Following a fantastic run of three games that produced maximum points, FC Cincinnati returns home to Nippert Stadium to take on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in a clash of the Eastern Conference elite. Alan Koch’s team is firmly seated in first place with 57 points and is protecting an 11-point lead atop the conference. They have won 6 of their last 7 played and look to extend a 15-game league unbeaten streak that stretches back to May. Additionally, they have a chance to clinch a playoff berth with a win and some help from elsewhere on Saturday.
This is the second meeting between these two teams at Nippert Stadium this season. FCC snatched a comeback 2-2 draw in April on home turf. Kenney Walker provided a dramatic 78th-minute equalizer in a match that Pittsburgh led twice. The Orange & Blue, with a fully rotated squad, also ended the Hounds’ U.S. Open Cup run with a 3-1 victory at Highmark in May. FCC has never lost to Pittsburgh in their three-year history, going 4-0-3 all-time against the Riverhounds in all competitions.
Bob Lilley’s Pittsburgh squad currently sits in third place in the Eastern Conference, virtually level on points with Louisville City FC. They had a chance to overtake LCFC and move into second place on Wednesday, but could only muster a 2-2 draw in the Hoosier State against Indy Eleven. The Riverhounds are undefeated in five, but have drawn their last three and are losing pace with FC Cincinnati.
Alan Koch’s squad will have fewer defensive options than usual for this match. Both Blake Smith and Paddy Barrett are suspended for Saturday’s contest. FCC’s deep roster should still provide plenty of options to compensate for the absentees. Thomas Vancaeyezeele, who scored for Pittsburgh in the April match, is also suspended for yellow-card accumulation. Raymond Lee will also be missing for the Hounds after being shown a straight red in Wednesday’s match against Indy Eleven.
Here are five fast facts to get you ready for Saturday’s 7:30pm kickoff.
- The Riverhounds bring their brand of ultra-defensive “Lilleyball” back to Nippert Stadium. They boast 15 cleans sheets and only 14 total goals allowed this season, both best in the USL. Interestingly, FCC put 5 total goals past the Hounds in the two matches played against them this year.
- It’s offense versus defense, as FC Cincinnati has scored 22 more goals this season than the Riverhounds. FCC’s trio of Ledesma (13), Konig (10), and Albadawi (9) lead the way in scoring. Additionally, FC Cincinnati has 8 players that have scored more than 1 goal. In comparison, only 4 players for Pittsburgh have scored more than once.
- Neco Brett is the Hounds’ primary offensive threat with 13 goals on the season. Brett has 9 more than any other player and has scored 5 of the team’s last 9 goals. He is also tied for second on the team in assists (4).
- Fatai Alashe has seen the most action of any of FC Cincinnati’s new MLS signees. He’s started the last 3 matches and logged 188 total minutes. He’s produced an 82% passing accuracy, scored his first goal, and won 14 of 24 duels in FCC’s defensive midfield.
- Despite their defensive approach, the Riverhounds keep things clean. They’ve only accumulated 32 total yellow cards this season, second lowest in the USL. On the other hand, FCC has accumulated 51 yellow cards. FC Cincinnati saw red for the first time this season when Blake Smith was issued an unusual second yellow last Saturday versus Tampa for time wasting.
Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati versus the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.