FC Cincinnati released its long-awaited 2017 schedule on Tuesday afternoon. The USL calendar was delayed by several weeks waiting for US Soccer to make a decision on division two sanctioning. The USL received division two status and now, less than two months before the season begins, the full schedule is available.
FC Cincinnati begins the season with a challenging three game road trip. They face the Charleston Battery, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, and Bethlehem Steel on three consecutive weekends starting on March 25th. Orange and Blue Press highly recommends taking in these games with the team’s most passionate supporters at Rhinehaus OTR, Molly Malone’s Covington, or one of FC Cincinnati’s pub partners.
All of the home matches at Nippert Stadium are, of course, worth your while. But the five matches listed below are must-see events. Mark your calendars, change your plans, take a day off, get a dog-sitter, cancel your vacation. Do what you have to do to support the Orange and Blue.
April 15th – Saint Louis FC (Home Opener) – Get your taxes done early so you can see FC Cincinnati return to Nippert after a six month respite. The release of the pent-up Bailey energy on April 15th will be something to behold. Saint Louis FC is a new member of the Eastern conference, migrating from the USL’s West to balance the two conferences. FC Cincinnati played Saint Louis twice and beat them twice in 2016. A revamped Saint Louis FC, led by former US international Preki, will be looking for revenge. This early season game will also carry the weight of an MLS expansion rivalry.
April 22nd – Louisville City FC – The home leg of Dirty River Derby (a.k.a. River Cities Cup) is the #1 match of the season. It’s that simple. Take into account that FC Cincinnati has signed away not one but two LCFC players, including their captain. This match is going to be nasty and will feature a loud traveling contingent from Louisville. FC Cincinnati travels to Louisville for the second and third legs of this three games series. Mark July 15th and August 12th as travel dates on your calendar.
June 17th – Charleston Battery – If FC Cincinnati has a bogey team this early in its existence, it’s the Charleston Battery. They’re 0-2-1 against the Battery, including the home playoff loss that ended FC Cincinnati’s inaugural season. This will be a revenge match against the old guard of a very new-look USL. They came into our house twice last year and took four points. That can’t happen in 2017.
August 23rd – Ottawa Fury – Two teams, the Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Ottawa Fury, defected from the troubled NASL to the USL’s Eastern Conference this offseason. Some may argue that Tampa is the more interesting matchup, considering our history and the competition over MLS expansion. However, the Tampa game is on a Wednesday and is sandwiched between two other must-see games. So Ottawa may be the game you earmark if you can only check out one of the two former NASL clubs this season.
September 16th – New York Red Bulls II – The Baby Bulls were the class of the league last season, winning both the regular season and the USL Cup. FC Cincinnati lost to them twice last year, and both games were haunted by questionable refereeing decisions. The Orange and Blue will try to prove that they are the best of the East in the last home game of the regular season. Top playoff seeding will likely be on the line.
Honorable mention: September 2nd – Pittsburgh Riverhounds: What can you say, it’s Pittsburgh. The Riverhounds struggled in 2016 and all three matches the Orange and Blue played against them were, shall we say, tepid. It is Pittsburgh though. If you have Bengals baggage, this is the day to deal with it.
The full 2017 FC Cincinnati schedule can be found here. Times for all matches will be announced at a later date.
What do you think? Which games are you most looking forward to seeing? Leave a comment below.
If you don’t have season tickets already, right now would be a stellar time to lock some up. Over 9,000 season tickets have been sold already.