Thanks to a stoppage time goal from the Bethlehem Steel, Michael Walker and Brad Weigel got some bonus points in our “Growler Cup”. They correctly predicted a FC Cincinnati win and the exact scoreline of 2-1. But Bryan Weigel, Yosief Tzeghai and I also predicted a win by the good guys so we each received a point as well. How do we think the orange and blue will fare this Saturday night in their home opener? Let’s find out.
FC Cincinnati (1-1-0) comes into this match riding high after their first goal and win in franchise history. The first goal belonged to Andrew Wiedeman and was followed up shortly thereafter by Sean Okoli. Despite being up a man for the last 10 minutes of the match, they gave up a goal and had to suffer through some “squeaky bum time” to get out of Bethlehem with a W.
Charlotte Independence (1-1-0) found themselves down a goal after 3 minutes to the Harrisburg City Islanders last weekend. They quickly responded with 2 first half goals of their own for their first win of the 2016 campaign. If it weren’t for a free kick goal given up at the death in week 1, Charlotte would still be unbeaten.
Bryan Weigel – (1 PT)
Both teams come into Nippert Stadium with matching 1-1-0 records. This game will come down to whether our forward line can hold the ball up and allow the midfield to break down Charlotte. I don’t expect many crosses to be played due to the weather and that could play right into the hands of FC Cincinnati. Harkes will need McLaughlin and Wiedeman to show the same amount of skill and poise on the ball as they did last week. All I hope for is anything but a 0-0 draw. If FC Cincinnati can score and play an exciting game, these 12,000+ fans should be in for a great show. My prediction is a 1-0 FCC win mainly due to the weather. Let’s go Orange & Blue!
Yosief Tzeghai – (1 PT)
The day the FC Cincinnati supporters have waited for is finally here. After collecting a win and a loss on the road, the good guys look play their first official match in Nippert Stadium. In Bethlehem last weekend the offense came together and the attack seemed to flow well between the forwards and midfielders collectively. Walker, Bone, and Tomaselli keep cutting down on balls lost in the midfield which has resulted in less fast counters from the opposition. The defining factor of this match will be FC Cincinnati adjusting to the size of Charleston especially along the backline. The offense can continue the success that was shown against Bethlehem Steel if wingers Jimmy McLaughlin and Andrew Wiedeman win their matchups against their defensive counterparts. Patrick Slogic, the 6 foot 6 inch starting left-back for Charlotte, will be asked to slow Andrew Wiedeman, who is arguably FC Cincinnati’s greatest offensive threat. The FCC defense need to hold their own especially during the first 15 minutes of the match to find the early stability that FC Cincinnati has lacked the past two matches. My prediction is 2-0 to FCC as the defense holds it to together for the entire match.
Michael Walker – (2 PTS)
Look for FC Cincinnati to try to exploit Charlotte in wide areas, especially down FC Cincinnati’s left. I think Jimmy McLaughlin and Tyler Polak can find some joy against Charlotte RB Jack Metcalf, especially when Charlotte’s right midfielder David Estrada pushes forward. Wiedeman has a physical challenge on the right against Charlotte’s 6’6″ Slogic, but you still would fancy him in space against a defender that big. Nippert stadium will not be widened to a FIFA regulation width of 75 feet until after the 2016 UC football season. Hopefully the narrower pitch doesn’t minimize these opportunities. Defensively the keys for FC Cincinnati will be to control Estrada’s playmaking ability and employ discipline and focus in defense. FC Cincinnati cannot concede many set pieces to a taller Charlotte side that’s good in the air. The energy of a 11K+ inaugural home crowd will provide a big boost and carry FC Cincinnati to a convincing victory. FC Cincinnati 2-0 over Charlotte.
Brad Weigel – (2 PTS)
The only way I can compare the excitement for this game is thinking about what I was like as a 7 year old kid awaiting to see what presents I got Christmas morning. Was it better than I could ever imagined or will I get that soul crushing feeling when you realize what you ultimately wanted wasn’t there? These feelings of anticipation and anxiousness fill my mind as we see if Cincinnati is truly prepared for professional soccer.
Through two games we’ve seen a FC Cincinnati side dominate possession but their play has been slowed by either a soggy or slow pitch. I feel that ends Saturday night behind a 10,000+ crowd on the quick pitch of Nippert Stadium. This team was built for nights like these where it will be cool and dry allowing the players to race up and down the side lines pumping balls into a decent but not great Charlotte defense. Even without a goal, left winger Jimmy McLaughlin has been their best player and I think he tallies not once but twice. Sean Okoli (henceforth named Ugo) will show his nifty footwork once again and put this puppy to bed early. I predict a 3-0 FC Cincinnati win as John Harkes looks to personally end Cincinnati’s sporting misery.
Nick Seuberling – (1 PT)
As I mentioned on this week’s podcast, I think the large and rowdy crowd is going to amp these guys up. We saw FC Cincinnati jump out to a 2-0 lead last weekend. We also saw Charlotte give up a very early goal as well. This week on the John Harkes Radio Show, coach mentioned he wasn’t concerned with giving up goals as long as they are scoring more than they’re giving up. I’m hopeful that this back four as well as our GK Mitch Hildebrandt will come out and shut down the Independence attack. They’re due for a clean sheet. So with it being the home opener, a chilly day as well, I see the home side getting a 3-0 victory in the first leg of the Queen City Cup. I’m also going bold and predicting with the walk up crowd for Saturday’s game, FC Cincinnati will have over 15,000 tickets sold. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
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