On Friday afternoon, the United Soccer League (USL) released its slate of home-opening matches for the 2018 season. The announcement is cause for excitement for FC Cincinnati as the club will travel to the Charleston Battery, Indy Eleven and will host rival Louisville City FC in the first four weeks of the season.
FC Cincinnati will continue a three-season tradition, traveling to the Charleston Battery for their first match. The March 17th fixture is filled with many storylines as newcomer Forrest Lasso faces his former squad. Can FC Cincinnati finally get a win against Charleston? Will the star-studded new squad be up to the task of three straight road games? One thing is for certain, this new squad has a chance to immediately make their mark on the USL season by winning a match no previous FCC squad has won.
Historically, Charleston has been a tough team to play at home, but their 2018 roster looks depleted. After their success in 2017, many fantastic players were poached by other teams including Lasso by FC Cincinnati. The USL 1st team defender will need to hold off the attack on his former home turf. The Eastern Conference has improved overall, and points on the road will be crucial this year.
Through a process of elimination, we can determine that a match on the weekend of March 24th will be away against North Carolina FC or the Charlotte Independence. Either way, the club will be up for a tough road match in North Carolina.
The final of three-straight road games puts FCC close to home. On Saturday, March 31st, Cincinnati will battle Indy Eleven, the USL’s newest team. The Eleven, formerly of the NASL, is no stranger to winning and is eager to show their home fans they can succeed in the USL. Not to be outdone, Cincinnati fans will flood I-74 to watch the Orange and Blue so close to home. The Midwest regional rivalries are expected to be the highlight of the USL season, and the battle begins in Indy.
Finally, FC Cincinnati will come home on April 7th and the “War of all Wars” will commence. The nemesis in purple: the streamer hating, costume wearing, Louisville City FC faithful will enter Nippert for the first leg of the Dirty River Derby.
Louisville has managed to hold onto much of their championship squad and this should be the toughest match of this stretch. Only four matches into the season, FC Cincinnati fans will have a good gauge on what direction the season is headed by facing these quality opponents.
FC Cincinnati fans will have to be patient for the April 7th home opener. If FC Cincinnati and the USL schedule similarly as the past, we should see a lot of matches in heat of the summer. With the improvements to Nippert ongoing and the home slate of UC home football matches in September, expect to see many matches in the heat of the summer. We can’t wait to get back to Nippert and hope to see the full USL schedule next week.
Stay tuned to Cincinnati Soccer Talk for breaking news surrounding FC Cincinnati.
Which announced match are you most looking forward to?
— Cincy Soccer Talk (@cincysoccertalk) January 12, 2018