The Orange and Blue return home this Saturday to face the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in a much-hyped rivalry showdown at Nippert Stadium. FC Cincinnati (4-2-2) enters the match in 4th place in the Eastern Conference while the Riverhounds (0-3-3) sit in 13th, just one spot above last place. Cincinnati Soccer Talk offers 7 things to know about this Saturday’s contest.
1. Believe the Hype – Carl Lindner III has written a letter to Cincinnati asking the city to come out and fill Nippert with at least 25 thousand fans. Everyone attending is encouraged to wear orange to the game and “Orange Out” Nippert on Saturday. The team will be wearing a new third kit that features Orange as the top color, reversing their normal color pattern. Regardless of the game’s outcome, there is a ton of hype building up to Saturday’s match and it should prove to be quite a spectacle.
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) May 10, 2016
2. Fútbol Meets Football – In honor of the rivalry with Pittsburgh, several Cincinnati Bengals will be making an appearance at Saturday’s game. Giovani Bernard, Vontaze Burfict, Jeremy Hill, Kevin Huber, Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick and Domata Peko will be introduced on the field prior to the game and will serve as honorary captains. In case, you missed it, check out our Bengals starting eleven article.
As part of being selected to represent the Bengals on Saturday, defensive tackle Domata Peko spoke about the sports friction between the two cities. “Cincinnati and Pittsburgh is probably one of the nastiest rivalries in football. Whenever we play Pittsburgh everyone wants us to beat them. That’s how I feel when it comes to soccer. Hopefully we can get this big win.”
3. Wherefore Art Thou Romeo? – The Riverhounds will be without their leading goalscorer Romeo Parks on Saturday, which will be a huge advantage for FCC. Parkes was permanently released by the Riverhounds after violently kicking an opposition player during their meeting with Red Bulls II last Saturday. If you want to see some truly nasty stuff, check out this video of the event and Parkes subsequent ejection. Apparently the Steelers don’t have the market cornered on dirty hits. Also check the Die Innenstadt blog of the same name.
4. Danger Man – A key question for Pittsburgh will be who can pick up the slack for Romeo Parkes following his release. Corey Hertzog is the lead striker in their 4-5-1 formation and is the only player besides Parkes who has produced much offense this season. He has 15 shots on goal, with eight on target over 6 matches. He has tallied just one goal this season. Midfielders Kevin Kerr and Lebo Moloto combined for 16 goals last season and will look to contribute as well.
5. Ohio Ties – As of 2016, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds are the official USL affiliate of Columbus Crew SC. The MLS side has loaned midfielders Ben Swanson and Marshall Hollingsworth to Pittsburgh as part of the arrangement. Hollingsworth has secured the most playing time, featuring in 5 of Pittsburgh’s 6 matches. However, both of these players returned to play for Crew SC on Wednesday in their friendly match against Mexican first division side Veracruz. Given this, Swanson and Hollingsworth may see limited time or not feature at all for the Riverhounds on Saturday.
6. Playing Catch-Up – FC Cincinnati’s opponents have scored first in each of the past four matches. The Orange and Blue have come from behind to win two of those matches and secured a draw in each of the others. These displays of character have been great, but this is turning into a problematic habit. Let’s hope they can reverse the trend on Saturday. An early goal for the hometown team would turn up the heat on Pittsburgh in a brimming Nippert stadium.
7. Original 11 – The FC Cincinnati starting eleven featured 3 changes last Saturday. Derek Luke, Antoine Hoppenot and Omar Cummings all saw their first start of the season in a lukewarm performance against Harrisburg. It’s likely that normal service will resume and Harkes will return to the starting eleven that featured in the first several matches. The one exception is Austin Berry who will likely miss another match due to injury.
Any self-respecting FC Cincinnati fan will clearly be attending in person at Saturday’s game. The following information regarding TV and radio coverage should therefore be completely irrelevant but, just in case, here it is.
Radio: ESPN 1530 (iHeartRadio)
Stay tuned to Cincinnati Soccer Talk for staff predictions on Friday and more news and analysis leading up to this weekend’s match.
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