Match Program: FC Cincinnati vs Louisville City FC

Orange and Blue Press’ match program for FC Cincinnati vs Louisville City offers images, infographics, and fast facts to get you ready for the Dirty River Derby.

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Multiple players tied with 1 goal
Multiple players tied with 1 goal and 1 assist  — Design: CSDIV / Photos: Ryan Meyer (scarves), Joe Schmuck (FCC players)

Welcome to Dirty River Derby week!

If we needed any extra ammunition to this entertaining rivalry, FC Cincinnati and Louisville City FC come into Saturday’s contest at Nippert Stadium with identical perfect records, two wins and two clean sheets each. The “boys in purple” edge out FCC in the Eastern Conference standings by goals scored, three to two. The difference though is that the Orange and Blue have played both matches away. In contrast, LCFC hasn’t left their cozy baseball field yet.

Head-to-head in USL regular season play, the two teams are all square to date – 2 wins, 2 draws, and 2 losses (1-1-1 at home). Additionally, the Orange and Blue secured the 1-0 U.S. Open Cup victory over LCFC last May. FC Cincinnati will be looking to rebound from last August’s 0-5 drubbing at Slugger Field when Sam de Wit was sent off in the 36th minute.

LouCity will be arriving with extra swagger after winning the USL Cup in 2017 and defeating a strong Tampa Bay Rowdies squad 1-0 last Saturday. Expect to see Coach James O’Connor deploy his preferred 3-4-2-1 formation and attempt to control the midfield and run of play from box-to-box. Key Louisville City signings this offseason include Jamaican international/former Columbus Crew midfielder Shaun Francis and former FCC defender Pat McMahon (28 career appearances for the Orange & Blue).

Fast Facts

A few tidbits to charge your inner fandom.

  • FC Cincinnati currently sits last in the USL in shots taken with only 17 over their first two matches. However, their efficient scoring conversion rate of 18% places them in the league’s top ten in this more significant statistic.
  • Kenney Walker is day-to-day after suffering a concussion against Indy. It’s likely you’ll see a different FCC starting XI for the first time this season. Will Seymore has proven his worth to earn a start alongside Richie Ryan. Look for Garret Halfhill to make his first appearance on the substitutes bench. All other FCC players (minus Tyler Gibson) should be available for selection.
  • Former Orange and Blue, and local Cincinnati United Premier (CUP) product, Luke Spencer, looks to extend his hot play against FCC. He led the Louisville City attack last season with 11 goals and 5 assists in all competitions. As a true #9, Spencer tallied a goal and two assists the last time these two sides met.
  • SHOTS FIRED – 70% of LCFC’s shots this season have come from inside the 18-yard box. FCC’s “Wall of Defense” will need to stand tall and continue to hold their opponent’s shots to less than 50% from this dangerous proximity.
  • ATTENDANCE Yes, when at home we’re always looking to break another USL attendance record. Look for the Orange and Blue faithful to surpass the season home opener mark of 23,144 set last April versus Saint Louis FC.

What is your attendance prediction for Saturday’s titanic match? Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage leading up to Saturday’s Dirty River Derby.

Special thanks to CSDIV for the graphics and special edition cover for this match program. More on the inspiration for this design here.

Preseason Match Two – Takeaways, Player Selection, and Who Looked Good

More on FC Cincinnati’s second preseason match including takeaways, team selection, and who looked good.

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All photos courtesy Ryan Meyer Photography

Two preseason matches have translated into a draw and a win for FC Cincinnati. Here are a few observations from yesterday’s 1-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rowdies, as the Orange & Blue continue their preseason preparations in Florida.

Match Takeaways

First and most importantly, the squad escaped the match with no additional injuries. After Heinemann’s release and Gibson’s broken leg, the team can’t afford more injury trouble in the preseason. The players continue to build fitness, and the focus now is on learning the tactical system that the coaching staff is putting in place. Saturday’s win is a nice plus, and the team should take some confidence from it.

On the other side of the coin, the Rowdies controlled much of the first half and created clearer chances despite being only a week into preseason. That Tampa Bay squad looks solid, and they strengthened an already strong roster in the offseason. We shouldn’t analyze anything too closely at this point, but it would have been ideal if our first eleven was able to possess the ball more and create more clear chances versus their stronger counterparts. The starters did show some sustained pressure in the closing minutes of the first half and also earned a number of corners and free kicks.

The second-half unit did well to grab the lead and hold onto it with four trialists in the squad. They were playing against a weaker Rowdies eleven, but one that still had good quality (see one Marcel Schäfer).

Closer to a Starting XI

The first preseason match against New England featured two mixed lineups in each half, that blended likely starters with less experienced players pretty evenly. In contrast, Alan Koch fielded a very strong first half lineup against the Rowdies, again in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

First Half Lineup:
König
Haber – Bone – Ledesma
Walker – Albadawi
Smith – Lasso – Barrett – Hoyte
Richey

One could tip quite a few of these players to start in the March 17 opener against Charleston, although it’s still way too early to be certain. The second-half roster was definitely more experimental and aimed at getting a good look at the trialists, while mixing in the experience of players like Keinan, Laing, Bahner, and Newton.

Second Half Lineup:
Trialist #1
Laing – Trialist #2 – Cicerone
Halfhill – De Wit
Trialist #3 – Keinan – Trialist #4 – Bahner
Newton

There were definitely some new faces in the mix yesterday that we haven’t seen in training before. Notably, two of them started in the center forward and attacking midfield roles. Keep an eye on this space, as Alan Koch looks to add additional quality to the roster and find a suitable replacement for Tommy Heinemann.

