With the Eastern Conference crown captured on Saturday, FC Cincinnati can now turn their attention to finishing with the best record in the USL. They’ll meet the Richmond Kickers at City Stadium on Wednesday with just four matches remaining in the 2018 regular season. Alan Koch’s side will face the Kickers while maintaining a staggering eight-game win streak and a 19-game unbeaten run.
Two teams from the Western Conference, Orange County SC and Phoenix Rising FC, still have a slim chance to match or better FC Cincinnati’s current point total. If the Orange & Blue win on Wednesday night, that won’t matter. They’ll finish with the best record in league, clinching home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and the right to host the USL Cup final if they get there.
It was June when these two Eastern Conference foes last met. FC Cincinnati delivered one of their most comprehensive performances of the season that night, beating Richmond 4-0. Emmanuel Ledesma scored twice, and Nazmi Albadawi and Danni König did the rest of the damage. A crowd of 28,026 was on hand to witness the rout. That attendance has been the highest total at Nippert to date in 2018. The Orange & Blue are 2-0-3 all-time against the Kickers. Although they’ve beaten the Virginia outfit in both of the last two meetings, they’ve never won a match in Richmond. Both previous games at City Stadium finished 1-1.
David Bulow’s Richmond Kickers squad currently sits in 15th place in the Eastern Conference and has already been eliminated from playoff contention. The 38-year-old former Richmond player is in his first year as head coach there. He was appointed following the decision of long-time skipper Leigh Cowlishaw to step aside after 19 seasons at the helm.
Alan Koch should have a fairly full squad to choose from and will likely continue a policy of rotation. Richie Ryan is still out with a long-term leg injury, and both Fatai Alashe and Pa Konate are nursing minor knee injuries and listed as questionable for the contest.
Here are five fast facts to get you ready for Wednesday’s 7:00pm kickoff.
- FCC’s offense gets a lot of attention, but their defense has conceded the third fewest goals in USL this season at 30 (tied with two other teams). In comparison, the Kickers have conceded 67 goals over the same number of games.
- The Kickers are also dead last in the USL in goals scored at 25 total for the season.
- Despite their vastly different results this season, the Richmond Kickers’ passing accuracy of 78% is 0.5% higher than FC Cincinnati’s.
- Forrest Lasso made a monumental header-save on Saturday to secure FC Cincinnati’s victory. The North Carolina native leads the team in clearances, blocks, and aerial duels won. He has won 96 more aerial duels than any other player on FC Cincinnati’s roster. Wow.
- The Richmond Kickers hold the longest unbeaten streak in USL history at 22 matches without a loss, which they achieved in 2013. FC Cincinnati can move within two of that total with a win or a draw on Wednesday. They can surpass the Kicker’s historic record if they extend their unbeaten streak through the end of the regular season.
Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati versus the Richmond Kickers on Wednesday night.