As it says on the sculpture commemorating Cincinnati's original professional baseball team in downtown Cincy..."veni, vidi, vici". We Came. We saw. We conquered.
Why that phrase is associated with the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings baseball team - and enshrined in marble outside the Reds stadium, I don't know.
But I like the phrase, so I'm stealing it. Just like we stole those 3 points.
We started the weekend with an early morning flight from DCA --> CVG. By my count there was 7 of us DCU fans on the flight... all rocking the Black and Red. In total, the journey was about 1,000 miles round trip; a relatively short MLS journey. Makes me laugh to think about all the fans back in the UK that brag about their followings away from home.
The day leading up to kickoff was something like I hadn't experienced at the club level in America. Having never been to Cincinnati, it was a pleasant surprise. Most local businesses had FC Cincinnati flags hanging, and orange and blue shirts could be seen from very early in the morning. You could tell it was gameday. Not only did the aesthetics show you so - but the people made sure they told you. We had store owners tell us how badly FCC needed a result, and strangers come up to make conversation about the game... including homeless people.
The bars were plenty, and plenty packed - which made for a great pre-match pub crawl. And to their credit, the FCC 'March to the Match' was fun to witness. Being on the Kentucky border, it felt like a mixture between an SEC American football pre-game, and a British soccer game... in a good way.
But can I say one thing? Cincinnati Chili is just Spaghetti Bolognese with cheese instead of tomato sauce. Not that that's bad - that's just what it is.
As we entered the stadium we found the "away section", which was really just a normal section with ~20 DCU fans mixed with families. Most of us thought the away fan setup to be a little strange... but we made due and made it our own.
By kickoff the stadium was pretty much full, including FCC's standing section. IMO, the crowd played a pretty big factor during the game. I think we can all admit the DCU performance wasn't amazing; however, to get a win in front of that away crowd is a very solid result... no matter how bad Cincy may or may not be.
Early on, DCU could have scored twice. On both occasions, Smith and Flores struck with their favored left foot instead of opening up and shooting with their non-dominant right. In Smith's case, he did receive a slight tug on the shoulder (if he went down he probably would've won a penalty) - and he forced the keeper into a save. Unfortunately for Flores, he was unable to work the keeper when 1v1. I don't expect Flores to score in every 1v1 scenario; however, he must hit the target from that range. A $5million attacking player has to do better there. Luckily for us, the moment turned out to be insignificant in the end.
Other than those chances, DCU weren't particularly dangerous moving forward. Similar to the Charlotte game, we lacked a midfield that could control play and distribute. While Estrada is good with the ball at his feet, I'm not sure if he's going to be the type of striker to create his own chances. Without some help from the midfield, he may struggle. Djeffal has now shown twice that he can be creative moving forward - I'd be interested to see him for a full 90 minutes and if he can change our look.
Defensively, I'm still worried... except for at the GK position. Bill Hamid had a GREAT game, and for me, was Man of the Match. DCU continue to give up shots; 27 shots against and 11 shots against on target - through 2 games. That isn't great... but at least the opponent's chances are coming from tight-ish angles. This is giving Bill a fighting chance; however, one of these days a good finisher will bury some of those. With a different keeper, we lose that game. Not only were Bill's saves top class - but his presence alone made the difference. Those punches on corner kicks late in the match were HUGE. Command presence at the back is something you don't always appreciate or know that you have until its gone. Let's continue to appreciate Bill for the rock that he is.
The other player to standout watching the game live was Brad Smith. He was everywhere; seemingly tireless. He was especially important after going down to ten men, as he was able to push the ball into FCC territory and win throw-ins along that left side... killing a lot of clock and breaking up the Cincy attack.
In regards to the handball. From our section, it looked like a handball. But the only person to agree seemed to be Kamara. Now that I've seen the replay, it was a clear handball. Clean penalty from Kamara (who had a very strong game) - and that's all she wrote - except for one last giant save from Bill.
Understandably, the FCC fans were furious and we got some choice words on the way out... but I understand their pain. From their view, a man-up and creating all the chances... they had no business losing that game. Maybe they are right; however, Cincy didn't take their chances. DCU also seemed like they were in better fitness, which showed in stoppage time.
Did our players play better than FCC's players? I would say no.
Was our team and system more effective than their individual efforts? Definitely yes.
Say what you want about talent, unfinished roster, etc. Losada is showing that he can manage and his team understands how to get results. It's early. And a win on the road in a hostile environment is a good win! Stealing points away from home is a sign of a good group.
Excited to get the 3 points. An awesome weekend with the DCU faithful in a new city. See everyone at Buzzard Point on Saturday.
Be on the lookout for a match preview at the end of the week.