It’s that time of week again folks! We here at Cincinnati Soccer Talk do our absolute best to predict the future. Well, thanks to a 94th minute goal from Romario Williams, the Charleston Battery made us all look foolish. All of us came up with a big O’fer in the Growler Cup. Now, let’s see how we all fare this week as the orange blue head north to Pennsylvania.
FC Cincinnati (0-0-1) comes into this match still looking to score their first goal in USL. Defensively they played a solid game a week ago despite losing starting CB Harrison Delbridge and goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt taking a shot to his face. They were 20 seconds away from having a clean sheet to start the 2016 season.
Bethlehem Steel (1-0-0) scored a goal late in the first half in the USL season opener against FC Montreal. The goal came on a poor GK clearance and the CB’s were caught sleeping as Fabian Herbers took advantage in their 1-0 win.
I am very excited to see what the second game holds in store for FC Cincinnati. The one thing that I learned from last game is that both Charleston and FC Cincinnati are very good USL clubs. If you had the chance to view any other USL games over the weekend, the quality in the midfield and especially the defense were evident. I believe that this will work in the favor of the Orange & Blue this weekend. Steel F.C. should feature a different lineup than last week since many Union players logged time in Montreal. The familiarity that FCC is building along with potential loss of Bethlehem goalscorer Fabian Herbers could play well for Harkes’ men. I am predicting a hard fought 1-0 win for Cincinnati.
FC Cincinnati will look to rebound against Bethlehem Steel after suffering a 0-1 loss to Charleston last week. They will also hope to compete in dryer conditions than last week, which ultimately killed some of their attacking momentum down the stretch. The Steel are a feeder team to the Philadelphia Union, and will likely be without Fabian Herbers and who scored their only (and match winning) goal last week. Weather aside, FCC showed a strong defensive presence after the first 20 minutes against Charleston and will likely shut down Bethlehem who is without perhaps their best offensive threat. There are two question marks on the injury front for Cincinnati, goalie Mitch Hildebrandt and CB Harrison Delbridge. If Delbridge is unable to play Paul Nicholson will take over opposite Austin Berry, and in that case I believe we will only see a minor drop off between CB pairings. The possibility of Hildebrandt’s absence is more concerning. He is still sporting a black eye from contact he suffered leading to his injury, but he should be healthy enough to start between the posts. FC Cincinnati’s slow starts offensively coupled with their strong defensive backline leads me to predict a 1-0 win for our boys in orange and blue with a second half goal.
Some are predicting that FC Cincinnati will cruise to victory in this match, but I expect it will be more difficult. I believe most of the Philadelphia Union loanees that featured in last week’s Bethlehem victory will play again on Sunday. Bethlehem Steel have a large physical team, with several players over 6 feet tall. Their physicality could be a problem for FC Cincinnati’s smaller ball playing midfield. This will be a key matchup in the game. Steel forward Fabian Herbers is likely to be with Philadelphia Union this weekend. If absent, FC Cincinnati will face speedy Jamaican forward Cory Burke. This similarity gives me flashbacks to Romario Williams’ game winning strike to sink us in Charleston. An interesting storyline is the ties FC Cincinnati has to the Philadelphia Union and therefore the Steel. Austin Berry, Corben Bone, Antoine Hoppenot and Jimmy McLaughlin are all former Union players. Look for these players, and Philly native Jimmy McLaughlin in particular, to make a statement against their old club. I’m predicting a 2-1 FC Cincinnati win after going down a goal.
We saw last week how great Mother Nature is at ruining my 2-0 prediction. The water logged pitch limited the possession centered attack of FC Cincinnati. I figured this week it would only make sense to check out my weather app to see what to expect. On Sunday, Bethlehem, PA is expecting a brisk 44 degrees with 20-30 mph winds. Key to the game: The defense who will be able to avoid mistakes on opponents long passes or set pieces will win. The conditions may once again be tough for FC Cincinnati to defend against the long ball/counter attacking skill set the Steel employ. Last week though the Steel started to get picked apart in the 2nd half from crosses into the box by FC Montreal wingers similar to a Coach Harkes offense. Prediction: I’ll take the experience of CB’s Austin Berry and Harrison Delbridge/Paul Nicholson to hold the line on a cold/ windy day over rookie CB Joshua Yaro and NASL vet Michael Daly. Bethlehem Steel- 1, FC Cincinnati- 2
Well last week’s wet and wild weather conditions certainly didn’t help my cause as I predicted a 3-2 FC Cincinnati win. However with that said, this week I think that the good guys are ready to get back to winning ways in the Keystone State. I’m not entirely sure that the back four of the Steel were all that challenged in Montreal in their opener. With guys like Okoli, Hoppenot, McLaughlin, Wiedeman, Spencer, maybe even Omar Cummings, you’d like to think that FC Cincinnati has a chance to put some balls in the back of the net. I also was impressed with FC Cincinnati’s defense in Charleston, 20 seconds away from a clean sheet! I think FC Cincinnati gets their first W in USL play and gets out of Pennsylvania with a 1-0 win.
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