FC Cincinnati is the top team in the USL and riding a 17 match unbeaten streak. Toronto FC II is dead last but has been pulling off surprising results. A classic David vs Goliath match in the making.
Where: Cincinnati, OH – Nippert Stadium
When: Sunday, September 16th at 4:30 p.m. ET
2018 Form: FC Cincinnati – 1st Place (19W-3L-6D, 63 pts.), Toronto FC II – 16th Place (3W-20L-4D, 13 pts.)
YOUR FAVORITE PEOPLE THIS WEEK – Ref Assignments:
REF: Lorant Varga, AR1: Matthew Osterhouse, AR2: Ian McKay, 4TH: Kevin Fikar
5 Things to Know
Don’t Go Easy on David: In the tale of David vs Goliath, the big guy made one giant mistake. He wrote his opponent off as terrible and weak and that underestimation was his downfall. Toronto FC II may have a terrible record but they have the strength and it has shown recently. FC Cincinnati fans only need to look back at the June 27th match when Toronto came back from three goals down to draw FCC in Toronto. Since then, Toronto FC II has also beaten Nashville and Louisville City along with drawing the New York Red Bulls II on Wednesday. Quite the performance from a team that has lost 20 matches this season. Cincinnati needs to take this match as seriously as they do against any other playoff teams to avoid the pitfall trap match. Toronto FC II is full of youth and their speed and talent strikes if there is a momentary lack in discipline.
Eye On the Prizes: FC Cincinnati has wrapped up a playoff spot and a home playoff game in back to back matches. Every remaining match should be viewed as points for home field in a possible USL championship. Cincinnati is nine points in front of their Western rival and additional points can lock the goal in. The Orange and Blue are also chasing a handful of USL records. Reaching 70 points in a season would knock off the 2016 Red Bulls II from that lofty perch. 21 wins is also the current record also set by NYRBII. The Richmond Kickers 2012 unbeaten streak holds the USL record at 22 consecutive games. FCC would need to win/draw all remaining six matches to take this USL record. In 2017, Real Monarchs broke the consecutive wins record with a streak of nine. Cincinnati currently has six and needs just four more to steal this one away.
Watch for Traps: Toronto FC II has the ability and has loaned 1st team MLS players down to the USL level. Alan Koch will need to prepare for a number of personnel possibilities when studying film on Toronto FC II. The Reds also play a trap style system. They are patient and they will want FCC to control possession. Using the TFCII match vs Louisville as an example, most of their goals come from counter type plays. Toronto waits for a turnover and uses their youthful speed to fly downfield and strike. That youth also means Toronto makes more mistakes than the average USL team. Cincy should be ready to exploit each mistake Toronto gives them. It is now apparent that even a three-goal lead vs TFCII can vanish quite quickly.
Statement Win: Cincy has picked up great results in recent weeks. Beating Louisville, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay are all impressive results. However, those results were not big victories. Each one was scrappy and FCC did exactly what needed to be done to pick up the win. FCC has not struck fear into the hearts of other Eastern teams because of these scrappy victories. While unnecessary, FCC has a chance to beat up on Toronto FC II and further solidify their dominance at the top of the table. TFCII, if played correctly, could also give a few players a chance to climb back into individual positions on the USL 2018 award race. Ledesma has tied the USL assist record at twelve. He needs one more to break it and keep distance on those right behind him.
Enjoy the End: Sunday’s match is the second to last match of the 2018 USL season. We know a playoff spot has been earned but that will be an entirely different atmosphere. Enjoy these two matches for what they are. The last three years have been special and fans will unlikely see FCC play another lower division soccer season. Things are about to get crazy at Nippert stadium the next couple years. This is the end of an FC Cincinnati era so soak it up and enjoy every moment. A day will come when you look back with fond memories of the time FCC ran away with the 2018 USL season.
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. Results are available at cincinnatisoccertalk.com/growlercup. 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
The xG chart looks as follows:
TV: This contest is set for a 4:30 p.m. EST kickoff on Sunday afternoon. 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 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.
@BostonKeith for @CincySoccerTalk