Where: Cincinnati, OH – Nippert Stadium
When: Saturday, July 28th at 7:30 p.m. ET
5 Things to Know
A Night for the Whole Team: As much as we would like to see our best XI play vs. a La Liga side, Saturday’s match is about celebrating the entire roster. Because of the astounding quality on FC Cincinnati and the chance of a regular season title, coach Alan Koch has not been able to play his entire roster. Quality pros such as Tomi Ameobi, Mark Village, and Sem de Wit have seen less than 100 minutes of play in 2018 and should get a chance for at least 45 minutes. Other players like Lance Laing and Tyler Gibson have faced injuries in 2018, and an opportunity to perform at game speed could help them catapult back into the lineup. One of the most memorable moments in the 2016 friendly vs. Crystal Palace was the performance of backup keeper Dan Williams. Will one of these guys leave an impression during this seasons match?
Tyler Gibson: The former San Francisco Deltas midfielder came into preseason camp with the expectation of being a consistent starter in the FCC midfield. An injury sustained during the preseason camp in Florida has sidelined the Knoxville, Tenn., native for league play, but Saturday should mark his FCC debut. While the former NASL champ has been on the mend, he has become a fan-favorite with his interactions on social media and in the community. I am sure he will receive a large ovation this weekend.
MLS Celebration: FC Cincinnati will celebrate its upcoming ascension to Major League Soccer with a host of special activities. In the cornerstone event of Saturday’s celebration, FCC will offer a special halftime program featuring club owners including Carl H. Lindner III, as well as special videos and on-field entertainment. Every fan in attendance will receive a commemorative MLS celebration poster, featuring a picture from Cincinnati’s public celebration at Fountain Square during the league’s announcement in May. Before the game, fans will also have the opportunity to pose with special life-sized MLS letters and other FCC props in front of the backdrop used at the MLS Announcement. This set-up will be on the east side of the stadium by Gate 2. Following the game, FC Cincinnati players will participate in special activities on the field, including a 30-minute autograph session and a kick-around with youth fans in attendance.
Los Periquitos in Flux: The 2018 opponent RCD Espanyol has experienced change on and off the field this offseason. Los Periquitos finished 11th in La Liga last season and brought in new manager Rubi for the upcoming campaign. The Catalonian manager led lowly Huesca to a second place finish in the Spanish Segunda in 2017-18, winning it promotion to La Liga. Espanyol featured the fourth-worst offense in its last campaign, and the club will look to new signing Borja Iglesias to help improve its fortunes. The forward notched 23 goals in 43 competitions for Real Zaragoza. The Barcelona-based club has been in the news recently, as it is negotiating a potential transfer of star David Lopez. English clubs Fulham and Everton are rumored to be bidding more than £30 million for the center back/midfielder.
The Stars: Espanyol may not boast a roster at the level of their crosstown rival, but it does feature many quality players. Costa Rican center back Óscar Duarte played in two matches in the 2018 World Cup and should be a name that many U.S. Men’s National Team fans should remember. Forward Léo Baptistão should feature in its upcoming campaign and could form a partnership with Iglesias. Aarón Martín Caricol, or Aarón for short, is being sought after by many larger clubs. Bundesliga clubs Mainz and Wolfsburg have been rumored to be weighing a bid of more than £10 million for the Spanish youth international.
In addition to the match, the club will also be celebrating the club’s successful Major League Soccer expansion bid on Saturday evening. Supporters in attendance can expect special halftime programming, a commemorative poster giveaway, an MLS-themed photo booth and post-match activities on the Nippert Stadium pitch. Read more about the planned activities here.
Tickets for the match are still available at all price levels, including in The Bailey, and start at $15. They can be purchased online at fccincinnati.com/tickets or by calling 513-977-5425.
TV: This contest is set for a 7:30 p.m. EST kickoff on Saturday night. 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 a YouTube Live stream.
Stay tuned to our Twitter handle – @CincySoccerTalk, for updated information.
@bryanweigel for @CincySoccerTalk