After what GM Jeff Berding quoted as a “false start” press conference Monday morning, FC Cincinnati announced that they would host La Liga club Valencia C.F. in their 2017 international friendly match on Tuesday.
FC Cincinnati and presenting sponsor Cincinnati Bell seemed to have all the details in place for the Monday, July 24th friendly, with the exception of permission to announce the opponent from Valencia’s Commerical Director. The director wanted to be involved in the press conference for the match but was unable due to a travel conflict.
This is the second year in a row that FC Cincinnati has committed to bringing a high-quality opponent into Nippert Stadium. In 2016, FC Cincinnati hosted English Premier League side Crystal Palace in front of over 35,000 fans. GM Jeff Berding used GB Sports Director Mark Gibbon, a UEFA and FIFA match agent to organize the 2016 CPFC trip and the 2017 Valencia match.
The 2017 Valencia friendly will take place on a Monday night in place of a Saturday used in 2016. FC Cincinnati will have to contend with an extremely busy week as they will host Harrisburg City Islanders on Wednesday the 26th and the Rochester Rhinos on Saturday the 29th. I would expect to see the preferred Starting XI get a run in the first 45 minutes of the match vs. Valencia, with backups filling out the 2nd half.
Valencia C.F. finished in 12th place in the 2016-17 La Liga table with a notable 2-1 victory over Real Madrid. Los Murciélagos (The Bats) or Los Che will begin their 98th season in professional football and their 83rd in the Spanish top flight. Valencia has won six La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey (Spanish Cup) trophies, two Fairs Cups (which was the predecessor to the UEFA Cup), one UEFA Cup, one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and two UEFA Super Cup’s. They also reached two UEFA Champions League finals in a row, losing to La Liga rivals Real Madrid in 2000 and German club Bayern Munich on penalties after a 1–1 draw in 2001.
The roster boasts the likes of World Cup veteran and 2016 European Champion (Portugal) Nani, Italian forward Simone Zaza, Spanish Youth International Santi Mina, and for the time being Arsenal & Man City target José Luis Gayà.
Even though Valencia is one of the all-time greatest clubs in Spain, and has a significantly better track record than Crystal Palace, I am worried FC Cincinnati may be disappointed with the reaction and turnout. La Liga is shown less in the US than the Bundesliga and EPL and Valencia may not have the name recognition gathered by a league that can feature almost every game per weekend.
Couple their large presence in the American fan culture, a Monday evening match, and the fact that this match is not included in the 2017 Season Ticket package, I think it will be very difficult to have a sell out of 35,000 fans.
There are many reasons why FC Cincinnati is hosting on a Monday rather than a Saturday. Many clubs in Europe are not traveling to North America in 2017 due to most coming in 2016. Valencia was also rumored to have a game on Saturday the 22nd vs. the New York Cosmos (NASL) in Saskatchewan. Berding’s options may have been limited, but I want to give him credit for upgrading our 2017 opponent even though it is on a Monday.
FC Cincinnati is a growing club and our brand is certainly getting some of these larger clubs attention. This match vs. Valencia will give our fan base a different brand of football to watch and I cannot wait to attend.
Tune into the latest Cincinnati Soccer Talk podcast this WEDNESDAY night at 8 p.m. with Special Guest Austin Berry. Look for our new podcast and the CST March to Matchday podcast on your favorite podcast network each week!