With a win, FC Cincinnati has a chance to tie a USL record. Can the Orange & Blue pull out another three points on their way to the USL Cup playoffs? Check out our 5 Things to Know.
Where: Harrisburg, Pa. – FNB Field
When: Saturday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. EDT
2018 Form: FC Cincinnati – 1st Place (20W-3L-6D, 66 pts.), Penn FC – 13th Place (9W-12L-8D, 35 pts.)
YOUR FAVORITE PEOPLE THIS WEEK – Ref Assignments:
REF: Thomas Snyder, AR1: Jeff Skinker, AR2: Joshua Encarnacion, 4TH: Patrick Casey
5 Things to Know
History: Should FC Cincinnati defeat Penn FC on Saturday night, it will tie the 2016 NYRB II side with logging 69 points through 30 matches. The Baby Bulls went on to win the USL Cup after their 30-match season, regarded as one of the USL’s best single-season performances. However, the 2012 Orlando City USL squad achieved 2.375 points per game, and that stands as the record for a regular-season point average. FCC would have to win out to break that record, which would put it on 81 total points compared to Orlando’s 57 points through 24 matches. Now a regular season title is great. Making history would be amazing. But would you sacrifice it over an early playoff loss? Check out a cool article from the Pride that dives into this discussion.
All Players on Hand: This final stretch for FC Cincinnati will call on almost all healthy players to contribute. According to a report from the Enquirer’s Charlie Hatch, Koch will look to his depth to help battle the schedule congestion and difficult surfaces ahead. “I’m pretty certain almost everybody, if not everybody, will get chances to play down this final stretch,” Koch told the Enquirer. Cincinnati played midweek at Louisville last week, followed by a Sunday match vs. Toronto. They now travel to Harrisburg, Pa., and then to Richmond, Va., for a match on Wednesday before returning home next Saturday for a fixture vs. Indy XI. Saturday’s match will be played on a baseball field with a temporary surface over the infield. It is likely that this could be a place where the roster rotates.
Close Games: While Penn FC is in 13th place, it has kept many games close in 2018. In its 23 league matches since April, Penn FC has been a part of 18 fixtures decided by one goal. It won three of the others and lost 3-1 to Nashville and 3-0 to Louisville on Wednesday. The Capital City club has put up a -4 goal differential, which is impressive when you consider the rest of the bottom five are at -12, -27, -39 and -29. Overall Penn FC offers a stingy defense allowing 1.3 goals per game but has struggled scoring, ranking 25th on 34 goals scored. Expect this to be similar to the Aug. 12th match at Nippert where Penn FC didn’t allow much room in the 18 and FCC caught a break off an Emmanuel Ledesma free kick.
Back on Track: While FC Cincinnati has been winning, it feels as if the group isn’t playing as strong as they were back in July and August. Their last four matches have been nail-biting affairs with FCC coming out on top by one goal. Koch showed his displeasure after this Sunday’s performance. “I wasn’t happy with our performance. I wasn’t happy with how we managed the game, collectively and individually. I think we made some horrendous decisions in the game,” he said in his postmatch press conference. Can FCC find a higher gear as it goes into the playoffs? Contests vs. Penn FC and Richmond could help with some confidence before they end their regular season schedule at home vs. Indy and at Pittsburgh and Nashville.
Un-Lucky Heinemann: Former FC Cincinnati offseason striker Tommy Heinemann has only seen one appearance since these two sides met in August. He has not been in the matchday squad since his appearance in Richmond and isn’t expected this weekend. Instead, former NY Cosmos forward Lucky Mkosana has led the front line for Penn FC. Mkosana has been employed as a lone striker and has accounted for 10 goals for Penn FC. Like FC Cincinnati’s Pa Konate and Michael Lahoud, Mkosana was called up for international duty in September representing Zimbabwe in African Cup of Nations qualifying. Look for Mkosana to be the focal point in the Penn FC attack Saturday.
Clinch Home Field: FC Cincinnati needs two more wins to clinch home-field advantage throughout the 2018 USL Cup playoffs. According to the USL, the club finishing the highest in total points during the regular season (of the two finalists) earns the right to the host USL Cup. If this remains true, FCC could host the final in Nippert should it advance. These next two matches on the road could be instrumental in making the Nippert dream a reality. Even though FCC only needs three points to lock in hosting rights for the Eastern Conference playoffs, it still has much to play for.
March to Matchday – FC Cincinnati vs. Penn FC
Join host Bryan Weigel (@bryanweigel), as he welcomes guest, Chris Bratton (@C_Brat) of The Brotherly Game (@BrotherlyGame) and SB Nation site to preview Saturday’s match vs. Penn FC. 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!
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
TV: This contest is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Saturday. 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 STAR 64. FCC’s match will also be broadcast at FC Cincinnati’s pub partners or by Streaming internet on ESPN+.
Stay tuned to our Twitter handle – @CincySoccerTalk, for updated information.
@BryanWeigel for @CincySoccerTalk