The wait for the first game is finally over as FC Cincinnati takes the field for the first time in an official USL match. Fresh off a tremendous preseason where they captured the club’s first hardware, FC Cincinnati heads down to the Palmetto State Saturday to take on the Charleston Battery at 7:30 p.m.
To celebrate this historic occasion in franchise history, supporters groups Die Innenstadt and The Pride will be holding viewing parties for the match. Die Innenstadt will congregate at Rhinehaus in OTR while the Pride will assemble at Molly Malone’s in Covington. If you can not make one of these viewing parties, you can watch the match on the USL Youtube stream below.
For more information on what to expect this Saturday, I encourage you to read more below.
When: Saturday, March 26th @ 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: MUSC Health Stadium – 1990 Daniel Island Dr, Charleston, SC 29492
How Can I Watch: The USL streams all games for free on it’s Youtube Live Stream account.
How Can I Follow: Check out @CincySoccerLive as we live tweet and interact with supporters during the match.
If you are visiting: Tickets start at $10 can be purchased online, or by calling the Battery ticket hotline at 971-GOAL (4625). Make sure you do not miss the “3 Lions Club” located inside the stadium. At over 5,000 square feet, the bar/ museum displays soccer memorabilia from wall to wall including an authentic Pele jersey and a signed kit from the 1966 World Cup Champion England squad. All FC Cincinnati supporters have been invited by Mike Buytas, President of The Regiment Supporters Group, to a joint tailgate. Please click here for more details or reach out to Mike on Facebook.
Opponent: Charleston Battery:
Charleston brings a unbeaten streak of 25 home games vs. USL competition into the season opener and look to improve upon last season where they finished 3rd in the Eastern Conference losing in OT, 2-0 to Louisville City FC. Coach Mike Anhaeuser returns 4 starters to the leagues 2nd best defense last season. All USL Center Back Shawn Ferguson headlines the back 4 in front of a 2nd Team USL goalkeeper Odisnel “El Gato” Cooper. Coach Anhaeuser prefers a 4-2-3-1 formation that gets its wing-backs up the field. It is a similar formation to what FC Cincinnati has used this preseason and is susceptible to the counter attack if the backs get too far out of position.
Unfortunately on the offensive side of the ball the USL’s all-time leading scorer Dane Kelly transferred to Swope Park Rangers of the Western Conference and now the Battery have to replace his team leading 11 goals from last season. The team can look to Forward Ricky Garbanzo who scored 6 times last season and has shown good form this preseason with 2 strikes in last weekends Friendly 3-0 win over the New York Cosmos. The club received some late help via a loan from the Montreal Impact for Forward Romario Williams. Williams arrived midweek and may not have enough time in the system to see playing time this weekend.
This season promises to be another strong season for the Battery as they fight for a Top 4 spot in the conference and a home playoff match. If you would like to learn more on what to expect in 2016 for Charleston, please view their Preseason Preview.
FC Cincinnati (0-0-0, 0 Pts.)- FCC came out of their first preseason with 3 wins and 2 draws in 5 appearances while claiming the first piece of hardware at the IMG Suncoast Classic. Most recently FCC faced Xavier University for an friendly where they picked up a 2-0 win with goals from Jimmy McLaughlin and Sean Okoli.
Charleston Battery (0-0-0, 0 Pts.)- Over their last 4 preseason matches, the Battery have outscored opponents 10-1 including the big 3-0 win last Saturday over NASL side New York Cosmos. Fourth-year winger Maikel Chang has carried more of the offensive load this preseason and had two assists against the Cosmos.
What to watch for:
1. Starting Lineup – Will UC’s own Omar Cummings recovered enough from off-season knee surgery to make the start in FC Cincinnati’s inaugural match? If not, you could see MLS Veteran Antoine Hoppenot move to the withdrawn striker role he played at the IMG Academy tournament. You could also see Corben Bone move to the attacking midfield role while Paul Nicholson slides into a more defensive midfield position.
2. Hot Wings – Can Jimmy McLaughlin and Andrew Wiedeman continue their great run of form shown during this pre-season? Both players netted 2 goals while providing great service into the box for Forwards Sean Okoli and Luke Spencer.
3. Mitch says No! – Mitch Hildebrandt started 4 of the 5 preseason fixtures and should get the start this weekend. He started most recently vs. Xavier as he and the defense partnered to keep a clean sheet.
4. International Call Ups – Both teams lost a couple of players this weekend as they represent their respective national teams. FC Cincinnati backup keeper Dallas Jaye was called up to Guam for their 2018 World Cup qualifier vs. Oman. The Battery will be without two key starters on their defense due to call ups. Antigua’s Left Back Quinton Griffith was called in for their Caribbean Cup match while Defensive Mid Neveal Hackshaw was summoned by Trinidad. The Soca Warriors will face St. Vincent & the Grenadines in a pair of World Cup qualifiers.
Simple Man’s Outlook:
As noted above, the Battery are a tough opponent at home. With 1 loss at home in the last 2 seasons, MUSC Health Stadium is a fortress where most teams are happy to get a point. Fortunately for FC Cincinnati, they may catch the Battery at the right time to snatch 3 points with a win in South Carolina. Starters Hackshaw and Griffith are away while Williams may be too green to make in impact this early with the club. For more insight on Saturday’s match, listen to this week’s Cincinnati Soccer Talk podcast.
How do you think Saturday’s match against Charleston will end up?
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