The rest of the world may be buzzing about that tournament in Russia, but FC Cincinnati still has one more game before a mini-break of their own. Hoping to correct a sluggish start to the home schedule, the Boys in Orange & Blue welcome the Richmond Kickers to Nippert Stadium on Saturday.
FCC returned home to a midweek crowd of 22,407, only to share the points with Bethlehem Steel FC in a 2-2 draw on Wednesday. The team was unable to completely capitalize on a Steel FC red card and goals by Nazmi Albadawi and Russell Cicerone. Despite the draw, FCC remains unbeaten in the past three games. The team still leads the Eastern Conference with 27 points, but failed to make significant distance from the field. Louisville City is only four points behind with three games in hand.
Meanwhile, Richmond remains near the bottom of the table in 14th place, despite enjoying a home-heavy schedule. The Kickers lost 2-1 on the road against Penn FC last Tuesday and remain without a point on the road (0-4-0). This trend is a continuation from last year. The Kickers won only twice on the road in 2017 and finished in 14th place with only 8 wins, the worst total in Leigh Cowlishaw’s 17 seasons as head coach. It was also the first time since 2003 that Richmond failed to qualify for any form of league playoffs.
Richmond’s arrival comes at good time for Cincinnati, who has yet to lose to the Kickers in their short rivalry. FCC rode an early Djiby goal and a late Aodhan Quinn penalty kick to blank Richmond 2-0 at home last year. In their three matches prior to that, FCC and Richmond drew with the same result each time (1-1).
FCC will regain the services of Emmanuel Ledesma, who is returning from a yellow-card suspension. The team may also return quite a few players who rested on Wednesday during the current span of five games in 15 days. However, Cincinnati could be without defender Dekel Keinan, who left Wednesday’s game with an apparent groin strain.
Here are five fast facts to get you ready for Saturday’s packed game at Nippert.
- If you attend a Richmond game, you will rarely see a 0-0 score line. Despite taking only 33 shots on target, Richmond has scored 14 goals over 12 games and has only been shut out once. Every other team in the USL has been shut out at least two times.
- However, Richmond has also given up 20 goals over the same span and has only 2 clean sheets of their own. Only Las Vegas, Seattle, Tulsa, and Atlanta have less clean sheets than the Kickers. Goalkeeper Travis Worra, who is on loan from D.C. United, has both shutouts for Richmond.
- Richmond and Cincinnati are polar opposites when it comes to aggression on the pitch. Cincinnati is second in the USL in yellow cards (32) and fifth in fouls conceded (191). Richmond is near the bottom in both categories (18 yellow cards, 128 fouls conceded).
- Although Richmond received Dane Kelly, last year’s Golden Boot winner, on loan from D.C. United, he has only appeared in 4 games and has scored only once. The team’s main threat has been NASL-veteran forward Brian Shriver, who leads the team in minutes, assists, shots on target, and chances created. Shriver and teammate Heviel Cordovés lead the team in goals (3) and shots (13).
- FCC’s “hydra offense” is starting to spread out. With his goal on Wednesday, Russell Cicerone is FCC’s ninth player to score this year in 14 USL games. It took 25 games last year before FCC had gotten goals from nine different players (Sem de Wit vs. Ottawa on August 23rd).
Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for complete coverage of FC Cincinnati vs Richmond on Saturday night.