Photo courtesy Martin Bayzl / Toronto FC II
VAUGHAN, Ont. – FC Cincinnati rallied for a 4-3 victory against Toronto FC II on Saturday night at the Ontario Soccer Centre that left it looking at either the sixth or seventh seed in the Eastern Conference for the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs. In heavy rain, Toronto took the lead in the 10th minute as an initial cross was headed on goal by Ben Spencer and saved by FCC goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt, but Tsubasa Endoh followed up to put home the rebound into the open goal. Endoh struck again in the 31st minute as Hildebrandt was caught by a deep cross that saw Spencer knock back to the attacking midfielder to hit a shot that deflected off a defender and into the back of the net. Cincinnati pulled a goal back 10 minutes later as Danni König headed home a free kick by Kenney Walker, and Djiby Fall almost equalized two minutes later as his volleyed finish hit the right post and came out. König had a chance come back off the crossbar two minutes into the second half, with the rebound hustled behind by Toronto’s defense as Fall looked for the rebound. Walker provided the leveler in the 49th minute, however, as a layoff by Corben Bone opened a chance to fire low into the right corner from 25 yards. Toronto regained the lead just four minutes later as a perfect ball over the top by Brandon Onkony played in Shaan Hundal, and the Canadian U20 international produced a lobbed finish over Hidebrandt, who arrived late coming off his line. FCC got level again in the 66th minute when Jimmy McLaughlin broke on a counterattack down the left, and his low cross was knocked home at the top of the six-yard area by Fall to make it 3-3. Cincinnati then took the lead for the first time with four minutes to go to grab all three points, with Walker’s chipped through-ball clipping off the head of a defender before finding its way to Justin Hoyte, who finished calmly. Cincinnati almost added a fifth in stoppage time, only for Toronto goalkeeper Mark Pais to make a good diving save to deny Kadeem Dacres, but FCC held on to end its regular season on a hard-fought win.
10’ – TOR – Tsubasa Endoh
31’ – TOR – Tsubasa Endoh (Ben Spencer)
41’ – CIN – Danni König (Kenney Walker)
49’ – CIN – Kenney Walker (Corben Bone)
53’ – TOR – Shaan Hundal (Brandon Onkony)
66’ – CIN – Djiby Fall (Jimmy McLaughlin)
86’ – CIN – Justin Hoyte
Three Things That Matter:
1. Slow starts have plagued FC Cincinnati all season, and its final game of the regular season was no exception as it fell into a two-goal deficit when Toronto produced a pair of good finishes by Tsubasa Endoh to go on top. FCC managed to get its way back into the game on Saturday night, rallying with two well-taken goals that had Kenney Walker at their core and then again on Djiby Fall’s 12th goal of the regular season after Toronto had regained the lead shortly after Walker’s tally. But while Cincinnati rallied for victory against TFC II, its opponent in next week’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinals will surely not be as forgiving if FCC goes down early.
2. Toronto put up another game performance in its final game of the regular season, with Shaan Hundal once again finding the net after Tsubasa Endoh had put away a pair of finishes in the first half. Hundal finished his second season with goals in his last four games, moving him to seven overall for the season to surpass his 2016 total, and his lifted finish over FCC goalkeeper Harrison Delbridge showed the sort of confidence a striker can gain when on that type of run.
3. Cincinnati guaranteed it will finish at least seventh in the Eastern Conference with Saturday night’s win, moving past the New York Red Bulls II with Bethlehem Steel FC to close out the regular season on Sunday afternoon. That means there will be no River Cities Cup clash against Louisville City FC in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals next Friday night at Slugger Field, with a visit to either the No. 2-seed Charleston Battery or No. 3-seed Tampa Bay Rowdies awaiting Cincinnati to open its second postseason trip. After suffering defeats at both MUSC Health Stadium and Al Lang Stadium this season, the task will be a tough one, but with the talent FCC can line up you certainly wouldn’t rule Cincinnati out of springing an upset if it can produce a full 90-minute display.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Kenney Walker, FC Cincinnati – Returning to the lineup, Walker recorded a goal and assist, and also set up the game-winning goal in another display that highlighted his value to the side.
Toronto FC II – End of Season
FC Cincinnati – Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, TBA