FC Cincinnati claimed an important 2-1 victory over Saint Louis FC in front of a crowd of 17,145 at Nippert Stadium on Monday afternoon. Sean Okoli scored both goals for the first year club in the Labor Day matchup.
Saint Louis FC was without leading goalscorer Irvin Herrera and starting goalkeeper Ryan Thompson. Both players were away from the Western Conference club on international duty.
FC Cincinnati dominated the game in most statistical categories through 84 minutes, but could not find a goal to complement their good play. The match remained goalless through the first half and that stalemate held for most of the second.
A breakthrough came for the home side with six minutes remaining in the match. Following an attack that formed down FC Cincinnati’s right side, Sean Okoli redirected an Andrew Wiedeman header past Saint Louis FC goalkeeper Mark Pais from close range to open the scoring.
The Missouri side was not to be outdone though and equalized in the blink of an eye. A long throw-in from Saint Louis FC’s left side was contested in the box and fell to defender Patrick Doody. The Chicago Fire loanee drove a low shot on goal which found the back of the net through traffic. Saint Louis FC had equalized, and it appeared the points would be shared as the match reached 90 minutes.
The win was secured by FC Cincinnati in dramatic fashion when Okoli thumped home a stoppage time penalty kick to secure all three points for the home side. The penalty kick was awarded for a handball in the box against Saint Louis FC defender James Musa in the 93rd minute of play.
Coach John Harkes made the following comments in the press conference after the match, emphasizing the importance of the fans in Monday’s victory. “The fan base actually pushed us on today. It’s unlike anything else in the league. It doesn’t matter about the quantity but about the quality of the fans. It drives the guys. It is fantastic. It really is.” [FC Cincinnati]
The win halts a recent poor run of form for the upstart Cincinnati club, who had only one win in the past six games prior to this contest. The team secured a playoff berth on August 27th, and now has four games left to earn one of the top four positions in the USL’s Eastern Conference. Obtaining one of those spots will secure them at least one home playoff game. Saint Louis FC will have to look elsewhere for a cure to their ailments, as they continue to languish near the bottom of the Western Conference.
Photo credit: Orange and Blue Press