FC Cincinnati heads to Nippert Stadium for their final tune-up of the 2018 preseason. The Orange & Blue welcome in USL Western Conference foe Sacramento Republic FC for the first time after drawing 2-2 away in 2017. Check out our 5 Things to Know in the lead-up to FC Cincinnati’s third season in the USL.
Where: Cincinnati, OH. – Nippert Stadium at University of Cincinnati
When: Saturday, March 10th at 4:00 p.m. EST
2017 Form: FC Cincinnati (USL-East) – 6th Place (12W-10L-10D, 46 pts.), Sacramento Republic FC (USL-West) – 8th Place (13W-12L-7D, 46pts)
March to Matchday Podcast – FC Cincinnati vs Sacramento Republic FC:
Join host Bryan Weigel @bryanweigel, he previews FC Cincinnati’s final preseason match of 2018 vs. Sacramento Republic FC. Joining Bryan on this week’s show is guest Matthew Weber (@maaronweber) of Indomitable City Soccer (@BlurbsIndomita) an SB Nation blog covering Republic FC.
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5 Things to Know
New Look Sacramento: Republic FC had their own preseason coaching change in 2018. Paul Buckle was removed on February 1st and replaced by longtime MLS player and SAC academy coach Simon Elliott. Coach Elliott looks to be changing up the playing style in the capital city of California, moving into a high press 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 from Buckle’s 4-2-3-1. Sacramento has had varying success in their preseason drawing a competitive Fresno FC 1-1 this past weekend. Republic FC has conceded a goal in all four matches of the preseason allowing 1 to LAFC, 3 to Seattle, and 1 to Sacramento Gold FC. Their new playing style has improved their looks on goal but has also allowed opponents frequent opportunities with LAFC logging 25 shots in their meeting.
Attack Revival: If Sacramento is to succeed in 2018, they will need to rely on veteran forward Wilson Kneeshaw and attacking midfielder Villyan Bijev. Kneeshaw’s pace will always make for an interesting defensive matchup, but will he be able to improve upon his 5 goal tally from 2017? The departure of second-leading goalscorer Samuel Ochoa to Las Vegas will put more pressure on Bijev to push his goal tally to double-digits while creating more chances for the Republic. The 2016 USL assist champion will have to take Sacramento on his back if they hope to push for a championship in 2018. Look for these two players to make a difference on Saturday.
Swiss-Cheese: Both FC Cincinnati and Sacramento will look to improve upon their defensive performances of 2017. FCC allowed 51 goals in the prior campaign while Republic FC conceded 46. Sacramento has added center backs Mitch Taintor (TFC2) and Cole Seiler (Vancouver Whitecaps FC) to the back line. Both CB’s stand above 6 feet and will be able to battle the Cincinnati forwards. Dekel Keinan and Forrest Lasso received the start last weekend and I am expecting them to be Cincinnati’s CB pairing on Saturday. Coach Koch has been about finding the best pairings on the field this offseason and if these two start and play well, I’d expect they will start in Charleston.
How to Get Forward: Saturday’s match vs Nashville was a tale of two halves. In the first FC Cincinnati was stuck in the mud for the first 30 minutes and struggled to get forward. The ball would get caught up in the midfield and was turned over frequently. That changes late in the first and into the second as FCC moved the ball quickly and sent bodies forward to put Nashville on their back foot. Look for Cincinnati to maintain that playing speed and take advantage of a new SAC defense.
Finally our XI?: We have all been waiting to see who Koch prefers in the Starting XI. Kenney Walker was out of action for a personal conflict vs. NSC and Naz Albadawi seems to have regained fitness after a back injury. These two players were slated to start in the offseason and I’d expect them to go if healthy. Naz played 45 minutes vs. UC on Wednesday and would seem to be eligible. If Koch goes back to his starters vs. Nashville, we could see Spencer Richey between the sticks. I still find it possible for former Republic FC keeper Evan Newton to get the nod against his former club, but it’s time to focus on putting the best option forward. Also look to see if left wing Lance Laing goes. He was held out of practice for a time on Friday and could see limited action. Look for most of this Saturday’s squad to start vs. Charleston next weekend.
STREAM: Stream is not available. We will have coverage on site and will LIVE TWEET to the best of our ability. Also look out for recap & video content Saturday evening.
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@bryanweigel of @CincySoccerTalk