FC Cincinnati 2 looks to continue form against Crown Legacy FC

Dado Valenzuela celebrates scoring a goal in FC Cincinnati 2's last matchup against Philadelphia Union II. Photo by David Starcher.

FC Cincinnati 2 will once again be back at Scudamore Stadium on the campus of Northern Kentucky University, this time hosting Crown Legacy for Matchday 8 of the 2024 MLS Next Pro season.

The Orange and Blue are (3-3-1) this season and currently sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. The team is coming off a 3-1 victory over Philadelphia Union II via a hat trick from homegrown midfielder Gerardo Valenzuela.

On the other side, Crown Legacy FC (1-2-3) finally got its first win of the season last week after going winless in their first five games, defeating New York City FC II 3-1 on the road.

Last season, Crown Legacy finished first in the Eastern Conference and second overall in the league table with 66 points, posting an impressive (19-4-5) record.

It’s been a good start to the season for FCC 2, a team that only won seven games last year, as they have three so far in the 2024 campaign. 

FCC 2 has stuck with the same 3-5-2 formation from last season. Hunter Morse has been the starting goalkeeper for the Orange and Blue, starting all but one game so far this season. 

Leading the defense has been Brian Schaefer, who has played every single minute this season for FCC 2. Isaiah Foster has also been a crucial part of the backline as well, starting all seven matches so far this season. 

Center back London Aghedo, who was on the bench for FCC’s 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids, has started four straight games for FCC 2. Look for him to earn his fifth start in a row on Saturday.

The central midfield for Cincinnati has seen some rotation this year for head coach Tyrone Marshall, but the two reliables have been 16-year-old Stiven Jimenez and former NYCFC player Nicholas Benalcazar. Valenzuela will also most likely remain in the attacking midfielder position for FCC 2.

Wing-back Amir Daley has been a shining spot for the Orange and Blue this year, with three goals and two assists so far this season. The former Duke Blue Devil has been on the field for every single minute for FCC 2.

The front line has been led by Ben Stitz, who was second on the team last year in goals with seven. So far this season, the Baltimore native has gotten himself two goals along with three assists, which is tied for the team lead. Alongside Stitz this year has been former Penn State University striker Peter Mangione, who has started every game for the Orange and Blue up top this season.

Head coach Jose Tavares tends to roll out a 4-3-3 formation for Crown Legacy, with Chituru Odunze between the sticks, and a backline anchored by center backs Assane Quedraogo and Willian Sangoquiza Paredes. Former Major League Soccer third overall draft pick Phillip Mayaka leads the midfield along with former Sporting Kansas City midfielder Cameron Duke. On the left wing is 16-year-old Nimfasha Berchimas, and on the right is English native Tyger Smalls.

I wouldn’t be surprised for a team that has rotated at the number nine position a lot this season to give former Western Michigan striker Dylan Sing another start up top. Sing is coming off a goal against NYCFC II in his first professional start.

The match on Saturday will be only the third time these two sides have ever faced each other. Crown Legacy FC won both meetings last year, defeating the Orange and Blue 2-1 on March 31st and 1-0 on July 23rd.

FCC 2 will hope to get its first win against Crown Legacy, make it three wins in a row on the season and move up the standings in the Eastern Conference.

Kick-off for the match is set for 4 p.m. You can watch along on MLSNEXTPro.com

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