FC Cincinnati travels to the Sunshine State on Saturday for a first-round playoff clash at Al Lang Stadium. It’s a winner-take-all affair pairing the #6 seed FCC with the #3 seed Tampa Bay Rowdies.
The Orange and Blue finished the USL regular season with 46 points accumulated over 32 matches. They earned playoff qualification last Thursday, two days before their final match. Tampa Bay finished 7 points above them in the East. Their point total of 53 was good enough to secure third place, but they lagged behind runaway leaders Louisville City FC by a full 9 points.
Saturday’s match will mark the third meeting between these two teams in 2017. Alan Koch’s side drew 1-1 with the Rowdies in an early-season match at Nippert. Harrison Delbridge provided an equalizer after Tampa Bay took the lead courtesy of a long-range Marcel Schäfer strike. In July, the Rowdies beat FC Cincinnati by a convincing 2-0 scoreline at Al Lang in one of FCC’s more lackluster performances of the season. It’s worth noting that the timing of that match coincided with FCC’s US Open Cup run, and league results suffered during that timeframe.
Kickoff for this match is 7:30 pm Eastern, and it will be televised locally in Cincinnati on Star 64. The victor will advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals to meet the survivor of the Charleston Battery vs NY Red Bulls II match. For a full run-down of the Eastern Conference playoff matchups, complete with predictions, check out USL Eastern Conference Playoff Predictions: First Round.
Four Fast Facts
Here are four fast facts from the two matches played during the USL regular season.
- Stalwart defender Harrison Delbridge and midfielder Corben Bone both missed the 2-0 defeat in Tampa through injury. FC Cincinnati’s three-man back line in that match consisted of Garrett Halfhill, Paul Nicholson, and Austin Berry.
- Tampa Bay’s defense limited FCC’s starting center forward to two shots, with zero on target over two USL matches. Djiby entered as a substitute in the second match and paired with König to produce more offense, but the Orange and Blue couldn’t find the net in that defeat. Is a two-striker formation in the cards on Saturday?
- Rowdies midfielder Marcel Schäfer led both teams in passing accuracy in both contests earlier this year (Game 1: 89.3%, Game 2: 93%).
- The matches between these two sides have been physical. They produced a total of 50 fouls, 9 yellow cards, and 1 red card (Kadeem Dacres in the April draw).
We’ll also feature a special playoff “Ten Facts” segment highlighting more points of interest in Saturday’s FC Cincinnati versus Tampa Bay Rowdies matchup. Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more news, insights, and analysis on FC Cincinnati’s 2017 playoff run.