Where: Pittsburgh, PA. – Highmark Stadium
When: Saturday – 7 p.m.
7 Things to Know
Last Time Out – FC Cincinnati locked up a First Round home match in the USL Eastern Conference Playoffs with a 1-0 win Saturday night vs. Orlando City B. With Charlotte’s loss they also secured the Third seed in the East. Newly acquired Casey Townsend provided the lone goal as he connected on Eric Stevenson’s cross in the 81st minute to grab all 3 points for his new club. This helped put fans of the Orange & Blue at ease after last Wednesday’s game in Pittsburgh after FCC was unable to score, settling for 1 point. John Harkes’ squad dominated that match for a large duration, but changed when Crew SC loanee Marshall Hollingsworth entered the match as a sub. Look for Hollingsworth to potentially grab more minutes this weekend before his loan spell ends.
Hounds draw Bethlehem Steel FC – Corey Hertzog put the Hounds on the board in the 9th minute after converting a penalty kick. Pittsburgh continued its recent form trying to stay compact and withstand pressure for most of the match. Bethlehem Steel FC were finally able to tie the match in the 68th minute. Pittsburgh was almost able to gain the lead back in the 75th minute but Hartzog’s chip was cleared off the line by new NY Cosmos signing Ryan Richter.
Do we see starters this Saturday? – This is a big question. Do you play for march sharpness or shoot for a healthy XI? I could see several of our starters begin the match, with hopefully all 5 subs being used quickly after halftime. Does Harkes allow Sean “Ugo” Okoli to continue pursuing the Golden Boot, or do we want our best offensive threat to rest? This could also be a good opportunity to see Casey Townsend up top to continue to mesh with several teammates especially his wingers Wiedeman and McLaughlin.
Okoli and the Quest for the Golden Boot – With one game remaining, Sean “Ugo” Okoli remains in pole position for the USL Golden Boot Award. The award is given to the USL player who has scored the most goals in a season is currently deadlocked with Okoli and Jack McBean tied with 15 goals, but Okoli has the advantage is assists along with McBean loaned out to Coventry City.
How does Townsend factor into the squad moving forward? – It didn’t take long for the newest FC Cincinnati member to get on the scoresheet. Townsend scored his first FCC goal off a great service from midfielder Eric Stevenson. The veteran will need to continue to work well with teammates in practice but has already shown that he is a good signing. If Harkes wants to employ a 4-4-2, I could see Townsend get a start. However, if he returns to the 4-2-3-1 from over the weekend, look for Townsend to be one of the first subs off the bench.
Who we could face next Sunday? – If we thought the race for third was tight, just look at positions 4-7. Charlotte (49pts, +19 GD), Charleston (48, +6), Rochester, (48, +12) and Richmond (45, +9) all have the potential to be the 6th seed and our opponent. Charleston hosts NYRB II while Charlotte travels to Louisville. Richmond and Rochester have easier opponents with the Kickers traveling to Wilmington and Rochester hosting TFC2. All 4 of these clubs have given FCC fits at times this season with the only win at home in April vs. Charlotte.
Nicholson’s spot in XI – Paul Nicholson returned to the Starting XI in both matches last week. The defensive midfielder/central defender limited opposing attacks and provided great cover for the back four. I was impressed with his contributions and this could allow Harkes to employ Corben Bone further up the field. His veteran presence can help set the tone early in the difficult matches ahead and help FCC march into the playoffs.
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.