When: Saturday April 16th, 7pm kickoff
Where: Nippert Stadium, on the campus of the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
TV: WSTR-TV (STAR 64) OR watch via streaming internet at FC Cincinnati’s pub partners or on Youtube’s USL channel.
Radio: ESPN 1530 (iHeartRadio)
On Saturday night, FC Cincinnati hosted 14,658 fans for their inaugural USL home match in Nippert Stadium. Cincinnati fans should be proud, since this was the largest attended match in the United Soccer League since August 28, 2015 when Real Monarchs hosted 13,979 fans in Rio Tinto Stadium.
This is also the second game where $1 youth tickets 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: Louisville City FC
Louisville City FC or LouCity (2-1-0) currently have 6 points and sit 4th in the USL’s Eastern Conference with a +2 goal differential.
Similar to last week’s opponent Charlotte, Louisville City FC played its first season in the USL last year. But unlike our Queen City Cup rival, LouCity had a wildly successful season culminating in an Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Rochester Rhinos.
Louisville City FC finished 2nd out of 12 teams in the Eastern conference on 48 points, good enough for the 2nd most points in all of the USL. Louisville City beat the Charleston Battery with 2 goals in overtime of the Eastern Conference Semi-finals, but lost 1-0 to the eventual USL Champion Rochester.
LouCity was talented on the defensive end last season finishing 3rd in the Eastern Conference with 34 goals allowed, but were most known for their high powered offense. Louisville will need to make up for the loss of several talented players this offseason. 2015 USL Golden Boot winner Matt Fondy and 2015 USL Defender of the Year Bryan Burke both joined the Jacksonville Armada of the NASL and were key contributors on the 2015 LouCity roster.
Louisville City FC is the former affiliate of Orlando City but the Lions now have their own USL squad. Cincinnati fans may know one name of the LouCity roster, as this marks Cincinnati native Kyle Smith’s (La Salle HS) homecoming. Coach James O’Connor’s side will be tough once again this year as they return standout players goalkeeper Scott Goodwin and defender Sean Reynolds.
Both clubs start strong
Both Louisville City and FC Cincinnati come into Saturday’s game with 2-1-0 records on 6 points. Louisville has a goal difference advantage so they are one spot ahead of FCC in 4th place. A win for FC Cincinnati would give them some momentum as they head to Toronto for a game next Sunday. It will also put FCC higher in the table than both its rivals, LouCity and Charlotte.
Kadeem Dacres – The speedy winger made a huge impact in his first start of the season Saturday vs. Orlando City B. Dacres who contributed with 6 goals and 2 assists last season scored one goal against Orlando and started a run along with a cross that led to another. The USL Team of the week member can feature on either side of the midfield, but scored his goal from the top of the 18. Most positive ball movement came when he was in possession. He has the capability to whip in good crosses or make plays with his feet.
(Courtesy of USL/YouTube)
Chandler Hoffman – The former LA Galaxy, Houston Dynamo and Colorado Switchbacks Striker, notched his first goal of the season on Saturday. Hoffman scored 13 goals in 17 games for Galaxy II in 2014. Chandler’s 2015 season included appearances for Houston and included a loan spell in which he scored 4 goals in 10 games for Colorado Springs. LouCity will be looking for Hoffman to make up for the loss of MVP Matt Fondy. He will be a tough person to mark, so look for Harkes to have one of either Austin Berry or Harrison Delbridge shadow him all game.
Niall McCabe – Like Dacres, this attacking midfielder received his first start of the year last Saturday vs. Orlando. As the second member of LCFC named to the USL Team of the Week, McCabe was responsible for two assists on the evening. Coach O’Connor has utilized McCabe off the bench as a super-sub, so don’t be shocked if he enters the game early in the second half. He was third in shots on goal (4 goals on 36 shots) for 2015 version of LouCity, so he is not afraid to pull the trigger if he sees a chance.
The battle for the “River Cities Cup” begins?
In a promotion led by both clubs, fans had a choice to nominate and vote for their favorite derby name. The River Cities Cup was born and will be awarded to the team with the highest point total after the three games between the clubs. I believe that both fan bases will be invested in this rivalry since much has been said on social media between the two clubs supporters. Jeff Berding, President and General Manager of FC Cincinnati, has already said some 1,000 tickets have been sold to Louisville fans. This will no doubt be an exciting game and another fun experience for fans in the Queen City.
Nippert Stadium Upgrades
It’s no doubt there were some hiccups in regards to the stadium experience for fans last week. Long food, merchandise and ticket lines kept some fans out of their seats, but Berding and the staff have already taken steps to fix those problems. Additional merchandise and food options will be opened for this weekend along with upgrades to accommodate faster ticket and credit card processing. Please make sure to arrive early to ensure that you get to see kickoff. Festivities pregame start about 5-10 minutes early so make sure to get in your seats and cheer on the Orange & Blue.
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 several hours before the match at The Brass Tap in Clifton. Die Innenstadt will set up shop at Mecklenburg Gardens on East University in Corryville. 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. The groups hope to link up around the UC Baseball Complex and march in together.
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
Once again, it does not seem likely that we will see changes in starting personnel, formation or tactics from FC Cincinnati. The team is coming off two victories, so why rock the boat? One thing I would hope to see is the inclusion of Omar Cummings into the 18. I would also like to see Harkes utilize his subs in a better fashion. Several of our players including all of the back 4 looked gassed last week due to Charlotte’s high press.
FC Cincinnati will also need to maintain focus. After scoring their second goal of the game off an Austin Berry header, FCC quickly conceded to Charlotte. In my view, LouCity looks stronger on offense, so our midfield will need to identify counter-attacks quickly and support the defense.
One matchup to pay attention to is how FC Cincinnati will match up with the speed of Louisville’s counter. LouCity exploited sloppy giveaways by Orlando and quickly found themselves with a numbers advantage. Due to the Orange & Blue high press, any giveaways will have to be limited and FCC will need to stress a high possession game.
LouCity outside back and Cincinnati native Kyle Smith (La Salle HS) will play his first professional game in his hometown. The former Cincinnati Dutch Lions star was signed to his first pro contract this offseason with Louisville. He has started the first three games of the season and will have a big group of fans cheering him on from the west side.
Fellow Cincinnatian Austin Berry capped off his first USL home game in the Queen City by scoring the winning goal against Charlotte with of a diving header. I an interview with Fox 19 reflecting on the goal, Austin said that “growing up a Cincinnati sports fan, this is a dream come true.”
First Class Organization
On Thursday, FC Cincinnati released an ad in the Cincinnati Enquirer with a thank you to fans. Here is the message from Owner Carl Lindner III.
“We are blessed in life with special moments; this past Saturday, April 9th, was one such occasion. Cincinnati proved to the world that we are a big league soccer city!”
“Nippert Stadium looked terrific; the environment was simply tremendous, and our team played great – with two spectacular goals to secure the victory.”
“Thank you to the 14,658 fans who came out in support of FC Cincinnati, a League record for the season. Special thanks to the supporters groups, our season ticket holders, our sponsors and our friends at the University of Cincinnati whose special leadership made this night possible.”
“This Saturday, the season promises to get even hotter as we face our rivals from Louisville City. Come have fun with your family and friends and help us add another jewel to the crown of our Queen City.”
-Carl Lindner III
From this morning's Cincinnati Enquirer, a thank you …. pic.twitter.com/C5vZs2Lcz8
— Jeff Berding (@JeffBerding) April 14, 2016
(Courtesy Twitter/Jeff Berding)
How many other owners do that!
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