Oh, how often the final result of the beautiful game can come down to just one moment out of ninety minutes. Penn FC went toe-to-toe with the number one team in the East and, for the most part, managed to hold their ground. But one foul in the defensive third late in the second half quickly turned into a game winner for FC Cincinnati. It’s a particularly tough pill to swallow for Penn FC, as that’s now the second time this season that they’ve lost points as the result of a late free kick.
The match had the potential to go off the rails early as Penn FC’s Walter Ramirez ended up doing some unexpected dental work on Nazmi Albadawi. Ramirez had worked his way up the left side while Albadawi played tight on defense. Ramirez made a turn and his elbow swung out and clocked Albadawi in the mouth, busting his lip open and breaking a tooth. Albadawi had to come off a few times in the first half (and switch to a clean jersey) but Penn FC was unable to capitalize on these impromptu advantages.
Albadawi was happy to show off the results after the match.
3 points and a new smile!! pic.twitter.com/ghIPngBuML— Nazmi Albadawi (@NazmiAlbadawi) August 13, 2018
To Albadawi’s credit, the injury didn’t seem to slow him down much as he was still able to consistently harass the Penn FC defense. Danni Konig and Emmanuel Ledesma were also nuisances, but none could find a solid finish as Cincy only managed three shots in the half, none on goal. Penn FC gave up a lot of possession, but their chances came a bit closer to finding the back of the net. Isaac Osae had a dangerous opportunity inside the box, but he didn’t have a good angle and his attempt to send it to the near post resulted in him skying the ball over the crossbar.
Penn FC outshot Cincy 8-3 in the first half, which is encouraging for a team that had performed poorly in the first half over the last month. And they returned to the pitch in the second half with their usual display of renewed energy and strategy. However, they weren’t able to string together enough plays to put away a goal. In fact it was Cincy who seemed to be knocking on the door as the half went on. Ledesma nearly scored in the 56th minute, but he was denied by the goalpost. Romu Peiser made a brilliant stop on Russell Cicerone’s rebound to keep it level.
One of the game’s more intriguing storylines came into play in the 67th minute when Tommy Heinemann was subbed on for Osae. Tommy hadn’t appeared for Penn FC in two months, so it was far from certain that he’d be able to play against his “former team.” The pressure must have been on him to find the opening goal, but he didn’t try to force anything unnecessarily. In fact, he made several attempts to flick a ball on to Lucky Mkosana instead, but Lucky couldn’t get on the end of it.
As time ran out, a stalemate seemed like a possibility. It wasn’t until the 79th minute that Ken Tribbett picked up a yellow on a foul on Ledesma in a dangerous position in front of the goal. Ledesma stepped up to take it and his shot actually deflected off of Mkosana in the wall. Peiser had been tracking to his left and could only watch as the ball was redirected back to his right. It was Ledesma’s 10th USL goal of the season.
Penn FC had time to find the equalizer, but going down a goal so late put them at a real disadvantage. Cincy was able to bring on Fanendo Adi to sit back and try to spring a counter, which he nearly did several times. This kept Penn FC from putting everyone forward and it wore out the players who were hustling up and down the pitch looking for the equalizer. Ultimately there were a few late corners, but Cincy’s Forrest Lasso played a big part in making sure that the 1-0 scoreline would hold. A late foul in the box on Adi looked like it could have been a penalty, but the ref let it go a blew the final whistle instead.
- Penn FC is now halfway through their six match away stretch and they’ve only managed to get one point so far. They’re not completely out of the playoff race, but they’ll need to do much better during their upcoming matches against Richmond, Ottawa, and Bethlehem.
- Penn FC kept their shot count up, but their accuracy was what let them down. They had seven more shots in the second half and none were one goal.
- It’s good to see Tommy back on the pitch for Penn FC. The number of goals scored by Penn FC has been declining, and they could use someone like Tommy to help turn things around.