FC Cincinnati Rights the Ship, Targets Home Playoff Games

FC Cincinnati earned a hard fought but well deserved victory over Saint Louis FC at Nippert Stadium on Monday afternoon. For play-by-play details of the games’ events, see the articles featured in our news post from Monday. This article intends to delve deeper into the cookie jar and see what treats are hidden underneath the top layer.

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Four Numbers 

The following four numbers help to tell the tale of how this match unfolded.

89 – The temperature in degrees Fahrenheit at kickoff. After a week of lovely weather in the true Queen City (as evidenced by the Queen City Cup), Monday’s match against Saint Louis FC was played under scorching conditions at Nippert Stadium. The official air temperature may have been 89 degrees but it was much hotter on Nippert’s field turf surface. While on the field taking match photos, my iPhone literally stopped working because it was too hotFans on the sunny East side of the stadium were leaving their seats during the match and retreating into the upper shade to find respite from the swelter. FC Cincinnati continues to pack the house this season despite a notable lack of support from Mother Nature. 17,145 showed up. Kudos Cincinnati.

2 – The number of key starters that Saint Louis FC was missing due to international call-ups. Leading goalscorer Irvin Herrera and starting goalkeeper Ryan Thompson were both absent from this match, representing El Salvador and Jamaica respectively. This was a quality win for FC Cincinnati but it’s important to understand the diminished strength of the opponent coming into the match.

11 – The jersey number of Álvaro Anton Ripoll, who had an impactful performance in Monday’s victory. Ripoll has started the last 2 matches in the place of injured Omar Cummings, playing on the right side of FC Cincinnati’s front three. The 22 year old native of Madrid, Spain was involved in everything the Orange and Blue did offensively and played with a passion that will soon make him a fan favorite.

9 – STAT CORRECTED: The average number of shots taken by FC Cincinnati in their 3 games against the Charlotte Independence, NY Red Bulls II, and Rochester Rhinos. FC Cincinnati had 16 total shots in Monday’s game against Saint Louis FC, emphasizing their improved offensive productivity. Of those 16, only 4 shots were on goal though (including the 2 actual goals). The offensive effort was much better overall, but FC Cincinnati will need to be more ruthless in front of goal come playoff time.

Quotable [Press Conference]

John Harkes:

“We created so many chances today. In the first half that was some of the best soccer I’ve seen all year.”

“The fan base actually pushed us on today. It’s unlike anything else in the league. It doesn’t matter about the quantity but about the quality of the fans. It drives the guys. It is fantastic. It really is.”

Ugo Okoli:

“To be honest after the first half that I had, I knew I was gonna get one.” (You’ve got to love that striker’s confidence)

Álvaro Ripoll:

“It felt amazing to play in front of this crowd. I was worried about my fitness, but I could have played 3 games in front of this crowd.”  (I highly recommend that you watch Ripoll in the press conference, the genuine excitement in his eyes to be starting and performing comes through in an amazing way).

Playoff Picture

FC Cincinnati has reclaimed their 3rd place position in the Eastern Conference after this result. With four games left in the season, earning the right to play at Nippert in the postseason must be the focus for the Orange and Blue.

The bad news is that last week’s poor results put a big dent in FCC’s chances of catching the top two. Overtaking second place Louisville City FC is possible, but it will take a perfect season’s end and some help.

The good news is that all of the remaining opponents are in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference standings, so FCC has a good opportunity to maximize points. They will have to contend with pressure from the chasing pack though. There are four teams just behind FC Cincinnati poised to overtake them if they slip up. Negative results in the final stanza of the season could leave the Orange and Blue seeded fifth through eighth, which would mean no home playoff game.

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