FC Cincinnati is coming off an emotional high after advancing in the USL Cup Playoffs against Nashville SC. Can it keep its record-breaking season going? Check out our 5 Things to Know.
Where: Cincinnati – Nippert Stadium
When: Saturday, Oct. 27 at 4 p.m. EST
2018 Regular Season Form: FC Cincinnati – 1st Seed (23W – 3L – 8D, 77 pts), NYRBII – 5th Seed (13W – 11L – 10D, 52 pts)
Playoff Results: FC Cincinnati – Draws #8 Seed Nashville SC 1-1, Advances on Penalties 6-5. NYRBII – Defeats #4 Seed Charleston Battery 1-0
YOUR FAVORITE PEOPLE THIS WEEK – Ref Assignments:
REF: Tim Ford, AR1: Trent Robert Van Haitsma, AR2: Cory Richardson, 4TH: Lukasz Szpala
5 Things to Know
Crossover – Seemingly every time you play an “MLS 2” squad (Bethlehem, New York Red Bulls II, Toronto FC 2), the subject of how many MLS players will be loaned down comes up. Fortunately, according to USL rules, these MLS loanees must be on the USL clubs’ master roster as of Sept. 14 and have played a minimum of five matches for the lower division squad. Therefore notable names like Vincent Bezecourt, Alex Muyl, Derrick Etienne or Connor Lade are ineligible. However, key players such as Anatole Abang, Brian White, Ben Mines, Hassan Ndam and Ethan Kutler are eligible. It is unlikely we will see all these players, as White and Mines are heavily involved with the senior squad.
Different Team – Much has been made of the defensive struggles experienced by the NYRBII defense in 2018. Through their first 29 matches, the Baby Bulls conceded on average 1.83 goals. In their past six, the reformed back four of Ethan Kutler, Hassan Ndam, Kevin Politz and Allen Yanes have conceded .83 goals per match. This strong group shut out the Charleston Battery to advance last weekend. A key change has been the additions of Politz next to the solid Ndam and adding Yanes at left back. Yanes has CONCACAF Champions League experience prior to signing with Red Bulls II this Summer. The other three have either started MLS matches in 2018 or have featured on the bench. This new look defense should allow fewer chances than the previous two matches.
Change It Up – Coach Alan Koch pulled out several surprises on Saturday vs. Nashville. First, Koch elected to start midfielder Tyler Gibson and then tactically pushed Fatai Alashe higher up the pitch than normal to press the NSC back four. That was Gibson’s fourth start since recovering from injury, and the defensive mid held his own over the course of the match allowing Alashe the space to roam. Alashe started strong but then seemed to drop back a bit later on in the match instead of maintaining the pressure on the visitors. Koch alluded to same changes coming this week. “…we’re definitely working on different things this week than we worked on last week, because we’re playing a very different team. Nashville and the Red Bulls are different teams and play in different ways,” Koch said. One of these things could include the pacey Michael Lahoud to cope with the athleticism of NY. It was a shock to see Lahoud out of the 18 this past weekend, but his skill set could prove pivotal in this match.
Clinical – FC Cincinnati has finished at an amazing 21 perccent in 2018. They couldn’t have been further off from that last Saturday. FCC struggled to find the back of the net scoring once on 22 chances (4.5 percent). The Orange & Blue will need more from their attacking corps and more importantly will need to create more runs to free up Emmanuel Ledesma and Fanendo Adi. A big part of this equation could be moving Nazmi Albadawi further up the pitch to combine with Adi. The two have worked together well in 2018, and the disconnect with Adi and Alashe was apparent on several missed opportunities. Whatever changes occur, FCC will find it difficult scoring at that low a clip vs New York, as the Baby Bulls lead the USL with almost 18 shots per contest and 2.06 goals per match.
Sustained Focus and Energy – FCC will play one of the youngest and most athletics squads this weekend. New York’s high press strategy will put pressure on FCC’s back four and midfielders as they work the ball forward. It will be on the more experienced home side to maintain their focus and eliminate costly giveaways. Should FCC play through the New York defense, the space conceded with the press should allow the attacking corps of Cincinnati to get several 1 v 1 chances in the box to score. This could be a case where FCC may try to outlast the press, and the further along as the match goes, Cincinnati could get more chances on the visiting goal.
March to Matchday – FC Cincinnati vs. NYRBII
Join host Bryan Weigel (@bryanweigel), as he welcomes guest Joe Goldstein (@_JoeGoldstein) of the Raising Bulls Podcast (@RaisingBullCast) & the Red Bulls News Network (@RBNewsNetwork)to preview Saturday’s USL Cup Playoff match vs. New York Red Bulls II. 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!
TV: This contest is set for a 4 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+.
RADIO: The Project 100.7
Stay tuned to our Twitter handle – @CincySoccerTalk, for updated information.