Who looked good?

1. The goalies. Both Spencer Richey and Evan Newton looked sharp and made key saves to keep the Rowdies off the score sheet. The whole team has to be satisfied any time it can produce a clean sheet, even if it’s preseason.

2. Garrett Halfhill. Halfhill made the headlines with his goal and had another nice outing as a central defensive midfielder, this time lining-up next to Sem De Wit.

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Garrett Halfhill

3. Lance Laing. Laing showed his versatility on Saturday. He started the match on the left wing and provided the assist for Halfhill’s goal. Later in the half, he moved into the back line after McLaughlin entered the match. There, Laing made a critical clearance at the back post to keep to Rowdies off the board late in the game. It was also great to see Jimmy McLaughlin back on the field after his early season foot injury.

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Lance Laing

Two preseason matches are now in the books. FC Cincinnati will conclude its Florida friendlies with a match next Wednesday against the Chicago Fire Reserves.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati 2018 preseason.

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FC Cincinnati 1 – 0 Tampa Bay Rowdies: Halfhill with the Preseason Decider

Following a solid debut, FC Cincinnati held Tampa Bay in check to score their first win of the 2018 preseason.

Recap-FCC-Tampa-0210With one full preseason game in the books, FC Cincinnati squared off against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, a team that has proven to be difficult for FCC to figure out. The last time the Orange & Blue met up with Tampa Bay, the Rowdies delivered a 3-0 spanking at Al Lang Stadium that eliminated FCC from the playoffs.

The Rowdies were making their preseason debut after adding forward Jochen Graf and midfielder Junior Flemmings to their already-stacked squad, while FC Cincinnati was coming off of a 1-1 draw against the New England Revolution on Tuesday.

Both teams played two different squads in each half, with FCC trotting out a starting XI that carried over seven players from the first-half team on Tuesday. Tampa Bay countered with Graf and Flemmings playing alongside Joe Cole, and that appeared to give Tampa Bay the energy and presence to rattle the FCC defense. Graf got two good looks in the middle, only for goalkeeper Spencer Richey to sprawl to his right twice and deny Graf. Despite the possession being dominated by the Rowdies, both squads went into halftime with a 0-0 score.

FCC provided a trialist-heavy squad in the second half that saw Lance Laing and Russell Cicerone playing on the wings, while Tampa Bay brought in a squad loaded with Marcel Schafer and Georgi Hristov in the middle. Despite the difference in known talent between the two teams, FC Cincinnati took the lead in the 63rd minute—Laing threaded a pass from the right of the Tampa Bay goal back to Garrett Halfhill, who cranked a right-footed shot under a sliding defender and past goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald to give the Orange and Blue a 1-0 lead.

For the rest of the game, Tampa Bay pressed harder on offense, only for Laing and Dekel Keinan to counter with solid defense. Hristov managed to make the middle a problem for FCC, heading a shot right at Evan Newton in the 75th minute, then clipping the crossbar on a dangerous free kick in the 83rd. FCC made some substitutions late in the game, and the defense salted away some heavy pressure in the box to keep the 1-0 win.

Key Events

21’ Yellow Card – Nazmi Albadawi (FCC)
41’ Yellow Card – Paddy Barrett (FCC)

63’ Goal – Garrett Halfhill, assisted by Lance Laing (FCC)
76’ Yellow Card – Hunter Gorskie (TBR)
86’ Yellow Card – Alex Morrell (TBR)
88’ Yellow Card – Georgi Hristov (TBR)

Match Notes

While the true formations for FCC’s squads were uncertain, it appeared they went with the familiar 4-2-3-1 setup to mirror Tampa Bay’s own formation. Richey got the start in goal in the first half, while Newton took over in the second half. Corben Bone appeared to again be pushed forward into more of a midfield role, while Kenney Walker and Albadawi played behind him.

The squad was completely replaced in the second half with four trialists used mostly down the center of the formation. Two were removed in the 80th minute for Will Seymore and Jimmy McLaughlin. The Pennsylvania native made his first appearance of the spring after spending some time dealing with an injury. Josu, who is still recovering from offseason surgery, did not make an appearance in uniform. Forward Emery Welshman and goalkeeper Mark Village were not inserted into the game.

Naturally, this does not count in the actual win column against the Rowdies, but this should give FCC some good vibes going into their final Florida game. While the team still doesn’t have a starting XI figured out, both squads played well against a talented Rowdies roster that looks to be a handful and should compete near the top of the standings. For Tampa Bay, Graf already appears to be a solid striker after a successful opening season with Rochester in 2017. If goalkeeper Cody Mizell has a season like he did for Charlotte last year, the Rowdies look loaded for bear.

First Half Lineup:
König
Haber – Bone – Ledesma
Walker – Albadawi
Smith – Lasso – Barrett – Hoyte
Richey

Second Half Lineup:
Trialist #1
Laing – Trialist #2 – Cicerone
Halfhill – De Wit
Trialist #3 – Keinan – Trialist #4 – Bahner
Newton

Substitutes:
80’ – McLaughlin (for Trialist #1)
80’ – Seymore (for Trialist #2)

While the audio and video took some time to be adjusted, IMG was able to provide a YouTube video feed of the game that you can access again for a replay.

Next Up

FC Cincinnati’s stacked preseason rolls on with their third and final friendly at IMG Academy against the Chicago Fire’s reserve team on Wednesday, February 14th at 10:30 AM (stream TBD). The team will then return to the Tri-State area for five more preseason friendlies against USL teams and local colleges before they begin the USL season in Charleston.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 preseason.

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