reached an abrupt end.
FC Cincinnati (FCC), the No. 1 seed in the United Soccer League (USL) playoffs, was eliminated Saturday evening by No. 5 New York Red Bulls II with a final score of 1-0 at Nippert Stadium.
As time expired, Cincinnati players wept, and the Bailey section looked on in disbelief. The Orange and Blue had won each of the last three meetings with Red Bulls II.
The official attendance was 16,617 (season average at Nippert Stadium was 25,714).
The lone goal came in the 12th minute as New York forward Amando Moreno bounced a shot past the outstretched arms of FCC goalkeeper Spencer Richey and into the back of the net. Midfielder José Aguinaga was credited with an assist.
FCC obtained possession for 51.7 percent of the match, while New York won the shots category 14-to-11 and the shots-on-goal category 6-to-3.
Coming into the match, the Orange and Blue was riding the momentum of a 25-match unbeaten streak across all forms of competitions. The team finished the season with a 23-3-8 record.
“It’s difficult [losing the streak], because in this business, you don’t get very long or much time to reflect,” Cincinnati head coach Alan Koch said in a postgame news release. “I haven’t really reflected on the season yet. We spoke about this being a difficult pill to swallow right now. You can see the guys are very disappointed. But at the same time, you really have to look at the positives. This has been a historic season.”
FCC midfielder Jimmy McLaughlin stole possession away from New York as time wound down in extra time. McLaughlin passed across the field to defender Justin Hoyte, who crossed it toward the box in the hopes of a late goal. Defender Forrest Lasso attempted a header at close range but was denied by Evan Louro, New York’s goalkeeper.
Richey saved five shots for the second consecutive match, tying his FCC single-game high. Lasso led all players with 10 clearances, bringing his season total to 223.
The next time the Orange and Blue will take the field will be as a member of Major League Soccer (MLS), the country’s top professional league, in 2019.
During the upcoming offseason, FCC management will decide which personnel will remain with the organization for next season’s jump in competition.
“It’s a difficult situation, of course,” Koch said. “It’s part of the game. You just have to hug everyone and give your good wishes and let them understand that football is this way. I think what the team achieved this year, everyone is happy. If you stay or if you don’t stay, you’ve achieved something very big. So, you should be very happy. Whoever stays or whoever goes, we’re going to just have a dinner together and talk together and laugh together and get ready for the next chapter.”