FC Cincinnati (3 seed, 16-6-8) faces the Charleston Battery (6 seed, 13-8-9) in the club’s first playoff game as a professional franchise. The match will be held at Nippert Stadium on Sunday, October 2nd at 4pm ET. Cincinnati Soccer Talk offers 7 things to know to get you ready for the playoffs!
Record White Out? – The regular season finale was the last match played at Nippert stadium and boasted a USL record crowd of over 24 thousand fans. Sunday’s playoff match has the potential to be even bigger with tickets sales already surpassing 20K, with Jeff Berding and Carl Lindner III challenging the city’s fans to sell out the stadium. The match will be a white out, with fans encouraged to wear white in support of the team. Additionally, the first 5,000 fans in the stadium will get a free orange megaphone as a reward.
Old Versus New – This matchup is truly a contest between the old and new in the USL. The Charleston Battery were founded in 1993 and are one of the oldest continually operating professional soccer clubs in the United States. They also have four league championships to their name. FC Cincinnati are the upstart darlings of this year’s USL season, boasting a hall of fame coach, the golden boot winner and record attendances. Charleston, a team that has been to the playoffs for the past six seasons, will find extra motivation in trying to knock off the league’s newest sensation.
Another Chance at Payback – The last match at Nippert between these two teams was billed as a revenge match for FC Cincinnati after they lost to the Battery 1-0 in the season opener. The Charleston Battery are one of only five teams that defeated the Orange & Blue during their regular season. Harkes’ men were not able to get their revenge because they conceded a late equalizer for a 1-1 result. Sunday will provide another chance on a very big stage.
Keeping it Clean – Defense wins championships and FC Cincinnati’s defense is finding its best form at just the right time. The back four and Mitch Hildebrandt have produced four consecutive clean sheets and team captain Austin Berry was named to the USL Team of the Week for his outstanding performance against Pittsburgh last week.
Fine Form – Good defense usually means good results and FC Cincinnati have clearly had the better recent results. The Orange & Blue have four wins and a draw in their last five matches yielding 13 total points. Compare that to Charleston’s six points over the same time period. Charleston have had an arguably tougher schedule over that stretch, but they also lost to lowly FC Montréal in early September. Harkes’ men have reason to be confident based on form and their home field advantage.
Danger Men – Charleston’s Jamaican striker Romario Williams broke the hearts of FC Cincinnati fans with a stoppage time winner against the Orange and Blue on March 26th, the first regular season match FC Cincinnati played. He’s gone on to become their leading scorer with ten goals. Also keep an eye on defender Taylor Mueller and midfielder Maikel Chang, both of whom have been selected as USL Player of the Week this season.
Crystal Ball – If FC Cincinnati advances, who’s up next? The winner of this contest will face the winner of the match between the Louisville City and the Richmond Kickers which is being played at 7pm in Louisville that same evening. Louisville is the two seed and will continue to host if they win. If the Kickers prevail, FCC will host another playoff game at Nippert. Fans can watch LouCity vs. Richmond at Mecklenburg Gardens following Sunday’s match.
The supporters groups will be taking up residence at their favorite pre-match locations before kickoff. See the list below for more information.
Die Innenstadt: Mecklenburg Gardens – 302 E University Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45219
The Pride: Ladder 19 – 2701 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45219 – NEW LOCATION
Lowen de Sudens: Barleycorn’s – 1073 Industrial Rd, Cold Spring, KY 41076
Queen City Firm: Mio’s Pizzeria Pub – 2634 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45219
Queen City Mafia: Adriatico’s Parking Lot Tailgate – 113 W McMillan St, Cincinnati, OH 45219
All FC Cincinnati supporters will clearly be attending the match in person, but just in case circumstances prevent, below are alternative ways to catch the action.
RADIO: Join the Voice of FC Cincinnati Tom Gelehrter on 1530AM ESPN Radio.