FC Cincinnati will travel to the Music City for its first league match with newcomer Nashville SC. The squads drew 2-2 in their preseason tilt, but one will be anxious to come away with three points this weekend. Check out our 5 Things to Know below for Saturday’s match.
Where: Nashville, TN – Nissan Stadium
When: Saturday, July 7th at 8:30 p.m. ET/7:30 CT
2018 Form: FC Cincinnati – 1st Place (10W-3L-4D, 34 pts.), Nashville SC – 3rd Place (7W-3L-5D, 26 pts.)
YOUR FAVORITE PEOPLE THIS WEEK – Ref Assignments:
REF: Lorant Varga, AR1: Walter Heatherly, AR2: Jennifer Garner, 4TH: Ben Meyer
5 Things to Know
Offense vs. Defense: Saturday’s match feature’s the USL’s top offense (Cincinnati – 35 goals) vs. the league’s second-best defense (Nashville SC – 10 goals conceded.) The attacking trio of Emmanuel Ledesma, Nazmi Albadawi, and Danni König will have its work cut out for it as it faces Matt Pickens (eight clean sheets) and Co. who have allowed four goals over their last five matches. Saturday’s contest could see NSC roll out a 4-5-1 that conceded the four goals or perhaps a 5-3-2 which posted a shut out in its last match vs. Atlanta. Look for an MLS-experienced back line that could feature Justin Davis (MNUFC), London Woodberry (NE Revolution), Kosuke Kimura (NYRB), Liam Doyle (Sporting KC), or Taylor Washington (Union).
Measuring Stick: FC Cincinnati has found its stride after making some tactical changes in its league match vs. Pittsburgh in April. The Orange & Blue have scored multiple goals in 10 out of 12 matches since that match, but seven of those have been vs. the league’s bottom five clubs. The last time FC Cincinnati has played a top 10 defense in league action was in a 3-2 win in Indianapolis on May 2. A strong result vs. Nashville could give FC Cincinnati confidence and show the USL that Cincinnati is indeed the best team in the Eastern Conference.
Brandon Allen: Nashville SC has been a different club after signing former USL Cup MVP Brandon Allen on May 22. The forward has scored three goals in five starts over seven league matches for NSC. He added a goal in its U.S. Open Cup Third Round match to bring his total to four goals in 10 matches. While individually that is smaller than several FCC players, Nashville has scored 10 goals in seven matches after his signing while scoring only seven goals in the eight games prior to his arrival. The expansion club is getting more familiar with one another, and the 24-year old’s addition was a much needed boost to its inaugural season.
The Ryan factor: The injury to star defensive midfielder Richie Ryan was felt immediately in the club’s 3-3 draw vs. Toronto FC 2 last week. FCC lost its defensive shape and struggled to leave Canada with one point. Veteran midfielder Michael Lahoud stepped into the deep-lying role on Saturday and helped organize the 2-0 shutout vs. the Ottawa Fury. Coach Alan Koch must now judge if he will leave Lahoud solo above the back four in a 4-4-2 diamond, or will he pinch him between Corben Bone and Kenney Walker in box-to-box roles. While not necessarily the best offensive team in the league, NSC will offer some tough matchups, especially with speedsters Ropapa Mensah and Alan Winn in starting roles or off the bench. They can also switch up their looks by pinching in attackers centrally to overload the middle or playing wide and providing service to Allen. Lahoud will need to organize his midfield and snuff out the attack before they can get into threatening spaces.
Away Field Advantage?: FC Cincinnati is no stranger to winning in hostile environments in 2018. With six away wins on the year, FCC has proved it can grind out road points, which has vaulted it to the top of the Eastern Conference table. The Orange & Blue must also contend with a large crowd this weekend in Nashville, but with routinely playing in front of a crowd numbering 25,000 or greater, they should have the toughness to come home with at least one point. This will fall most likely on the shoulders of center backs Forrest Lasso and Dekel Keinan along with Lahoud. These three must be in constant communication to cut off any defensive lapses. If Ledesma, König, or Albadawi can create a moment of brilliance, FCC should be able to come back to the Queen City with a point.
BONUS Interesting Stat: Nashville is good at scoring late goals. NSC has scored eight goals after the 75th minute. Let’s see if that factors into Koch’s substitutions on Saturday.
March to Matchday – FC Cincinnati at Nashville SC
Join host Bryan Weigel (@bryanweigel), as he welcomes guest Jonathan Slape (@JSlapeSSP) of the Speedway Soccer Podcast (@SoccerSpeedway) to preview Saturday’s match at Nashville SC
This show will hopefully fit in your drive time to work, to the pub on game day or lead you right up to game time. We hope you enjoy!
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Growler Cup – Round 18
Returning for 2018 is our Growler Cup! If you contribute $5/ month or more as a supporter of the site, you are entered into the Growler Cup prediction contest. Supporters of the show along with our hosts will predict the score and result for the upcoming week’s match. We have changed the rules for 2018. You get 3 pts for picking the correct result, 1 pt for correct FCC goals and 1pt for correct opponent goals. There will be many opportunities to win as well in 2018. Along with the overall champion (2017 – Chris Dimeo), fans can get on our show to chat with the staff or partake in a trivia contest by scoring the most amount of points in a given month. You will see the predictions of our staff below. Please consider supporting the site at CincinnatiSoccerTalk.com
TV: This contest is set for an 8:30 p.m. EST kickoff on Saturday night. Broadcasting partner Sinclair Broadcasting Group will now air all FC Cincinnati home & away matches. The broadcast duo of Tom Gelehrter and Kevin McCloskey will provide the play-by-play and color analysis to FCC fans live on WSTR Star 64. The match will also be broadcast at FC Cincinnati’s pub partners or by Streaming internet on ESPN+.
RADIO: ESPN 1530 AM
Stay tuned to our Twitter handle – @CincySoccerTalk, for updated information.
@BryanWeigel for @CincySoccerTalk