FC Cincinnati returns to Nippert to face Philadelphia Union

FC Cincinnati returns to Nippert Stadium Saturday night to face off against the Philadelphia Union. This will be both team’s fifth match of the season.

FCC is 2-1-1 with seven points and is on a three-match unbeaten streak and two-match winning streak. The team has looked very good the past few matches, ever since the second half of the match against Atlanta United.

The main draw against the team coming into the season was that it didn’t have enough offense to keep up with the other teams in the league. They have looked much better on that front since getting Kenny Saief on loan and Greg Garza returning from injury. Both of these players got minutes at the end of the Atlanta match, which is also when the massive improvement in offensive capability began. This isn’t a coincidence.

Also, Fanendo Adi hasn’t trained with the team all week.

Garza and Kendall Waston both seemed to have sustained injuries as well, which could lead to them missing the Union match.

We could be looking at another match where some of the younger guys might need to make an appearance. However, judging by the match against the Revolution, that might not be terrible. This also leads me to think we will have the speed front again in the upcoming match. Darren Mattocks will return from international duty and could be the starter. The team was outstanding when they have speedy players up top. Players like Emmanuel Ledesma, Mattocks, Kekuta Manneh and Roland Lamah are who could be up top. If this success continues with having a fast, pacey, player as a forward, the other players get opened up as well.

The defense has also done great. Since the goal Josef Martinez scored against FCC and Spencer Richey, there has not been a single shot that has gone in the net — 265 minutes ago. Richey has done very well and deserves to keep starting until he shows he can’t do it, which doesn’t seem to be anytime soon.

The back line has also been tremendous the past couple matches. Waston and Nick Hagglund were great against Portland. Also, Forrest Lasso was stellar coming in for Waston against New England. Garza and Mathieu Deplagne have been great too. We were expecting Garza to be great, but Deplagne has been a surprise with how well he has played.

The FCC offense is also in form. It has scored five goals in the last two matches and six in the last three. The team has scored seven goals in total, all from different players, which is an achievement in and of itself. Not only that but in just the two matches Saief has played, he already has two assists, which leads the team. Saief has been one of the bright spots on the team even though he only just got to Cincinnati. Look for FCC to continue to look for him to make plays in the upcoming match. This is because he has been able to create chances like no other player on the team has been able to.

The Philadelphia Union are 1-2-1 with four points, eighth in the Eastern Conference, and have tallied four points in their four matches played. However, all of those points were in their last two matches against Atlanta United and Columbus Crew. Prior to those matches, the Union lost to Toronto FC in their first match, 3-1, and then Sporting Kansas City, 2-0.

In their last match against Columbus, they won 3-0. David Accam had an outstanding match, and they will also have Marco Fabian returning from suspension. Fans might remember Accam because he was on the Chicago Fire team FCC beat in the U.S. Open Cup. The left winger has found his groove lately. He scored two goals against Columbus and tallied an assist in the match as well. Accam is the team leader for goals, while Fabian, Ilsinho and Brendan Aaronson have all scored one each.

Not only has the offense found its form, but so has the defense. After allowing five goals in the first two matches, it has only allowed one in the last two matches. After starting Andre Blake for their first three matches, the Union started Carlos for the match against Columbus. Blake was called up for the Jamaican national team. Unless Blake sustained an injury, expect him to return to the spot between the woodworks for the Cincinnati match.

Union defenders Raymon Gaddis and Auston Trusty have also found their confidence lately, and because of that, the whole team has looked better.

Even though Philadelphia is low on the table, its talent isn’t as low as its place. It could be much higher if it played to its potential. Because of that, FCC needs to take this game seriously and not look ahead to future matches. The match on Saturday will feature the team returning to Cincinnati for the first time since their 3-0 rout of the Portland Timbers. The match will start at 7:30 pm.

Stay tuned to Cincinnati Soccer Talk for on match day for all the details.

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