This will be a recap in three acts.
ACT I: The Calm Before the Storm
Harrisburg was able to bring a solid starting XI along to Cincinnati. Abass Mohammed was able to recover enough from Tuesday’s match in order to start again at left back. Appearing on the bench was Jason Plumhoff, who was officially signed by the City Islanders on Friday. Plumhoff returns to the team after having a solid rookie season for the City Islanders in 2015. Meanwhile, FC Cincinnati lined up in a 3-5-2 for this match. It’s a formation that they only use occasionally and one that Harrisburg hasn’t faced much this season.
The City Islanders were able to keep Cincy from finding a quick score, something I’d mentioned as a goal for the team in my preview. They even had a fair opportunity themselves when John Grosh sent a low bouncing shot that Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt was screened from at first. But once he got eyes on it, he scooped it up for the save.
Cincy showed flashes of danger as well. Djiby Fall nearly had a breakaway early on, but the pass to him was a bit too strong and Harrisburg goalkeeper Brandon Miller was able to come out to collect. But more important than the flashes of danger were the flashes of lightning. They approached within 8 miles of the stadium in the 27th minute, and both sides returned to the locker rooms.
ACT II: The Storm Before the Storm
Over an hour later, the teams were able to return to the pitch and resume the first half. With that much time off, it was almost like starting a whole new match. So Cincy decided that they would use this opportunity for a quick start to catch their opponents unprepared. As foreshadowed in Act I, Fall made a run on a errant back pass from Harrisburg. This time he was able to collect the ball inside the box, put a move on his defender, and send a left footed shot to the opposite corner where Miller had no chance to reach it. This smooth sequence was Fall’s 11th goal of the season.
Things are pretty even Steven in the first half of #CINvHAR... pic.twitter.com/wwBpsqCpTe— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) July 23, 2017
Harrisburg was still in the match when they returned from the half. As the stats showed, they had managed to hold their own for the first forty-five minutes, even with the extra delay. An equalizer nearly came in the 58th minute as Jaime Thomas was closing hard for the cross, but he couldn’t direct the ball towards the net. Miller did his part to keep the City Islanders in the match, shutting down opportunities by coming off his line to collect balls that were sent into the box. He also made a beautiful save on a Danni Konig shot in the 59th minute and followed that up by saving Andrew Wiedeman’s rebound shot.
FC Cincinnati was able to put another nail in the coffin the 70th minute, courtesy of Fall and Konig. Fall collected the ball with space, but Konig had been put in an offside position by Harrisburg. Fall had the patience to wait for Konig to get back onside before sending him a perfectly timed through pass that left Konig one-on-one with Miller. Konig was able to slip the ball under Miller, and Cincy extended their lead to two.
The delay and the deficit seemed to take a lot out of Harrisburg. Unfortunately for them, they weren’t finished with either. More lightning in the 83rd minute meant that the teams were sent back to the locker room once again, though only for a little more than half an hour this time.
ACT III: The Storm After the Storm
Upon returning, it was former City Islander Jimmy McLaughlin’s chance to find a goal. After collecting a pass from Kenney Walker, McLaughlin was able to work his way along the top of the box before finding space to bounce a shot just inside the far post. The 3-0 deficit was the worst of the season for the City Islanders.
Harrisburg didn’t have much time to find three goals, and they were ultimately unable to respond with even one. The belated final whistle blew at 10:41 pm, and Harrisburg left Nippert Stadium with a loss for the second straight season.
- Harrisburg will have some time off following the tough loss. Their next match isn’t scheduled until Wednesday, August 2nd. This should afford them a chance to rest and recover after a hectic stretch of play. It will also allow the teams below them on the table to burn through some of their games-in-hand and make the City Islanders’ playoff possibilities that much more clear.
- This match was a VAR test match, and it was Harrisburg’s second of the season to have VAR. But there weren’t any major tests for the system, as all of the calls were pretty straightforward.
- One statistic that I was not aware of that I nevertheless believed as soon as I heard it is that Harrisburg leads the league in fouls. They draw a lot of whistles as a side effect of their physical style of play. On a related note, Jaime Thomas received his eighth yellow card during the match, so he will be suspended for their next match against Orlando City B.