When: Saturday April 9th, 7pm kickoff
Where: Nippert Stadium, on the campus of the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
Radio: ESPN 1530 (iHeartRadio)
FC Cincinnati announced on Tuesday that a whopping 10,000+ tickets have been sold for the this match. That number does not include any $1 youth tickets that will be available at the gate via the Youth Soccer Community Days promotion. Tickets in a variety of sections can still be purchased at the gate on game day.
Opponent: Charlotte Independence
Charlotte Independence (1-1-0) currently have 3 points and sit 6th in the USL’s Eastern Conference.
The Charlotte Independence played its first season in the USL last year. Charlotte’s former professional team, the Charlotte Eagles, played in the USL from 2011 – 2014. The Eagles sold their USL franchise rights to the Independence ownership and moved down a level to the PDL (Premier Development League).
Last season the Charlotte Independence finished 7th out of 12 teams in the Eastern conference on 40 points, narrowly missing the playoffs. Only three points separated the Eastern Conference’s 4th place team from its 8th place team. The standings were insanely tight at season’s end and Charlotte were disappointed not to make the playoffs.
The success Charlotte had last year was built largely on top of solid defense and good home form. They allowed 35 goals in 28 games for a 1.25 GAA which was tied for 3rd best in the East in 2015. They were 8-2-4 at home but only won 2 road games all season which heavily contributed to their missing the playoffs.
Charlotte are an affiliate of the MLS club Colorado Rapids. Through this affiliation they have two Colorado Rapids loanees out of four possible on their roster: forward Caleb Calvert and former University of Cincinnati standout midfielder Emmanuel Appiah.
Whatever you can do, we can do better
Charlotte and FC Cincinnati have had strikingly similar starts to their seasons. Both began their season with a 1-0 stoppage time loss, and both earned a 2-1 victory in their second match. So clearly both teams have the same record and the same number of points in the standings. Charlotte lost its first match in injury time to Louisville City FC after failing to convert a penalty kick earlier in the match. Last weekend, they defeated the Harrisburg City Islanders 2-1 at home. Charlotte played their first two matches at home, while FC Cincinnati played its first two on the road. So advantage to FC Cincinnati right?
Brian Brown is one of the newest additions to Charlotte’s roster. The 23 year old Jamaican forward was just loaned to Charlotte from Harbour View FC in Jamaica’s Red Stripe Premier League. After leading the Jamaican league in goals in 2013-14, he spent time on loan at the Philadelphia Union and Indy Eleven. The loan to Charlotte came after the start of the USL season but Brown went straight into the starting lineup against Harrisburg last week.
David Estrada (no relation to Erik Estrada the insanely cool “CHiPs” highway patrolman) is a speedy and technically gifted attacking midfielder. An offseason acquisition, he earned USL team of the week honors for his performance and game winning goal against Harrisburg City last week. Estrada was drafted by the Seattle Sounders 11th overall in the 2010 MLS Superdraft and had several starts with that MLS club in 2012 and 2013.
Game winner from David Estrada. It’s a good enough goal, but where is the Harrisburg defense?
— Crown Town Soccer (@crowntownsoccer) April 3, 2016
Patrick Slogic is a 6’6” man-mountain of a left back. Let me repeat that, he is a 6’6” left back that anchors a physical back line along with Ugandan center back Henry Kalungi. Despite his size, Slogic is exceptionally mobile and a crowd favorite amongst Charlotte fans. The FC Cincinnati back line with have their hands full with Slogic and others on set pieces.
Will the real “Queen City” please stand up?
This match marks the first leg of the Queen City cup, a new annual competition between FC Cincinnati and the Charlotte Independence. The city of Charlotte also calls itself the “Queen City”, hence the name of the competition. The winner not only gets a real fancy-like trophy but the losing city’s mayor has to visit the opposing city and serve lunch at a homeless shelter wearing the opposing teams’ jersey. Read more about the competition at the link above.
Nippert Stadium is the new home of soccer in Cincinnati
FC Cincinnati has partnered with the University of Cincinnati to put a tremendous amount of thought, preparation and cash into the venue that will serve as the centerpiece of Saturday’s contest. If you didn’t read Cincinnati Soccer Talk’s article about Nippert Stadium, click on the image below to learn more about what to expect on Saturday.
Put on your Marching Boots
The FC Cincinnati Supporters groups will be marching to the game on Saturday and you should join them. The Pride will meet 2 hours before the match at The Brass Tap in Clifton. Die Innenstadt will set up shop at Rhinegeist in OTR, congregating 3 hours before kickoff. Prior to game time, both groups will march from their respective pub locations to the match showing their colors, waving flags and singing songs in support of their new favorite club. Connect with these groups and get in on the pageantry.
Looking for more kid friendly pregame fun? Check out the UDF Kids Zone on Sheakley lawn adjascent to Nippert. The Kids Zone will house games, food and drinks, merchandise, soccer clinics, a mini soccer pitch, and other events.
What to expect from FC Cincinnati
It does not seem likely that we will see changes in starting personnel, formation or tactics from FC Cincinnati. The team played well in Bethlehem and defeated a physical team equipped with a talented midfield and several Union loanees. There are no known injury concerns except perhaps for Omar Cummings who did not even make the bench last week.
FC Cincinnati came under heavy pressure during the first and last twenty minutes of the Bethlehem match. I suspect the improvement they will try to make on Saturday is to start faster and stay focused over the 90 minutes, managing the game better if they are fortunate enough to take the lead.
One matchup to pay attention to is FC Cincinnati’s attacking wide players against Charlotte’s fullbacks. Andrew Wiedeman and Jimmy McLaughlin can expect to have opportunities against Slogic and right fullback Jack Metcalf. Will they be able to turn these opportunities into goals?
Another key matchup to watch will be FC Cincinnati’s back line against Charlotte’s big men on set pieces. Slogic creates match-up problems and will likely be the responsibility of Harrison Delbridge. Charlotte will look to exploit a size advantage as they will likely start 5 additional players over 6 feet tall.
What would be a good result?
Frankly, a win. One could argue that both Charleston and Bethlehem (with 7 Union players) are more talented on paper than this Charlotte Independence side. FC Cincinnati will be on its home field for the first time. The team will be riding the wave of confidence and excitement that a 10,000+ crowd will provide. It’s probably unfair to expect a win from such a newly formed team but I think a lot of people including myself do. Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seat belts. Soccer in Cincinnati is about to take off.
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