The boys in Orange & Blue return after a brief break to face Pittsburgh Riverhounds Saturday afternoon. The Hounds are on a great run of form over the past month with 3 consecutive wins and a draw. That has seen them rise all the way to 9th place in the standings, 1 point behind FC Cincinnati. The race for the final playoff spots is tightening up, here’s how some of the staff here at CST feel things will transpire.
Defense wins championships and with 7 games to go, it’s time for the D to assert itself and start turning in performances similar to our US Open Cup run. The backline will be the key to FCC’s success if things are to improve. The Orange & Blue have given up nearly 20 shots per game the last 5 matches and that has translated into 15 goals conceded. Austin Berry needs to organize the line and give Mitch some breathing room. I think the turnaround starts tomorrow as FCC get’s their first Widmer’s Clean Sheet in over a month with a 2-0 win!
This match is a defining moment for FC Cincinnati. Open Cup run excuses were fine and reasonable but the players are coming off 11 days of much-needed rest. We are about to find out what the Orange and Blue can do at full strength. I hope we all leave with a smile on our face vs a week of worrying about making the playoffs. Saturday’s match will put a buffer (albeit a small one) between Cincy and most of the playoff chasing pack. Due to this team’s road record, Cincinnati will need that buffer. I don’t like to worry, so my prediction is based solely off the desire for some peace of mind. Pittsburgh has never beaten Cincinnati in soccer and they won’t start now. FC Cincy wins 3-1.
We will know much about FC Cincinnati after Saturday afternoon’s match. 3 Points & a win show this team can be a force to contend going into the USL playoffs. A loss spells an uphill climb with many road matches for Cincinnati. Expect Pittsburgh to come out on the front foot with potentially 4 high attack-minded players challenging Coach Koch’s defense. Will the rested midfield of Corben Bone, Kenney Walker and potential Aodhan Quinn be able to neutralize the Pitt attack and transition the Orange & Blue forward? I think they do win vs. the hottest team in the Eastern Conference. FC Cincinnati wins 2-1 on a hopefully dry evening in Cincinnati.
The orange and blue had a much-needed rest. But they are coming back to Nippert to face the hottest team in the East. FCC needs to control the midfield if they want to stop Pittsburgh. I think the lads are little too rested and come out slow. Pittsburgh will make us pay for a lazy start and we struggle to even the score. I’m predicting a 2-1 loss.
Rejuvenated and determined, we will see the boys in Orange and Blue ready to begin the final leg of the season with a convincing performance against the Puddle Puppies. Even though Pittsburgh is coming to Nippert Stadium fresh off of a three match win streak, they will not be able to overcome the home field advantage and fresh legs of FC Cincinnati. Look for Jimmy, Danni and Weide to wear out the back line of the Creek Canines. I think Konig adds another goal to his 2017 campaign, capping a 2-0 win for the KSLKs.
No more emotional highs with the US Open Cup run. 30k screaming fans standing at their seats and yelling “FCC”. Then the inevitable let down when they played their next game and try as they might, they are emotionally spent and the atmosphere is smaller. Feet are back on the ground as we saw from the Ottawa game. The crowd, the team, the city, firmly behind this final stretch and run for the USL Cup. Is Pittsburgh a rivalry? Try as FCC might, not really, but over 20k people are turning out Saturday to support the ORANGE (and blue). Are the Hounds in good form as of late? Sure, but we’re rested and healthy and focused. Only 2 homes games left and this city is turning out big for both. Only 7 games left and Coach Koch has said every game has playoff implications. This is a team that went toe to toe with 3 MLS teams, beat two and had the third sweating for close to 100 minutes. Nippert is a fortress and the Bailey protects that fortress. We’re tough to beat at home and with the city, the team, the coach, the fans all focused on this game, we’re about to launch into a significant winning streak. 2-0 to FCC. Time to climb the table.
Other Staff Picks: Seubs 2-0, Yosief 2-1
ICYMI: Check out our 5 Things to Know before Saturday’s match.
Tune into the latest Cincinnati Soccer Talk podcasts on TUESDAY nights at 8 p.m. and look for our new podcast on your favorite podcast network each week!