Goals from Jordon Mutch and Wilfried Zaha saw Palace overcome a strong challenge from FC Cincinnati in front of a record crowd for a football match in Ohio.
35,061 fans packed squeezed into the sold-out Nippert Stadium to see their hometown club go toe-to-toe with the Eagles and they held their own against Premier League Palace, but ultimately two quality goals either side of half-time saw Alan Pardew’s men prevail.
The game’s first chance came on five minutes when Cincinnati countered following a Palace corner and the ball came to Paul Nicholson who let fly from 20 yards and forced Alex McCarthy to tip the shot over the bar.
Palace then raced up the other end and found the net in scrappy circumstances but Mutch was adjudged to have fouled Mitch Hildebrandt after a corner, but in the ninth minute the midfielder did get on the scoresheet in a much more impressive fashion.
Hiram Boateng fed Fraizer Campbell who slipped on the artificial surface, but the ball fell into Mutch’s path who took a touch before blasting it into the net from 25 yards, leaving Hildebrant helpless.
After that bright start the rest of the half was pretty anti-climactic with neither goalkeeper was really tested, and seven minutes before the end of the half Campbell raced away and had a chance to bend the ball into the top corner but his attempt sailed disappointingly well over.
But the large crowd had something to cheer a couple of minutes before the interval when Omar Cummings let fly with a vicious strike from just inside the area and McCarthy did well to acrobatically sweep the high ball over his bar and keep his clean sheet intact at the break.
That nearly wasn’t the case just 15 seconds into the second half when Cincinnati pushed down the left with Derek Luke and the full-back’s cross was cleared into Jimmy McLaughlin’s feet but he couldn’t steer a golden opportunity on target.
Freddie Ladapo responded by forcing Dallas Jaye into a save when the ball sat up nicely for the Palace striker but he couldn’t find enough power to trouble the substitute goalkeeper, but in the other goal McCarthy was twice tested in quick succession when a tricky effort by Eric Stevenson was parried and 60 seconds later Cummings saw an attempt spin into the path of Omar Mohamed who juggled with it before seeing his shot blocked by the Eagles custodian.
It looked as though Palace would need a second goal to ensure victory and it came in the 63rd minute. Andros Townsend swept the ball with the outside of his foot out to Zaha on the left flank, and he teased his way past a defender before planting the ball into the bottom corner of the net to double the lead.
Townsend then twice went close to grabbing his first goal in red and blue but saw a blast from 25 yards flash wide before, in trademark fashion, cutting inside from the right and thump the ball goalwards with his left foot but Dan Williams managed to push it away who was again in action a few minutes later when Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong’s low skidder was tipped around the post.
There was also a nice moment for Kleton Perntreou who made his maiden appearance in the Palace first-team as a late substitute, and he made a good save from Luke whose free-kick looked destined to be creeping into the bottom corner as the Eagles clinched their first win of the 2016/17 campaign.
Cincinnati: Hildebrandt (Jaye 46, Williams 76), Polak (Luke 46), Delbridge (Lee 46), Berry (Millay 60), McMahon (Dell 62), Nicholson (Tomaselli 46), Walker (Bone 46), Wiedeman (Mohamed 46), McLaughlin (Hoppenot 60), Okoli (Stevenson 46, Ripoll 79), Cummings (Spencer 60).
Palace: McCarthy (Perntreou 76), Ward (Puncheon 59), Kelly (Dann 45), Delaney (Croll 59), Fryers, Boateng, Mutch, Sako (Townsend 45), Lee (Kaikai 73), Zaha (Berkeley-Agyepong 73), Campbell (Ladapo 45). Sub not used: Speroni.