With a win, FC Cincinnati will clinch the USL Regular Season Championship in its final campaign as a member of the league. Can the Orange & Blue pull out another three points and clinch the shield? Check out our 5 Things to Know.
Where: Richmond, Va. – City Stadium
When: Wednesday, Sept. 25th at 7 p.m. EST
2018 Form: FC Cincinnati – 1st Place (21W-3L-6D, 69 pts.), Richmond Kickers – 15th Place (6W-20L-4D, 22 pts.)
YOUR FAVORITE PEOPLE THIS WEEK – Ref Assignments:
REF: Nickrod Fateh, AR1: Jc Griggs, AR2: Izzy Campos, 4TH: Nichoulaus Creasey
5 Things to Know
Playmakers: Coach Alan Koch has had to juggle playing time for his quality roster, but it is becoming very clear who his major playmakers have been. Corben Bone has scored in six of the last seven FC Cincinnati matches, and Emmanuel Ledesma has scored or assisted on eight of the team’s last 11 goals. Add in the additional work done by Emery Welshman and Nazmi Albadawi on Saturday, and FCC has a recipe for success going down the final stretch should future MLS Designated Player Fanendo Adi not make road trips to close the year.
Next Man Up: FCC has been able to rotate many players to maintain fitness going into the USL playoffs. Midfielder Tyler Gibson made his first league start on Saturday, and Matt Bahner returned to the lineup for the first time in a month. With a short turnaround between Penn FC, Richmond and Indy this weekend, it is possible that we could see further rotation on Wednesday. Justin Hoyte was said to be in England this past weekend but was going to join the team in Richmond. Russell Cicerone was an unused substitute, and it seems logical he could spell one of Ledesma, Bone or Jimmy McLaughlin in the XI. It is also possible that FCC could rest additional “starters”, but with the regular season title up for grabs, I’d expect Koch to sprinkle in some of his depth along with a crop of regulars.
Surprising Gibson: While not necessarily jumping out as a MOTM candidate, Gibson logged a quality 90 minutes of play in Harrisburg. The former San Francisco Deltas defensive midfielder helped FCC maintain possession in the match and notched 35 successful passes on Saturday. Gibson could be a key late addition for the club, as he is someone Koch can bring into the match to close out a win. The midfielder looks to be at match fitness, and with more time in the squad, he could be a big contributor down the stretch.
1-1: Shockingly, FC Cincinnati has never beaten Richmond in City Stadium. The Orange & Blue drew 1-1 in both contests in Richmond in 2016 and 2017. Can this squad get the monkey off its back and secure a regular season championship in Richmond, or will they have to wait until Saturday at home vs. Indy XI? Richmond has had a difficult season, conceding 67 goals while only scoring a league-worst 25. A bright spot for the Kickers has been the play of winger Brian Shriver. The former NASL journeyman moved to Richmond from Jacksonville this season and has posted seven goal and seven assists. Shriver is the leader in chances created (40) so expect whatever fullback he is matched with to have a busy night.
History in the Making: With a win on Wednesday, FC Cincinnati will clinch the USL Regular Season Championship for the club’s first piece of silverware. The consistency shown in 2018 has been impressive, and should FCC win, they would set several other new USL records. FCC would tie the 2017 Real Monarchs with the longest winning streak in league history (nine) which could set up an opportunity for a new record vs. Indy on Saturday. Cincinnati could set new records for wins (22), but should it at least draw, it will pass the 2016 NYRB II squad (69) for the most points in league history. Credit to the squad and staff for the performances they have put out this season. With the impending transition to MLS coming in December, this group has bonded and thrived. Should they continue this streak of form, this group should be in consideration as the best squad in league history.
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 Wednesday. 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. FCC’s match will also be broadcast at FC Cincinnati’s pub partners or by Streaming internet as the USL GAME OF THE WEEK ESPN3.
Stay tuned to our Twitter handle – @CincySoccerTalk, for updated information.
@BryanWeigel for @CincySoccerTalk