The current kings of the USL Eastern Conference, FC Cincinnati leave their fortress and head south to face 15th place Atlanta United 2 on Wednesday. The midweek match comes four days after the Orange & Blue handily dispensed of third place Charleston Battery 3-0. With that win, FCC confirmed they’re the Beast of the East climbing to 51 points, well atop the conference table.
Their recent successes have come at home as they secured 16 of a possible 18 points during the six game home-stand. Wednesday will be the first of two consecutive away matches for FCC, and the second of three total games in eight days. Will the Orange & Blue go on the road and continue their unbeaten streak? Let’s consider this Wednesday’s opponent.
Atlanta United 2 are sitting near the bottom of the table in 15th place with 16 points after 22 games. Their overall record of 3-12-7 certainly isn’t remarkable; however, they’ve only lost one match while playing at home. As a matter of fact, their home record of 3-1-4 boasts wins against playoff hopefuls New York Red Bulls II and Bethlehem Steel. A draw against the defending 2017 USL Cup champions Louisville City FC in April shows they certainly can compete on their home pitch. Of the 22 total goals scored, Irish forward Jon Gallagher leads the squad with six. Defender Jack Metcalf leads the team in chances created with 19.
The two teams last met May 5th at Nippert Stadium. That match showcased the birth of a star, as Emmanuel Ledesma scored a brace in the 4-2 victory. The win was FCC’s first at home in 2018 and displayed the lethal attacking combination of Danni König and Emmanuel Ledesma. The two combined for 3 goals and 1 assist that evening.
There will be one glaring advantage for the home team in this contest, rest. Atlanta United 2 has not played a league match since August 11th when they lost at Charleston Battery 0-1. This can be a disadvantage by not having competed, but fresh legs should not be a problem. FC Cincinnati will have only three days rest so fatigue could play a factor. Yet one thing FCC can rely on is its incredible depth. Expect to see movement in the starting XI this match, not only to provide rest, but possibly looking ahead to the final match of this eight day, three game stretch. In addition, Ledesma will be suspended for Wednesday’s match after receiving his eighth caution of the season in last Saturday’s win.
Points from all competitions are coveted, but the FCC coaching staff needs to be cautious not to look past Wednesday’s match in preparation for Saturday’s tilt in Tampa Bay. Ever wonder why Alan Koch and the technical staff of FCC have so many quality players to choose from? Don’t think for a second that the number of games being played and the resources available aren’t critical at this stage of the season. Check out the fast facts below to see the stats for yourself.
Here are five fast facts to get you ready for Wednesday’s 7:00 p.m. kick at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, GA:
- This week represents the fourth time this season that FCC will have 3 matches in a eight -day span. Of the nine games making up the first three occasions, FCC has a remarkable 8-0-1 record! Squad depth your Honor? I rest my case.
- FCC doesn’t mind the weekday grind matches either. This season they’ve racked up 7 points from 3 midweek games (2-0-1). As a franchise, they have a 7-4-5 record all time when playing non-weekend matches.
- One area where Atlanta has out-performed FCC is in friendly play, or more precisely the lower accumulation of yellow cards. The home-side has been shown a yellow 31 times this season (second lowest in the league) as compared to 47 yellows the Orange & Blue have received. FCC has yet to receive a red, whereas Atlanta United 2 have been shown the door twice.
- No match should be taken lightly, of course. Atlanta United do have the ability to win at home. Actually, they seem to only earn points at home as 13 of their total 16 points come from the safe confines of their own backyard. As highlighted above, they’ve only loss once at home in eight games.
- Should FCC find at least a point Wednesday, their unbeaten streak moves to 14 matches and will tie the fourth longest streak in USL history. FCC will share that honor with New York Red Bulls II, who achieved that total in 2016 on their way to the USL Cup title. It will take another three unbeaten to reach the third best of 17, currently held by Louisville City FC.
Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati at Atlanta United 2 this Wednesday.