FC Cincinnati announced its full 2019 schedule on Monday, and fans can finally plan for the big games against new and existing rivals. We picked through the finer details to give you a few insights beyond the basics.
You’ve probably already heard about FC Cincinnati’s exceptionally difficult start to the season. The first three games are away to Seattle and Atlanta, then home to the Portland Timbers. That’s a brutal early gauntlet. Things don’t get much easier thereafter, as six of their next seven opponents were also 2018 playoff teams. The only non-playoff opposition in FCC’s first 10 can be found on March 24th away to the New England Revolution.
The schedule gets more manageable thereafter. However, there is another tough-looking run in August when the Orange & Blue face the Crew, home and away, with NYCFC sandwiched in between. They’re then off to Frisco, Texas to face FC Dallas before returning home to duel with Toronto FC.
Father’s Day Break & Sundays
Most of the weekends from March and October are now dedicated to supporting the Orange & Blue. There is just a single weekend where the FCC doesn’t have a match once things kick off in March. That is Father’s Day weekend, June 15-16th. That slot could accommodate a US Open Cup match, but those are typically played midweek. This weekend might not feature matches, as it is caught between a FIFA international window and the start of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
MLS’s new condensed schedule features more midweek games, as there are a total of four Wednesday or Thursday matches this season. That isn’t a change for FCC fans accustomed to the USL calendar. However, fans will have to get used to quite a few more Sunday games, with nine total during the regular season.
Day of Week Breakdown
U.S. Open Cup
FC Cincinnati’s involvement in everyone’s favorite cup competition should begin in early June. That will serve up a dose of schedule congestion similar to year’s past. Here are the possible dates in June and July if FCC progresses to play in three USOC games.
6/1 at Colorado Rapids
6/6 at NYCFC (Thursday)
6/12 – USOC 4th Round
6/22 – LA Galaxy
6/26 – USOC 5th Round
6/29 – at Minnesota United
7/6 – Houston Dynamo
7/10 – USOC Quarterfinal
7/13 – at Chicago Fire
7/18 – D.C. United (Thursday)
The NYCFC and D.C. United games are both on Thursday which limits the weeks that FCC can participate in a midweek USOC game. These scheduling wrinkles could cause the fourth round to get moved up to late May, but then the earlier USOC rounds would have to move even earlier. The big change, of course, is that MLS teams enter later in the tournament, expectedly in the fourth round.
Schedule Symmetry & Home Finish
The MLS schedule will look a little more balanced in 2019 than it has in seasons past. FC Cincinnati will play every other team in the Eastern Conference twice – once home and once away. Furthermore, they will play each team in the Western Conference one time, either home or away. Every team’s schedule is now organized in this fashion and has a more “fair” look, or at least that was the goal.
One really pleasant change from season’s past is FC Cincinnati’s end-of-season calendar. Alan Koch and company could be scrapping for a playoff spot come September, and Orange & Blue will get to play three of his last four games at Nippert Stadium.
Five Best Road Trips
The FC Cincinnati faithful will look to build on their reputation as good travelers in the first MLS season. With new regional rivals, there are a lot of travel dates to choose from on the 2019 calendar. Here are our top 5 road-trip recommendations.
#5 – June 29th at Minnesota United – It’s a quick flight and a Saturday game. You can check out the new Allianz Field in Saint Paul while watching the Orange & Blue claim revenge for the 2018 USOC penalty-kick defeat.
#4 – May 19 at Orlando City – It will probably still be drizzling in Cincy in May, so head south to Florida and heckle James O’Connor in his new home while taking in some sunshine.
#3 – March 10th at Atlanta United – It’s right after the big MLS opener, but if you can’t make it to Seattle, you must make it Atlanta and see what 70+ thousand screaming MLS fans look like in a plush Mercedes Benz Stadium.
#2 – March 2nd at Seattle Sounders – Washington is on the other side of the country, but it’s FC Cincinnati’s first-ever MLS game, and it comes equipped with one of the best environments that MLS has to offer. We’re sure you can find a way.
#1 – August 10th at Columbus Crew – We have to wait until August (*sigh*), but the Crew
Lots of big dates and interesting twists ahead. Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of the MLS SuperDraft and FC Cincinnati’s preseason.