FC Cincinnati announced its full 2018 schedule last Friday to finally give fans a bit more excitement, and the opportunity to plan for the big games against new and existing rivals. We picked through the finer details to give you a few insights beyond the basics.
A lot was made of schedule congestion in 2017, so it’s good to know when the Orange and Blue are going to have a break. It’s also good to figure out which weekends you can spend a little time doing something other than watching soccer (*gasp*) and not miss a beat. Take the time to jot down these three dates as weekends you can spend some time with your loved ones before getting back to the football.
March 24 – This one’s a bit of a downer. After the regular season kickoff at Charleston on March 17th, we have to wait two weeks for another taste of the action. The squad will need the rest though because there isn’t another open weekend until late June. The silver lining is that we’ll get a chance to travel to Indianapolis on 3/31 and see the first match of what looks to be a great rivalry.
June 23 – After a busy schedule in early June and a home match against Richmond on June 13th, Alan Koch’s men have an 11-day break from USL action. However, the break could be interrupted by U.S. Open Cup action, depending on how far the team progresses in the tournament.
July 28 – The last weekend in July is currently not booked on FC Cincinnati’s calendar. However, that’s been the weekend FCC has traditionally hosted an international friendly. We had Crystal Palace in 2016 and Valencia last year. Will we get a taste of the German Bundesliga in 2018?
Those are the only open weekends between March and October. There are two more games this year than last, a total of 34 games smashed into a seven-month period, and all will again be against Eastern Conference opposition.
US Open Cup Impact
FC Cincinnati’s involvement in the U.S. Open Cup should begin in mid-May and provide another dose of schedule congestion in May and June similar to last year. The early June schedule will be crowded, and if we win two games or more, we’re going to need to leverage every bit of the squad depth we have. Alan Koch and crew have worked to address depth in the offseason. We’ll see if it pays off this summer.
Potential impact and possible dates in May/June if FCC progresses to play three USOC games:
5/5 vs. Atlanta United 2
5/12 at Charlotte – 7 days rest
5/16 US Open Cup – 4 days rest
5/19 vs. North Carolina FC – 3 days rest
5/26 vs. Loisville City FC – 7 days rest
5/30 US Open Cup – 4 days rest
6/2 at NY Red Bulls II – 3 days rest
6/9 at North Carolina FC – 7 days rest
6/13 vs. Bethlehem Steel FC – 4 days rest
6/16 vs. Richmond Kickers – 3 days rest
6/20 US Open Cup – 4 days rest
6/27 at Toronto FC II – 7 days rest
6/30 vs. Ottawa Fury FC – 3 days rest
Unlike last year, the USL schedule during this period has a few midweek games sprinkled in June. It’s hard to predict if the USOC games would get scheduled in open weeks or if the USL games would be reshuffled.
Five Best Road Trips
The FC Cincinnati faithful are developing a reputation as good travelers. With new regional rivals, there are a lot of travel dates to choose from on the 2018 calendar.
Here are our top 5:
#5 – March 17 at Charleston Battery. The season kickoff coincides with St. Patrick’s Day, and after falling short the past two years, we have a decent chance to finally beat a Battery squad that had several key players depart.
#4 – August 25 at Tampa Bay Rowdies. Playoff payback is in order against an independent club with big-name players who will likely compete at the top of the Eastern Conference table.
#3 – July 7 at Nashville SC. Nashville is this season’s new USL blood and our potential MLS rival, and if there’s some extra time, you can hit 2nd Avenue to crash the honkey tonks and bachelorette parties.
#2 – March 31 at Indy XI. The latest NASL defector has become our newest rival and is only 121 miles away. While the site for the game hasn’t been determined yet, there’s a good bet this early-season game will be a party.
#1 – September 8 at Louisville City FC. The derby match we’ve all been waiting for. No more words are needed, except maybe “streamers”.
While the schedule is fairly balanced, there is one particularly nasty stretch of games on the 2018 calendar.
August 18 – vs. Charleston Battery
August 22 – at Atlanta United
August 25 – at Tampa Bay Rowdies
September 1 – vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds
September 8 – at Louisville City FC
That stretch kicks off with three games in eight days. Charleston shouldn’t be as strong this year, but they’ve been a bogey team for FC Cincinnati. Atlanta United has a talent-laden roster and should field a strong “2 team”. Then we head to Tampa, another place we’ve never won. We do then get a week’s rest before Pittsburgh, and another solid week before heading South for the final game of the Dirty River Derby at Slugger Field. Let’s hope we’re well-positioned in the league table before we get to this run of games.
Lots of big dates and interesting twists ahead. Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s preseason.