With the USL regular-season silverware celebration captured in Cincinnati sports history now, many are ready for the playoffs to begin. However, FC Cincinnati has two more regular season matches left to play. This Saturday at Highmark Stadium, FC Cincinnati squares off against rivals Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. The Orange & Blue are 5-0-3 all-time versus the Riverhounds in all competitions.
This will be the fourth time these sides square off this season, the third in the regular season. Both of the previous USL matches were played at Nippert Stadium. In April, FCC was able to find an equalizer not just once, but twice to scratch out a come-from-behind 2-2 draw. On Labor Day weekend, the Orange & Blue erased an early second-half deficit, and Fanendo Adi’s display of strength and skill delivered the game-winning, playoff-clinching goal in the 88th minute. Let’s revisit that spectacular first goal in Orange & Blue for Adi one more time.
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) September 2, 2018
Pittsburgh is battling Louisville City for 2nd place overall in the Eastern Conference and will be gunning for the full 3 points on Saturday. They are tied at 57 points each with three matches left, but Louisville currently owns the first tiebreaker scenario. Since their loss to FCC on September 1st, the Riverhounds are unbeaten in their last five matches (3-0-2). In this stretch, they have uncharacteristically played higher scoring matches, scoring 13 and allowing 7 goals. Pittsburgh is 9-2-6 at home this season.
The Orange & Blue are riding a league record 10-match winning streak and 21-game unbeaten stretch. With a win or draw on Saturday, FCC will tie the USL modern record of 22 matches set by the Richmond Kickers during the 2013 season. FC Cincinnati comes in with an astounding 11-1-3 road record this campaign. Saturday’s line-up can go in many directions, considering Alan Koch deployed 22 total players over the last two games. Forward Danni König will be unavailable as he’s suspended one match for yellow-card accumulation. Regardless of who gets the starting nod, there is pride, playoff preparation, and an MLS roster spot to fight for.
Here are five fast facts to get you ready for Saturday’s 7 pm away match vs Pittsburgh.
- Best Offense vs Best Defense – FCC boasts the USL’s top offense with 69 goals and a sublime 22% conversion scoring rate. The Riverhounds come into the match with the staunchest defense, allowing just 23 goals total and keeping 16 clean sheets. That converts to a paltry 0.74 goals against average (GAA) per match and a clean sheet 52% of the time.
- Of those 23 goals and 0.74 GAA given up by Pittsburgh, FC Cincinnati has scored 4 times in two league matches against the Riverhounds, a 2.00 GAA. Combine that with the 3 tallies FCC knocked in during the U.S. Open Cup third-round game in May and FCC has been the exception this year in scoring against Pittsburgh.
- The Jamaican trio of Neco Brett, Kenardo Forbes, and Romeo Parkes have held the lion’s share of Pittsburgh’s offensive production this season. They have accumulated 24 of the team’s 45 goals (Brett has 15 of these). In addition, Forbes and Brett have accounted for 15 of the squad’s 32 total assists.
- Interestingly, FCC’s distribution figures for the season are quite a bit higher than Pittsburgh’s. The Orange & Blue pass at a rate of 342 successful passes per game as compared to the Riverhounds’ 308 per game. Cincinnati leads the PA-side in passing accuracy, 77.4% to 72.1%.
- FC Cincinnati currently has three players with double-digit goals this season (Emmanuel Ledesma – 16, Danni König – 11 and Nazmi Albadawi – 10). Should “Magic-Man” Corben Bone score one more goal this season, it will be the first time a USL squad has four different players on a team reach this pivotal mark in a single season.
Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage on Saturday night’s penultimate regular season game in Pittsburgh.