FC Cincinnati kicks off 4 straight USL home matches this weekend when they play host to the Harrisburg City Islanders at Nippert Stadium Saturday night. The last time these two teams faced off was earlier this month when both teams played to a 1-1 draw.
FC Cincinnati is coming off a cancellation. Their trip to Charlotte last weekend was postponed due to poor field conditions.
Harrisburg won on Tuesday night against Toronto FC II and have secured 7 points out of their 5 most recent matches. They come into Saturday night’s match having won their last two USL games. Here’s how we think the match will play out in our Staff Predictions.
With an important upcoming U.S. Open Cup match on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Coach John Harkes has his work cut out for him Saturday night in balancing a squad coming off a long layoff. Will he hold back any starters so they can go for the win in Tampa and face the Columbus Crew SC in the next round of the Open Cup, or will he go for an important 3 points in conference play? His decision was made even more difficult when news came out this week that Captain Austin Berry could be available for selection. Even though Paul Nicholson has performed admirably in Berry’s absence, I think it is important to get the Captain back into the lineup as soon as possible to get him match fit in time for a busy summer. With the long layoff I can’t predict a shut out but I will go with a 2-1 win for the home team!
After a break well over a week in time, FC Cincinnati will be on the pitch again. Harrisburg has been on a hot streak relative to their early season play, but they are not nearly as rested as FCC. Our boys in orange and blue are on quite the hot streak themselves. A fully rested team that has collected 11 out of 15 points in their last five matches will be hoping to continue the trend. Yet again, Austin Berry’s health will be a question mark, but Paul Nicholson has done very in his place at center back. Harrisburg has been finding their offensive push now more than ever, which leads me to believe that they will score, but goalie Mitch Hildebrandt and the defensive back line will keep that to a minimum. FC Cincinnati Soccer Ball Kickers will win by a count of 2-1.
Keeping it simple: FC Cincinnati is better than Harrisburg, but the Islanders are better than most people think and are in good form lately. FCC is well rested, Harrisburg is not. These factors combined with home field advantage should be enough to see FCC get all three points but not by a large margin. 2-1 to the Orange and Blue.
As Thin Lizzy said, “The Boys are Back in Town”, and are here to kick off a stretch of 4 consecutive Saturday home matches in USL play. This week’s test features a Harrisburg squad in the middle of a tough stretch of 6 games in 17 days. It’s also our first opponent we will have faced for the second time. I did not rate them highly in the first match but they looked to have bettered their form winning their last 3 contests in all competitions. While they’ve played a lot over the last 10 days, our starters haven’t played meaningful minutes in 2 weeks and that scares me. I think there could be rust and if Harrisburg can capitalize on their opportunities, it could be a close match. I think FCC will concede early but recover enough to capture a 2-1 win. Go Orange & Blue!!!
For me I think there’s a combination of factors going into this match. For starters, FC Cincinnati hasn’t played competitively in two weeks. There’s going to be some inevitable rust. Harrisburg’s playing their third match in a week so you know they won’t have their legs. It’s going to be a warm muggy night down on that hot turf too. I’ll take the rested side and hope that FC Cincinnati gets a 2nd straight USL clean sheet with a 1-0 win over Harrisburg.
Harrisburg comes to Cincinnati for their 4th game in 10 days, starting with an Open Cup game on the 18th and culminating with their 3rd consecutive win against Toronto FC II. It’s unclear what lineup they used for the Open Cup game, but the Bethlehem Steel match-up featured 11 players without any subs and the Toronto game featured most of those same players getting significant time. I believe that Harrisburg is being selective and focused on the lower hanging fruit of the previous games. For the game against the Blue and Orange, they will have to choose between players who get less time on the pitch or players with tired legs. Their next 10 days includes 3 away games and they will be struggling to manage their players through this stint. With 2 weeks of rest, things might be a little sloppy for FCC and Harrisburg’s Wheeler and Wilson are both finding the back of the net regularly now. Because of this, I don’t see us managing a clean sheet, but I think that the Islanders will wear down and we’ll manage to get several goals this game ending with a 3-1 win for the Queen City.