4:12 PM – This article has been updated with further information regarding FC Cincinnati’s preseason trip to Florida.
FC Cincinnati will see some of their first MLS preseason action in a familiar stadium. Each year the Charleston Battery (USL) host a round-robin preseason competition and invite three teams to participate. These spots have been popular among Major League Soccer teams looking for good competition before the season. Last season, Columbus Crew and 2017 expansion teams Atlanta United and Minnesota United entered the tournament. The 2018 CCC was won by the Columbus Crew and usually, the winner returns to defend their title in the following year’s tournament. The formal announcement by Charleston Battery can be found here.
The 2019 Carolina Challenge Cup will, as usual, be hosted at MUSC Health Stadium. Charleston has invited the Chicago Fire along with returning CCC champions Columbus Crew. The Crew were expected to return but have not been announced. The Charleston Battery said, “The third MLS club is confirmed and will be revealed at a later date.” Sources tell Cincinnati Soccer Talk that Atlanta United was also expected to attend but had to withdraw leaving an extra spot open. New MLS expansion team FC Cincinnati was then invited and accepted an invitation to the February tournament.
If Columbus joins, Hell will be Real a lot sooner than most FC Cincinnati fans expected. The rivalry will start in February and then continue into the regular season.
The slated dates for the 2019 CCC are February 16, 20 and 23rd. Each team will play a single match vs the other three teams in the tournament. The tournament has always featured four clubs in a round-robin format, with each club playing three games over the span of a week. Three points are awarded for a win, one for a draw and zero for a loss. The winner will be the team with the most points after all six matches have been played. The Columbus Crew won the first CCC in 2004 and have appeared five times. D.C. United has won the cup four times and is the current all-time leader.
Tickets can be purchased here. FC Cincinnati will play the Charleston Battery on February 16th at 7:30 PM, Chicago Fire on February 20th at 7:30 PM and possibly the Columbus Crew/3rd MLS team on February 23rd at 5:00 PM.
UPDATE: This year FC Cincinnati will be making two preseason trips. On top of making the trip to Charleston this winter, they will also be heading back to Florida’s IMG facility in Bradenton for the fourth straight season. The squad will report to Cincinnati in mid-January for training. They will then head to down to Florida and begin training on January 26th. While at IMG, the Orange and Blue will play friendlies against the Montreal Impact on Jan 30th, Colorado Rapids on February 2nd and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s first professional club, Malmo FF from Sweden on February 7th.
FC Cincinnati’s 2019 Preseason Schedule
TBA (mid-January) – Players report to Cincinnati
Jan. 26 through Feb. 9: Bradenton, Fla.
- Saturday, Jan. 26 – Depart for IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.
- Wednesday, Jan. 30 – 7 p.m. vs. Montreal Impact (IMG Academy)
- Saturday, Feb. 2 – 2 p.m. vs. Colorado Rapids (IMG Academy)
- Thursday, Feb. 7 – 7 p.m. vs. Malmo FF (IMG Academy)
- Saturday, Feb. 9 – Return to Cincinnati
Tuesday, Feb. 12 – at Indy Eleven (Westfield, Ind.)
Feb. 14 through Feb. 24: Charleston, S.C.
- Thursday, Feb. 14 – Depart for Charleston, S.C.
- Saturday, Feb. 16 – 7:30 p.m. vs. Charleston Battery (MUSC Stadium)
- Wednesday, Feb. 20 – 7:30 p.m. vs. Chicago Fire (MUSC Stadium)
- Saturday, Feb. 23 – 5 p.m. vs. TBA (MUSC Stadium)
- Sunday, Feb. 24 – Return to Cincinnati