FC Cincinnati will face English Premier League side Crystal Palace FC Saturday night at Nippert Stadium. It is difficult to only point out 7 things to know for this match up, so we decided to elaborate on 7 larger topics this week. We have outlined the history of Crystal Palace, their players, current form and more. We hope you enjoy this in depth piece.
How did they get their name?: The name Crystal Palace is most associated with the Crystal Palace Exhibition (right) that stood in two different parts London from 1851 through 1936. However, the football club was actually formed by the Crystal Palace Company to play in a soccer stadium named Crystal Palace Football Ground not far away. The Company owned the ground that hosted the FA Cup Finals from 1895-1914 and were looking to create a team to fill the stadium on a permanent basis. Formed in 1905, “The Eagles” have spent most of their 110 years playing in the lower tiers of English Football. Not until the late 1970’s, did their supporters see them compete for consistent places in the two highest tiers of soccer in England. The Eagles were in need of a rescue in 2010 after the club was put into administration by the English FA for not having sound finances. The current owner and chairperson Steve Parish organized a group to purchase the club and have since led Palace to their longest run in the Premier League. The club has made their home in Selhurst Park (25,073) since 1924 after leaving their original Crystal Palace Ground in 1915 and bouncing around other homes due to World War I.
Premier League History: The 2016–17 season will be Crystal Palace’s fourth consecutive season in the Premier League and their 111th year in existence. The upcoming season will also be their 17th competing in a top flight of English football. Crystal Palace was an inaugural member of the Premier League in 1992/93, but was relegated to the League Championship on the final day. Crystal Palace returned to the Premiership three more times following relegation, but after achieving promotion for the 2013/14 season, Palace has managed to stay in the top flight.
Who’s Here: Several new Crystal Palace FC players look to make their debut on the 2016 North American Trip, which also includes stops in Philadelphia and Vancouver. Key signing center back James Tomkins comes to Palace from West Ham United after an 8 season run with the Hammers. Winger Andros Townsend joins Palace from recently relegated Newcastle United. Townsend was a bright spot for the northern club scoring 4 goals in 13 games after beginning the season with Tottenham. Returning players Wilfried Zaha, Jason Puncheon, Joel Ward, Bakary Sako, Pape Souare, Yannick Bolasie and Capt. Mile Jedinak headline the roster with the final three arriving to the tour after Philadelphia. FC Cincinnati fans will see a squad with great athleticism and a tough defense. Palace finished tied for 10th in goals allowed, but scored the second fewest amount of goals last season. We may see Connor Wickham, Fraizer Campbell or Freddie Ladapo up as last seasons (cup+league) leading scorer Dwight Gayle was sold to Newcastle.
Who’s Not: It’s easy to focus on the fact one of Palace’s best players Yohan Cabaye will not be joining the team for their tour. With a long Euro Championships Cabaye and new goalkeeper Steve Mandanda will stay at home for the trip. With three forwards in Emmanuel Adebayor, Dwight Gayle and Marouane Chamakh gone from the club, FC Cincinnati may have a chance to pull off an upset if Palace’s form of low scoring continues.
Who’s In Charge: With over 125 appearances for the club as a player, current Manager Alan Pardew returned to Selhurst Park on January 3rd, 2015 from Newcastle United. After guiding the Eagles out of the relegation battle that season, Pardew managed to get the team to a 10th place finish, their second best in the Premier League. Pardew has managed 6 English clubs including Reading, West Ham, Charlton, Southampton, Newcastle and Crystal Palace. Check out this video of Pardew from the 2016 FA Cup Final.
How did they do last season?: The Eagles finished in 15th place on the Premier League Table for the 2015/16 season. That is a bit deceiving since Palace was 5th on the table at the halfway mark of the season. A stretch of 9 losses and 2 ties in their next 11 games almost saw the Eagles drop out of the Premier League, but a couple wins and draws through their last 7 games saw them remain safe. A 15th place finish after such a drop off could have seen major shake ups to management and squad, but the Eagles made deep run to the final of the FA Cup making 2015/16 a memorable if not “successful” season. Palace was led in Premier League goals by Yohan Cabaye, Connor Wickham, Yannick Bolasie and Scott Dann who all netted 5 on their campaign.
Why is this game important?: A soccer game of this magnitude has not been played in Cincinnati since the U.S. Women’s National Team hosted New Zealand in Paul Brown Stadium in 2004. 18,806 fans watched the best team in the world play that October, however that number could pale in comparison to the fervor FC Cincinnati has created for this match. Over 30,000 tickets have been sold with the entire lower bowl sold and sections 202-210 sold out in the upper level. An estimated 35,000-40,000 fans are expected on Saturday, but that number could rise if decent weather is forecast. There are several additional factors on why this game is important for MLS aspirations.
The tickets are sold at a higher price than normal USL matches. A lower level half line seat is $30 compared to regular season of $25. The Bailey has the biggest differential in cost with a USL game at $10 and the Palace at $20. Upper level seats are not normally sold for a USL match, but for Crystal Palace they are being sold for $20 and $15 respectively.
Major League Soccer could also look at this match to see what kind of numbers a higher level of competition may draw and how well they can accommodate that crowd size at Nippert Stadium. MLS clubs averaged 23,382 fans per match this weekend. If FC Cincinnati can show that this market is capable of drawing 30,000+ fans to a game, it is another quality line on a potential MLS resume. I am not saying that 30,000 fans guaranteed that MLS would even care, but with a smaller ticket staff, less resources and a “non-major league” brand, 30K would be one heck of an accomplishment.
Alex McCarthy (England), Kleton Perntreou (Greece), Julian Speroni (Argentina)
Jerome Binnom-Williams (England), Luke Croll (England), Scott Dann (England), Damien Delaney (Ireland), Zeki Fryers (England), Martin Kelly (England), Pape Souare^ (Senegal), James Tomkins* (England), Joel Ward (England)
Hiram Boateng (England), Yannick Bolasie^ (Congo), Mile Jedinak^ (Australia), Sullay Kaikai (England), Chung-yong Lee (South Korea), James McArthur (Scotland), Jordon Mutch (England), Jason Puncheon (England), Bakary Sako (Mali), Andros Townsend* (England), Wilfried Zaha (England)
Fraizer Campbell (England), Freddie Ladapo (England), Connor Wickham (England).
*Denotes new signing
^Denotes Arriving after Philadelphia Game
Check out our Crystal Palace Weekend Events Schedule. There is much going around the city in anticipation for Saturday’s match.
Also for a more in depth game day experience. Visit Sixth Day Soccer’s FC Cincinnati Matches 101. Provides good insight on how fans can make the most of their experience while at Nippert Stadium.
Be sure to check out our recent announcement of the Cincinnati Soccer Talk FootGolf Classic and sign your team up TODAY! Stay tuned to Cincinnati Soccer Talk for staff analysis leading up to this weekend’s match.