Where: Cincinnati, OH – Nippert Stadium
When: Sunday, Aug. 12 at 6:00 p.m. ET
2018 Form: FC Cincinnati – 1st Place (13W-4L-5D, 45 pts.), Penn FC– 13th Place (6W-7L-8D, 26 pts.)
YOUR FAVORITE PEOPLE THIS WEEK – Ref Assignments:
REF: Mark Allatin, AR1: Maggie Short, AR2: Jeffrey Swartzel, 4TH: Mike Nickerson
5 Things to Know
New Look Penn FC: The Harrisburg City Islanders were rebranded Penn FC for the 2018 season after partnering with international youth soccer development group Rush Sports. Penn FC will now fulfill the role of being an end-point of a funnel for Rush’s top domestic youth prospects. The goal of this new club is to provide talented youth with a different outlet to become pro. Based on a test case with USWNT star Lindsey Horan, Rush will bring male players into their team to provide those athletes with a platform to continue to move up the pro ranks. Rush’s goal is to capitalize on any transfer fees or solidarity payments that those players could command in the future. While still low on the table in USL, this method of player development could be fruitful for Penn FC and their supporters in the future.
Tommy Heinemann: It is tough to avoid any mention of the proverbial elephant in the room when it comes to Penn FC. After having a successful 2017 with NASL champ, SF Deltas, the forward was one of the star signings brought in by head coach Alan Koch this past offseason. While the details are murky, FCC terminated Heinemann’s contract which put the Missouri-native in a tricky spot for his 2018 season. Fortunately for Heinemann, he landed at Penn FC after Week One of the USL season. The forward has scored three goals in ten starts but has not featured in a match since June 13th. Details have been scarce on his status for the weekend, but if healthy, Heinemann has plenty of motivation to perform well at Nippert. Check out our segment below from Chris Bratton of brotherlygame.com.
Working in the New Players: The club has not hidden their intentions to get new signings Fanendo Adi, Fatai Alashe and Pa Konate on the field as soon as possible. Each player is dealing with their won unique situation that will shape how quickly they will get to full form. Adi made a short appearance on Saturday and many fans were hoping he could be in line for a start vs. Penn FC but the striker was in Portland tying up loose ends until at least Friday. Both Konate and Alashe are uncertain as well. According to Charlie Hatch of the Enquirer, the club is still waiting on Konate’s work visa which would allow the left back to be selected. Alashe was allowed to return to San Jose this week to move and joined the team in training on Friday. Sunday’s match would be a great opportunity for all three players to get 90 minutes before next week’s fixture versus third-place Charleston, but will their off the field needs affect their availability?
More Cautious FCC?: Due to working in the three new signings and the now-fit Tyler Gibson, FCC has little room for errors on the pitch. A missed touch or tackle can be the one thing that causes a goal for the opposition if players are still working to figure out their relationships on the pitch. While these players are coming from a high-level team, they still need to develop the relationships that will benefit them during a playoff push. It is possible to see less forward movement in the near future while the club works in this new corps of players. FCC could rely more on Adi, Konig, and Ledesma to finish at a higher rate while this process takes place.
Patience: While the draw to Nashville was disappointing considering where Nashville is on the table, the Eastern Conference is challenging. Through 22 matches FC Cincinnati has 45 points compared to Louisville’s 44 points through as many fixtures in 2017. FCC’s season has been incredible, but they will experience peaks and valleys of form through their final third of 2018. As mentioned above, the new players still must be worked in and that coincides with a tough stretch over the clubs next six matches. FCC will host Pittsburgh and Charleston in that stretch combined with road matches at Louisville, Tampa, and Atlanta. Stats would show that they won’t win all of these matches, but it will give our fans a good measure of where the group stands going into the playoffs.
March to Matchday
We were unable to record a March to Matchday podcats for Sunday’s match but were able to exchange a few questions with Chris Bratton of brotherlygame.com. Check out his answers and follow him on Twitter at @C_Brat.
Q: Which Penn FC players should we watch out for?
A: 1. Lucky Mkosana. The NASL guys with Cincy will remember Lucky. He has eight goals in the last eight games, so he is Penn FC’s biggest scoring threat right now. Lucky is a dangerous veteran so you always have to keep him in consideration. 2. Isaac Osae. Isaac is a physical young striker on loan from Inter Allies FC in Ghana. He has shown issues being caught offside but he has also shown an ability to really cause trouble for opposing defenses. Osae is an attacking wild card because he’s big but still fast. 3. Romu Peiser. Romu is Penn FC’s angry, French goalkeeper. He is a very active goalkeeper and he’s usually good for making one or two big saves by coming off his line every match. But Peiser has been a goalkeeper for a long time, so he knows all the tricks. You should watch out for him because there’s a good chance he will try something during the match. He especially likes the old “stand over the ball but don’t pick it up until the last second while a striker approaches to try and draw contact” move.
Q: Status of Tommy Heinemann?
Tommy Heinemann last played during the Richmond match on June 12th. He came up limping and was subbed off in the first half. The team never said anything official about injuries or time frames so it was unclear how severe it was. But while he was out, Lucky Mkosana and Isaac Osae filled in for him very well, so it seemed like a situation where they weren’t going to try and force him to come back early. The attacking roles were pretty well covered. But as far as I know, he is healthy and training with the team right now. He should be available for selection, but it’ll probably come down to a strategy decision just because he has been out of the 18 for a couple months now.
Check out Chris’s match preview beginning on Saturday morning at brotherlygame.com.
Growler Cup – Round 23
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 a 6:00 p.m. EST kickoff on Sunday night. The broadcast duo of Tom Gelehrter and Kevin McCloskey will provide the play-by-play and color analysis to FCC fans live on CW Cincinnati. 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.