The Union were held to a scoreless draw Wednesday night by FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium in a game in which only shot on goal by either team came in the 92nd minute.
“Not the beautiful game, for sure,” Union manager Jim Curtin said afterward. “Credit to Cincinnati. … We knew with them putting 10 guys behind the ball, it would be a challenge to break them down.”
The first half was marked by more roughhousing than anything else as the teams combined for 16 fouls — nine by Cincinnati, seven by the Union (7-2-4, 25 points). Kacper Przybylko, José Andrés Martínez, and Jamiro Monteiro all took hard hits that were amplified by the hard artificial turf at a venue better known as the University of Cincinnati’s football field.
Ray Gaddis fell victim to the turf early in the second half, suffering what appeared to be a hamstring injury. He left in the 56th minute. Olivier Mbaizo moved from left back to right back, and Matt Real came in to the open spot. Ilsinho replaced Andrew Wooten at the same time, prompting the Union’s usual move from a 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1.
Curtin’s initial guess was that Gaddis will be out “a week or two,” but the official word won’t come until the team gets home. He also noted that starting left back Kai Wagner is expected to return after a few weeks out injured for Sunday’s home game against Inter Miami.
Three minutes later, Alejandro Bedoya drew a yellow card for landing a high boot near the arm of Cincinnati’s Frankie Amaya contesting a ball in the air. The booking earned the Union’s captain a suspension for card accumulation, and he’ll serve it Sunday when Miami makes its first visit to Subaru Park. It’s expected to be the debut of the expansion team’s new star signing — former Juventus, Real Madrid, and Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuaín.
Bedoya was due for a night off, having played in every game so far this season. But getting it that way wasn’t the plan.
“We put our best players on the field every week, and it’s unfortunate he got a yellow card on a play that … is really just incidental contact,” Curtin said. “If I leave him out of the team and we lose, then people say ‘Why did you do that?’”
Sergio Santos entered in the 72nd minute for Brenden Aaronson, who created two chances and completed 18-of-27 passes. Aaronson had Cincinnati’s attention all night, and it came just a few hours after word emerged that a deal is near to sell him to Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg.
Santos produced the Union’s first quality chance of the night in the 78th, a turn and shot off the far post after Monteiro’s pass to him split two defenders.
Cincinnati (3-6-4, 13 points) won a free kick 40 or so yards from goal in the 89th minute, and former Union stalwart Haris Medunjanin swung it perfectly into the 18-yard box. Kendall Waston headed it across the goalmouth, and José Andrés Martínez dived to clear it out. Joe Gyau came closest of all in the 92nd, beating Olivier Mbaizo off the dribble and forcing a diving save from Andre Blake.
The Union won a free kick from about the same distance in the 95th. Monteiro swung it in. Cincinnati’s defense cleared it out, and the final whistle blew on a game no one will want to remember.