The Orange and Blue begin a four game home stand on Saturday when they face the Eastern Conference’s 8th place Harrisburg City Islanders (4-5-1) at Nippert Stadium. FC Cincinnati (5-2-2) comes into the contest in 4th place, after being leapfrogged in the standings last weekend. Cincinnati Soccer Talk offers 7 things to know to get you ready for this weekend’s contest.
1. Five Unbeaten – FCC are in great form coming into this match and have gone undefeated in their last five. During that time they’ve tallied 3 wins and 2 draws, accumulating 11 points. None of their next five opponents, including 1st place Louisville City FC, can boast a higher total over their 5 most recent league matches.
2. Fully Charged – Last Saturday’s match against Charlotte was postponed until August 31st, so Harkes’ men have benefitted from at least a week and half of rest following their May 18th win in the US Open Cup. Many of the starters didn’t participate in that match and therefore will have enjoyed two full weeks of rest heading into Saturday. The boys in Orange and Blue should be chomping at the bit to play again. In contrast, Harrisburg played last weekend and on Tuesday so the Islanders will be arriving short on rest.
3. Attendance Drop Off? Harrisburg, with due respect, is a smaller market team and is not a natural rival for Cincinnati. The match is not a home opener or a game with special significance. Attendance to date at Nippert has been spectacular by any standard, but we’re likely to see some drop off this weekend. The question is, by how much? Make sure Cincinnati maintains its place in the national headlines by showing up in force on Saturday. Buy tickets here.
4. Harrisburg’s Scoring Boots – Harrisburg went into their last meeting with FCC in very average goalscoring form, sporting a 1.33 goals per game average over their first six games. They’ve recently found their scoring boots and have totaled 7 goals in their last 3 contests, for a 2.33 goals per game average. Leading the charge for Harrisburg has been 6’4” forward Aaron Wheeler who’s netted 3 goals in the past 2 games.
5. Berry Back? Team captain Austin Berry has been out of the starting lineup since he sustained a thigh injury in training on April 29th. Patrick Brennan reports that he is day-to-day but could be available for selection this weekend. Paul Nicholson has deputized well for Berry during his injury, so expect Harkes to take a conservative approach to Berry’s return.
6. Jimmy Mac is on Fire! – Jimmy McLaughlin has scored 2 game winners in the past 2 matches and 3 goals in the last 3 games. He earned man of the match honors against Pittsburgh, and was selected as part of last week’s USL Team of the Week. His matches early in the season for the Orange and Blue featured a lot of quality play without much end product. He’s clearly making up for lost time.
7. Danger Man – Jimmy Mac may be on fire for FCC, but Paul Wilson has been just as hot for the Harrisburg City Islanders. The diminutive Jamaican attacking midfielder was recently described as a “gnat” by the not-so-stellar Harrisburg commentary crew, based on how he speedily covers the pitch and annoys the opposition. He’s been great in front of goal as well, providing 4 goals and 3 assists for the Islanders this season. His talent combined with the playmaking of ability of Real Madrid youth product Jose Barril in midfield will keep FCC very busy defensively.
Like I said last time, 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.