Meanwhile, the hosts, who had not played since Aug. 23, couldn’t seem to get their footing on defense. Not even 90 seconds in, goalie Mitch Hildebrandt cleared a ball into the face of teammate Justin Hoyte and FCC struggled in transition right away.
The slow start came back to bite Cincinnati when Corey Hertzog drove in a shot from the top of the 18-yard box just 2:47 into the match for the 1-0 lead.
“We know we needed to put in a 90-minute performance tonight and by not showing up in the first five minutes, we obviously put ourselves in a bit of a hole we had to dig ourselves out of,” Koch said.
FC Cincinnati rose to the occasion after falling behind, though, and managed to gain the possession advantage the rest of the way, controlling the ball 65 percent of the time.
Andrew Wiedeman scored the equalizer in the 40th minute, receiving a chance off a deflection when Danni Konig’s heel-flick to the corner went off a defender’s leg and right into the center of the box. Wiedeman quickly buried the shot for his second goal of the season.
“I think we started coming into our own going deeper into the half,” Wiedeman said. “I played on the right side and it fell my way so I could tap it in one time. I can’t put my finger on why we started slow tonight after such a solid week of training. Obviously, it takes all 11 guys, but we didn’t come out to play the way Pittsburgh did.”
Despite being outshot 14-11 for the match, FC Cincinnati had several other chances to score. In the 60th minute, Wiedeman nearly tallied his second goal of the night when he collected a pass from König and fired off a shot that was blocked but sailed just over the crossbar. Djiby Fall, who came on for Konig in the 65th minute, then nearly put the home side ahead in the 78th minute with a volley that just missed the upper 90.
Hildebrandt recovered from the slow start as well, adding three saves to his USL-leading number to give him 80 on the season.
FCC heads into another break but returns to the pitch Sept. 12 at Harrisburg City.
“We were pleased with the performance in the last 85 minutes,” Koch said. “It certainly gives us something to build on through the final six games.”