FC Cincinnati (13-6-7) at Wilmington Hammerheads FC (7-11-9)
Wilmington, North Carolina
Sunday, September 11th, 3pm ET kickoff
FC Cincinnati travels south to face the Wilmington Hammerheads on Sunday, in a match that will be immediately followed by road game in Pittsburgh next Wednesday. The Orange and Blue will be confident entering this match after getting back on track Monday with a late winner against Saint Louis FC. The Hammerheads have a lot to play for though. There is only one playoff spot left in the Eastern Conference, and the Wilmington is battling Orlando City B for a postseason berth.
Look for the following players to impact tomorrow’s match.
Sean “Ugo” Okoli – With two goals in Monday’s victory, Okoli is in fine goalscoring form. He has moved into a tie for 2nd place in goals scored in the USL and has made himself a legitimate contender for the Golden Boot. He is a player who at times has been criticized for his work rate, but the effort and passion he has shown in the last three matches has been second to none.
Austin Berry – Team captain Austin Berry will need to lead his team through a tricky contest tomorrow. Wilmington is a team FCC should expect to beat, but they are playing on home turf and will be motivated by their playoff potential. It’s been six games since FCC has been able to keep a clean sheet, and the defense will need to be watertight. The Hammerheads were able to largely neutralize FC Cincinnati’s offense at Nippert earlier in the season in a game that ended in a 1-1 draw.
Bruno Perone – Wilmington’s towering six foot four inch center back Bruno Perone is the Hammerheads leading scorer with eight goals this season. The Brazilian is sound defensively, a force to be reckoned with on set pieces, and scored the only goal for Wilmington when these teams met earlier in the season.
The mission for FC Cincinnati in the last four games of the season is clear. Win. They currently own third place in the Eastern Conference but not by much. They need to “win out” in order to ensure they maintain their position and secure a home playoff game. There are four teams on their heels that could leapfrog them if they slip up.
FCC’s chances of getting enough goals to keep winning will be helped by the recent signing of forward Casey Townsend from Wilmington. How exactly Townsend fits into the squad remains to be seen, but it’s a positive move by Harkes and the front office as they head into the business end of the season. Townsend will not be available to play in Sunday’s match as part of the terms of the transfer agreement.
Stay tuned to Cincinnati Soccer Talk for our Staff Predictions segment and Sunday’s coverage of the Wilmington match.