One down, 33 to go for FC Cincinnati.
Thanks to a Blake Smith goal, FCC got the first of many monkeys off their back with a hard-fought 1-0 win in Charleston to start 2018. With the incredibly early bye week finally out of the way, the Orange & Blue travel to the Hoosier State. On Saturday they take on Indy Eleven, in what will be the team’s first home match as a USL squad.
Indy defeated the Richmond Kickers on the road 1-0, all thanks to a 41st-minute deflection by Jack McInerney from a Soony Saad cross. Indy took all ten of their shots by the 60th minute, then rode their prevent defense, a convenient red card on the Kickers, and goalkeeper Owain Fôn Williams for the clean sheet.
This match will be Indy’s first home game since their declaration for the USL and a major overhaul of the team’s roster and staff. New coach Martin Rennie started a lineup against Richmond that had zero holdovers from their 2017 NASL season. Veteran MLS forwards McInerney (LA Galaxy) and Saad (Sporting KC), led the 4-2-3-1 formation.
The Eleven have left the comforts of Michael Carroll Stadium for an upgrade to business class. Their home games this season will take place at the expansive Lucas Oil Stadium. The extra room and brand recognition of both teams are expected to draw a mighty crowd for the “I-74 Derby”—Soc Takes writer Nipun Chopra expects the attendance to approach 15,000 with easily over a thousand seated in the away section for FCC’s supporters groups.
Here are some morsels to serve as an appetizer before the main course on Saturday.
- Both teams scored historic wins in their opening matches. FC Cincinnati won their season opener for the first time in three tries against Charleston. Meanwhile, Indy Eleven won their opener for the first time in their five-year history. In fact, Indy’s win broke an even bigger hex—their first four seasons each started with two straight ties.
- FC Cincinnati is looking to rebuild momentum after their downtime. But extended time off between USL games hasn’t been kind to them in the past. Over the past two seasons, the team has had four periods with a layover of 10 days or longer and are winless in all four games that followed (0W-1L-3T).
- Because of the bye week and a postponed friendly, FC Cincinnati should be healthy coming into the match. Jimmy McLaughlin’s shoulder seems better, as he was able to play the last 15 minutes of a 4-2 scrimmage win over the Columbus Crew’s reserve squad last Sunday.
- DID YOU KNOW? – Although this is FC Cincinnati’s first official match against Indy Eleven, they have squared off in two preseason friendlies before. However, this is not the first US Division 2 soccer game between teams from Cincinnati and Indianapolis. You’d have to go back 15 years when the Cincinnati Riverhawks beat the Indiana Blast 3-1 on July 2nd, 2003, back when both teams played in the USL A-League. (The Riverhawks were disbanded in 2004, and the Blast folded the next year after a season in the PDL.)
- HEAD-TO-HEAD – Last week’s most active player for Indy was 5’9” Tyler Pasher. The 23-year-old defender solidified the left half of the pitch and led the team with 83 touches. While Saad and McInerney are the buzzworthy names, Pasher has the speed and the ability to stretch the field. He has credentials, serving as an ex-forward and midfielder for Swope Park Rangers the past two years. Look for him and Saad to challenge Justin Hoyte and Manu Ledesma on their half of the pitch.
Can the Orange & Blue find their momentum again? Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage leading up to Saturday’s contest.