FC Cincinnati returns to Nippert Stadium on Saturday to face the Tampa Bay Rowdies for a 7:30pm kickoff. It’s the first time this season these teams have met in league play and the first of a long stretch of home games for the Orange & Blue. Although they couldn’t manage a goal or a win in Nashville last weekend, Alan Koch’s side is still in first place and undefeated in their last seven games.
Historically, the Rowdies have proven to be a difficult opponent. The Orange & Blue are 0-3-1 all time versus Tampa Bay in league and playoff matches. However, FCC topped the Rowdies during the 2018 preseason. They managed a 1-0 victory in Bradenton at the end of March, courtesy of a second-half Garrett Halfhill strike. The last time they played Tampa Bay competitively was in the first round of last year’s playoffs, where FCC was eliminated with a thorough 3-0 defeat. During last year’s USL season FC Cincinnati drew with the Rowdies 1-1 at Nippert and lost 2-0 at Al Lang Stadium in early July.
Tampa Bay is not in stellar form at the moment. They’ve only won one game in their past five, and that was against bottom-of-the-East Toronto FC II. A preseason favorite to finish in the top four, the Rowdies currently sit in eleventh place in the Eastern Conference. Just under two months ago, head coach Stuart Campbell stepped down after four straight shutout losses and a 4-5-0 start to the season. 34-year-old defender Neill Collins transitioned from player to coach, and the team is 2-2-4 since he’s taken the reins.
The Rowdies have also made some key roster changes recently. Most importantly, German international midfielder Marcel Schäfer departed the club to become the sporting director of VfL Wolfsburg. Midfielder Jack Blake was also loaned from Tampa to Real Monarchs of the Western Conference. In response, the Rowdies bolstered their roster with the June signings of Afrim Taku, Dominic Oduro, and Kwadwo Poku. They also announced the signing of New York Red Bulls striker Stefano Bonomo on July 3rd.
Here are four fast facts to get you ready for Saturday’s 7:30 kickoff at Nippert Stadium.
- FC Cincinnati has four clean sheets in their last six matches played and are averaging 0.83 goals against per game during that period. Compare that to Tampa Bay who has conceded 1.33 goals per game and just one clean sheet over the same period.
- FCC has only scored 1 goal ever against Tampa Bay in a competitive match. That goal came last year in a 1-1 draw at Nippert Stadium. Fan favorite Harrison Delbridge scored that goal with a header, capitalizing on a Kenney Walker corner kick.
- Marcel Schäfer will be difficult for the Rowdies to replace. In the first half of the 2018 season, he had 4 assists, 40 key passes, and 75 crosses at a team-leading accuracy of 29.3%. That’s 31 more crosses than anyone on FC Cincinnati’s roster, despite playing one less match.
- Corben Bone and Emmanuel Ledesma lead FC Cincinnati with 16 starts each and are consequently also the team’s leaders in minutes played; Bone with 1424 minutes and Ledesma with 1362.
Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati versus the Tampa Bay Rowdies.