FIU Set Pieces Doom UK Soccer in CUSA Opener

Box Score

MIAMI – Florida International scored twice off set pieces inside the first 15 minutes and No. 21 Kentucky was unable to fully recover in the Conference USA opener on a steamy night in the magic city.

The script remained the same as relates to Kentucky’s defense conceding goals in 2016. The Wildcats (won 3, lost 2, drew 1; 0-1-1 C-USA) have allowed four goals this season and all have been from dead-ball kicks.

FIU improved to 3-2-1, 1-0-0 C-USA.

The goals
FIU took the lead on its first foray forward six minutes in. Having won a corner on a transition cross that was deflected behind, David Longo headed the corner down and Kentucky was unable to clear from the goal mouth before Santiago Patino smashed the ball in from three yards to finish his sixth goal of the season.

Seven minutes later the hosts doubled their advantage. Brad Fountain whipped a free kick into the box from 35 yards out central, and Patino hit a free header from 12 yards across goal into the leftward netting.

The Wildcats mounted a response after halftime, cutting into the deficit on 48 minutes as freshman winger Connor Probert slipped junior forward Andrew McKelvey in on goal from 20 yards. McKelvey tucked home under the keeper.

The key play
Kentucky’s best chance to equalize came with about 10 minutes to play. Awarded a penalty kick for a FIU hand ball in the box, Probert’s low effort was saved by Arthur Clapot diving to his left. 

The quote
“FIU, give credit to them,” UK head coach Johan Cedergren said. “It’s great to start the conference (play) with a win. They scored two goals on set pieces, but for us we’ve got to be able to do more.”

The setup
Kentucky and FIU split results in consecutive games last November as UK clinched the C-USA regular season title with a 1-0 win at the Bell on Nov. 7 before FIU flipped the score line six days later in the C-USA Tournament semifinal en route to winning the league tournament.

So it was the 2015 C-USA regular season champions at the 2015 C-USA tournament champions to open the 2016 league schedule.

Kentucky head coach Johan Cedergren made one change from the side he started in UK’s previous five matches this season as Andrew McKelvey – out injured for the first three matches of the year – came into the starting 11 at the apex of the Kentucky formation for Stefan Stojkovic.

The notes
UK is 8-5-1 against FIU all-time. FIU has won two in a row.

Kentucky dropped its C-USA opener for the first time since 2013.

McKelvey scored his fourth career goal.

Kentucky allowed more than one goal in a game for the first time this season.

UK Soccer in C-USA
Kentucky plays in C-USA in men’s soccer only. The Southeastern Conference does not offer men’s soccer as a sport. South Carolina is the only other SEC university that has a varsity men’s soccer team. The Gamecocks are also in C-USA.

The best coverage of UK men's soccer is available via UKMensSoccer handles on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.