Coming off a 0-0 result in Pittsburgh and a fortunate draw between Richmond and Charlotte, FC Cincinnati needs only 2 points in their final 2 regular season games to lock up a home playoff game at Nippert. Saturday’s match up also has great meaning for their opponent Orlando City B. OCB will need points from this game to help clinch the 8th and final playoff berth. Check out the 7 things we think you should know going into Saturday’s match.
When: Saturday 7 p.m.
Where: Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
7 Things to Know
Pedro Ribeiro – Orlando City SC (MLS) forward Pedro Ribeiro made his return from injury last week vs. Toronto FC II. In April, the Brazilian-American was diagnosed with a disc injury in his back which required surgery and a long lay off. Throughout 2015, Ribeiro was an effective back up to Cyle Larin playing in 18 MLS matches and recording 3 goals and 2 assists. During his 5 month layoff, Ribeiro didn’t know if he would be able to make a return to the pitch, but after a better than expected recovery was able to see time for his parent club’s USL side in Toronto. Look for Ribeiro to make the trip to Cincinnati this weekend and partner with MLS loanee Hadji Barry for a potentially explosive attacking line.
Orlando B Supporting Parent Club – On and off the field, many have already considered the OCB squad as a success. New MLS Orlando City coach Jason Kreis has praised the young squad and has even signed former OCB players in defender Mikey Ambrose and midfielder Tony Rocha to MLS contracts in August. Like Ribeiro, Orlando City B has also given some MLS OCSC players a chance for minutes. Forward Hadji Barry has spent time with both sides this season notching 4 goals in 9 USL matches.
Orlando Stumbling to Finish – The relationship with the MLS parent club also has its negative aspects. A drop in form accompanied the signing/departure of Rocha and Ambrose to the MLS side. Those two players had logged over 1500 minutes each in the first 19 games for OCB. The squad has had to shift players around to fill those holes leading to a 7 game winless streak. OCB has only recorded 2 wins since the beginning of July and have really struggled offensively scoring only 10 goals in 12 matches. The addition of Ribeiro could help as OCB must earn points to maintain the 8th & final USL Eastern Conference playoff spot.
That Time in Orlando – OCB looks significantly different since the time FC Cincinnati visited Orlando on May 4th. Their best player at the time was forward Bryan Rochez who has been loaned to Real Espana in Honduras. The Orange & Blue walked away with a 3-1 victory after goals by Sean Okoli, Kenney Walker and a last second goal by Eric Stevenson. Key contributors Michael Cox and Tyler Turner are still on the OCB roster and will look to combine on play forward. The 3-1 result for FC Cincinnati was first and only time the Orange & Blue have scored over two goals this season.
FC Cincinnati’s Best XI – Coach Harkes drew some interesting reactions on social media Wednesday night by running out several new faces in the starting XI. Omar Mohamed, Casey Townsend and Evan Lee all made starting appearances in what looked like an attempt to give some traditional starters a rest. With the stakes being higher on Saturday, I would think that a more traditional XI with Berry, McLaughlin and possibly Townsend or Ripoll. It is essential to earn 3 points on Saturday and secure a home playoff game.
New USL Record? – FC Cincinnati announced on Wednesday that it has presold over 20,000 tickets to Saturday’s regular season home finale. FCC could set a new USL attendance mark if the current trend of walk-ups, student tickets and a potential rush from Oktoberfest Zinzinnati remain consistent with game trends. The current USL record of 23,375 was set by FC Cincinnati on May 17th vs. the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Make sure to get your tickets, bring your friends and family and make history at Nippert Stadium.
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) September 14, 2016
Home Field Advantage – We have all heard about how the large crowds at Nippert hype players of both teams, but when you really look at the numbers, FC Cincinnati have been dominant at home. In 14 home games, FCC has won 8, drawn 4 and lost 2 (NYRBII & LouCity). The importance of picking up 3 points this weekend cannot be underestimated. Even though 2 points in the last 2 games will clinch a home playoff game, getting 3 at home could go a long way in locking up the 3rd seed. Charlotte hosts Rochester then travels to LouCity to end the year so we could potentially lock up the 3rd spot this weekend with a win and a Charlotte loss. Plus, wouldn’t we love to travel to Louisville (2 seed) than New York if we reach the Eastern Conference semis?
Stay tuned to Cincinnati Soccer Talk for Staff Predictions and more news and information leading up to the Orlando City B match!
The supporters groups will be taking up residence at their favorite pre-match locations before kickoff. Don’t forget to enjoy Oktoberfest Zinzinnati this weekend with your favorite hometown club! See the list below for more information.
Die Innenstadt: Mecklenburg Gardens – 302 E University Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45219
The Pride: The Brass Tap – 251 Calhoun St, Cincinnati, OH 45219
Lowen de Sudens: Barleycorn’s – 1073 Industrial Rd, Cold Spring, KY 41076
Queen City Firm: Mio’s Pizzeria Pub – 2634 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45219
Queen City Mafia: Adriatico’s Parking Lot Tailgate – 113 W McMillan St, Cincinnati, OH 45219
RADIO: Join the Voice of FC Cincinnati Tom Gelehrter on 1530AM ESPN Radio.
CST Player of the Year Award
CincinnatiSoccerTalk.com is having our first-ever CST Player of the Year Award. CST readers will get to vote on the nominees put forward by our staff. You can vote by clicking on the poll below or research the top contenders here first. Voting ends after the final regular season game.