FC Cincinnati heads to Gettler Stadium to kick off their final 3 preseason matches as they play a new arrival to the USL in Nashville SC. Check out our 5 Things to Know in the lead-up to FC Cincinnati’s third season in the USL.
Where: Cincinnati, OH. – Gettler Stadium at University of Cincinnati
When: Saturday, March 3rd at 4:00 p.m. EST
2017 Form: FC Cincinnati (USL) – 6th Place (12W-10L-10D, 46 pts.), Nashville SC (USL) – Expansion Franchise
5 Things to Know
Starts with Defense: When Nashville SC Coach Gary Smith assembled his club it had a distinctive defensive lean to it. Justin Davis was brought in from Minnesota Utd. along with London Woodberry from the New England Revolution. These two veteran MLS players along with former DC United draft pick and center back Liam Doyle has led Smith’s “senior 11” or more experienced unit of the squad. So far this group has not allowed a goal in the preseason.
Get Your Legs: Coach Alan Koch has used the preseason thus far to try out different combinations and see how relationships have built between the players. With 2 weeks until the first regular season match against Charleston, the starting XI is taking shape and now the guys need to be conditioned for 90 minutes. In Indianapolis last week you saw one group play 60 minutes and the subs get 30 minutes. NKU was split equally but on Saturday expect to see a strong XI to start and more of a 70/20 split in minutes between the starters and subs.
Widespread Attack: Unlike seasons past where FC Cincinnati was heavily reliant on a dominant striker (Okoli, Djiby), this year’s club has been set up to attack from all over the pitch. You’ve seen goals from the run of play, the PK spot, and corner’s this preseason. So far, FC Cincinnati’s had goals from 7 players (Bone, Halfhill, Ledesma, Haber, Ameobi, Keinan, and Lasso). Coach Koch has to be thrilled with the contributions all over the pitch. FC Cincinnati in the last 2 seasons has been too one dimensional, hopefully, this assemblage of players will be able to overcome that obstacle as they strive for postseason success.
Growing Pains: In match up’s against Atlanta United (3-1, L), Chicago Fire (0-0), and Ottawa (1-1), Nashville struggled to put points on the scoreboard. Coach Smith had this to say about his squad after a 0-0 draw against the Chicago Fire. “We are having some struggles building that rapport in the final third. It’s hard to be inspirational and then at the end to choose the right finish and be clinical.” Like any club that comes together, they will go through their series of growing pains but they do have a couple youngsters with loads of potential. Some FC Cincinnati fans might recognize Ropapa Mensah from Harrisburg (Penn FC) from last year. The 20-year-old Ghanian was up for USL Player of the Month last season and scored Nashville’s first goal in club history. Also look out for the 22-year-old forward Alan Winn, the 25th pick in this season’s MLS SuperDraft. He was 2nd Team All American last year for UNC and led them to their 2nd consecutive NCAA College Cup. These two might not start right off the bat for the expansion side but look out for them come the July 7th match at Nashville.
New Rivalry: Saturday’s matchup will be the first of at least 4 times these two clubs will see each other this season. With the USL uneven scheduling, FC Cincinnati will travel to the Music City twice while Nashville will make their return trip August 4th. With the proximity of the two clubs, there will also be a chance they get drawn against one another in the US Open cup and then you always have the playoffs. Nashville has been splashing the cash to be competitive right away and already received 1 of the 2 MLS Expansion slots FCC fans have coveted. Time will ultimately tell the severity of it all but one thing is for sure, this has all the kindling needed to become a heated rivalry.
Thanks to Speedway Soccer Pod @SoccerSpeedway with the assist on the article. Make sure to check them out for more information on Nashville SC.
STREAM: Stream is not available. We will have coverage on site and will LIVE TWEET to the best of our ability. Also look out for recap & video content Saturday evening.
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