FC Cincinnati will try to rebound in USL league play on Saturday when they face North Carolina FC at Nippert Stadium for a 7:30pm kickoff. Despite a shocking 4-1 loss in Charlotte last weekend, the Orange & Blue’s good early-season form keeps them tied for first place in the Eastern Conference standings.
North Carolina FC is a 2016 rebrand of the Carolina Railhawks, a team that has competed in multiple lower-division U.S. soccer leagues from 2006 until current. After six years in the NASL, NCFC moved to the USL for the 2018 season.
North Carolina FC comes into the match in 14th place overall, but their results are on the uptick. In their last USL match on April 31st, they unleashed three first-half goals on Penn FC at Wakefield Medical Park in a comprehensive victory. The USL newcomers are unbeaten in their last four league matches, despite their humble point total. It’s worth noting that NCFC has played two fewer matches than FC Cincinnati and has had an extremely light league schedule recently. FCC has played five USL games since April 21st compared to North Carolina FC’s two in the same timeframe.
When looking at this match, one also has to factor in the second round of the US Open Cup, which took place on Wednesday. Both teams were in action in that competition. The Orange & Blue battled to claim a 4-1 extra-time victory over Detroit City FC. Corben Bone scored the game winner, and Emery Welshman accumulated a hat-trick and an assist to round out a bumper evening for the Canadian. North Carolina FC also was in action midweek. They had an easier path to victory and dispatched Yonkers-based amateur side Lansdowne Bhoys FC by a 3-0 scoreline.
Nazmi Albadawi will, of course, be a familiar face to this weekend’s visitors. The Raleigh, North Carolina native played 110 matches and scored 17 goals for NCFC over four seasons, collecting two NASL Best XI selections in the process. Lance Laing also spent the 2017 season with NCFC.
Here are some fast facts to make you look like a stats geek come Saturday’s match.
- NCFC’s danger man is 23-year-old Mexican striker Daniel Rios who is a youth product and loanee from C.D. Guadalajara of Liga MX. He leads the team in goals (4), shots (13), shots on target (6), and is second on NCFC in key passes (8).
- North Carolina FC’s team passing accuracy of 81% is tied for third overall in the USL. Compare that to 77% for FC Cincinnati (10th overall).
- FC Cincinnati’s hydra attack is real. They have eight different goalscorers this season and a four-way tie for most goals on the team. König, Ledesma, Bone, and Walker are level with three goals each. Also, five different players have at least one assist.
- FC Cincinnati has collected 12 more yellow cards this season than Saturday’s opponent. They average 2.4 per game compared to NCFC’s 1.4 per game. Forrest Lasso has been the latest victim of the yellow card—his fifth of the season came last week, forcing him to sit out Saturday’s game.
Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati versus North Carolina FC.