With not much to play for, will the Orange & Blue keep pushing for the USL record of 23 games without a loss? Check out our 5 Things to Know.
Where: Pittsburgh – Highmark Stadium
When: Saturday, Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m. EDT
2018 Form: FC Cincinnati – 1st Place (23W-3L-6D, 75pts.), Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – tie for 2nd Place (15W-4L-12D, 57 pts.)
YOUR FAVORITE PEOPLE THIS WEEK – Ref Assignments:
REF: Eric Tattersall AR1: Ian McKay AR2: Jeffrey Swartzel 4TH: Samuel Reynolds
5 Things to Know
Soul Crusher: The last time these two teams met the Riverhounds had a better run of play for about two-thirds of the game. With thirty minutes to play, the Hounds had a one-goal lead and had the Queen City boys flustered as they struggled to break down the Bob Lilley-coached side. As the clock clicked down, FCC coach Alan Koch made some impactful substitutions (Michael Lahoud, Jimmy McLaughlin and Fanendo Adi) that energized not only the team but Nippert stadium. The injection of energy led to Captain Dekel Keinan scoring on a set play, and 8 minutes later Adi opened his FCC account with not just a game-winner but a soul-sapping result for the away side. It would be nice to have a dominant performance in Pittsburgh’s scenic stadium to end this competition. (This is not a rivalry, read below.)
Mayberry: Say what! Yes, Mayberry — where Andy Griffith was sheriff — that small town had had everyone contributing to make it work. What does that have to do with FC Cincinnati? Well, is this the game that FC Cincinnati allows our own SmallTown, Mark Village, to show his skills off? I think so. Many people have seen posts from goalkeeper coach Jack Stern on the work the keepers do every day, and it is impressive. Village is a key contributor in the success of the goalkeeper union. I can’t think of a better way to show appreciation to a guy that contributes in ways that most fans can’t see. Village is known around the team for not only the work he puts in but also his humor. It’s attributes like that that has helped this team reach heights we never imagined. Mark, I am rooting for you. You have earned it!
Undefeated: This is the one sport that Cincinnati can hold over Pittsburgh’s head. The Riverhounds have never gotten three points from FC Cincinnati. They have had opportunities on a few occasions, but they couldn’t finish the deal. The Orange & Blue should not need a pep talk from general manager Jeff Berding informing the players of the dislike between the two river cities. However, unlike the other professional teams in Cincinnati, this is the team that can say “We Have Never Lost to Pittsburgh.” This is not a rivalry — FC Cincinnati has never lost to them — this is just dominance over them. It is that simple, and let’s keep it that way.
Sharp: Two games left in the regular season, and the Conference first seed is locked up along with the top seed in all of USL. FC Cincinnati has little left to prove or play for in the regular season, so what will Koch do? At some level, Koch has to keep the core starters sharp, and one would expect all the key players to get playing time in either of the two remaining games. But Koch could start the core against Pittsburgh and then rest them the final week to prepare for the playoffs, or he could start half this week and the other half next week while blending players. Regardless of who plays, Koch will field a strong team because the depth is second-to-none in the USL. Also, the streak is still alive and with two defensive-minded opponents, FCC does not have to press forward to get points.
Pittsburgh Playoff Chances: The Riverhounds are tied with Louisville for second and have Cincinnati, Atlanta United 2, and New York Red Bulls II to close out the regular season. The New York game is on Sunday, and Pittsburgh will know if it has an opportunity to catch Louisville. If it has an opportunity, Pittsburgh would probably go for second place. If there is no chance of catching Louisville, it is an opportune time to rest players. Regardless of that scenario, Pittsburgh needs to get as many points from Cincinnati and Atlanta to keep the pressure on Louisville. Louisville has games remaining against Toronto FC II, North Carolina FC, and Indy XI. Although Pittsburgh has the hardest game (FCC) left between the two teams, I think Louisville’s schedule is more difficult as a whole with North Carolina fighting to hold onto eighth and Indy trying to maintain the fifth position.
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 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+.
RADIO: ESPN 1530
Stay tuned to our Twitter handle – @CincySoccerTalk, for updated information.
@khoetker for @CincySoccerTalk