Third place FC Cincinnati (12W-4L-6D, 42pts) will take on the sixth place Rochester Rhinos (10-5-9, 39pts) Wednesday night in Nippert Stadium. Check out the 7 things we think you should know going into Wednesday night’s match.
That Time in Rochester – FC Cincinnati was defeated 2-1 in the clubs first-ever match on July 6th in Rochester. The Rhino’s were able to get on the board first in the 34th minute on a goal by midfielder Michael Garzi. Rochester was able to add an insurance goal in the 65′ minute on a PK by Steevan dos Santos. Harriosn Delbridge knocked over the attacking player in the box to concede the opportunity. Midfielder Andrew Wiedeman was taken down in the box at the 75′ to earn a PK. Sean “Ugo” Okoli slotted home the spot kick for the only score for FCC. Cincinnati had several chances in the dying minutes, but couldn’t get an equalizer in the road loss.
Get a Point – Rochester has put up a road record of (2-3-6) focusing on getting a draw. Rochester Coach Bob Lilley has always been respected as a great defensive mind and his team has again adopted that philosophy on the road. Rochester has conceded 9 goals in 11 road matches while only scoring 9 of their 30 total this season on the road. Look for Rochester to bunker as they did at home and catch FC Cincinnati on the counter.
No Sean Okoli – The Orange & Blue will be without starting forward Sean “Ugo” Okoli for the first time all season. Okoli picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in the draw at Richmond and will have to serve his mandatory one-game suspension. The big question is, who will start on top? If Coach Harkes continues to use his 4-1-4-1 formation, you could see Wiedeman or Cummings move up top with the other out on the right wing. If he is healthy, look for Kenney Walker to regain his starting spot in the midfield allowing Harkes to potentially to move the in-form Wiedeman out wide or forward.
Playoff Push – Have you looked at the USL Eastern Conference table recently? It is getting congested in and around spots 3-7. FC Cincinnati has a two point lead over 4th place Richmond with two games in hand. Charlotte and Rochester sit in 5th & 6th with 39 points, but FCC have 1 game in hand with Charlotte & 2 in hand on Rochester. The real test for FC Cincinnati is how close can they get to Louisville & New York. FC Cincinnati is 8 points behind New York with 2 games in hand including a head to head match up on Sunday in New York. If they can win the next two vs. Rochester & NY they have a realistic chance of winning the east. If they somehow drop points, they are 5 points behind Louisville with a whopping 3 games in hand. A 2nd place finish would be big for FCC as they would host a second round game if they qualify and win their first playoff match. Read more here.
Field Conditions – August begins the time of year where FC Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati football team begin their ground-share in Nippert Stadium. The operations teams of each organization have tested out the “inter-changeable” parts of the pitch where UC will put their end-zones and logos on the field with success. UC football also is beginning to practice on the surface potentially affecting the settling of the turf under-lay material. We will see if any of this will effect the quality of soccer and how naturally the ball will play. According to members of each organization, the ground-share has worked well to date and the changeable parts have fit well. I am interested to hear what the players think in the after-match press conference.
Return to the Field – FC Cincinnati is hoping several key players can return on Wednesday night. Injured midfielders Kenney Walker and Paul Nicholson featured in a mid-week scrimmage last Wednesday and it looks like they could each play. Starting centerback Austin Berry was pulled early from the match in Richmond and had his leg wrapped. The long layoff should help in his return.
Execution – Rochester will try and put as many people behind the ball as possible on Wednesday. FC Cincinnati will have to make every chance count vs. the stout Rhino’s defense. The orange & blue will need to improve on their last performance of 1 goal on 12 shots vs. Richmond. If they don’t, hold your breathe for some last minute excitement.
RADIO: Join the Voice of FC Cincinnati Tom Gelehrter on 1530AM ESPN Radio
TWITTER: Make sure to follow our @CincySoccerLive Twitter account for live twitter updates during the match.