Saint Louis FC 2 – 2 FC Cincinnati: Talking Points

FC Cincinnati earned a late draw against Saint Louis FC in Fenton, Missouri, in a match that ended all square at 2-2. The Orange and Blue entered the match in sixth place in the Eastern Conference and were on the hunt for elusive road points.

The match started with Saint Louis FC playing the role of the aggressor. FC Cincinnati absorbed pressure and looked to counter-attack. They found it difficult to connect new-look forward Kyle Greig to their play, however.

Saint Louis FC drew first blood at the end of the first half. Seth Rudolph made a mazy run into the final third, dribbling easily around De Wit and Hoyte. He unleashed a powerful right-footer that screamed into the top right corner, beating Hildebrandt.

Alan Koch went to his 20 goal bench early in the second half. Danni König entered the match in place of Kyle Greig in the 53rd minute in an attempt to stir-up more offense.

Just six minutes later, the home side doubled their lead. Christian Volesky converted from the spot after Harrison Delbridge was whistled for a handball in the penalty area. The Australian was sliding to block a shot but the strike careened into his raised right hand.

Amazingly, the Orange and Blue produced their second consecutive comeback in a road match in the final 30 minutes of play plus stoppage time. Corben Bone scored in the aftermath of a corner kick in the 70th minute. A headed Saint Louis FC clearance fell just outside of their penalty area. Bone sent it immediately back at goal with a half-volley that beat Gorrick through traffic.

In the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time, Jimmy McLaughlin was fouled in the box after getting on the end of a late long ball. Danni König stepped up and converted the penalty kick, and FC Cincinnati escaped Missouri with a point.

Like the match against Harrisburg, it was another last-gasp equalizer on the road. It was also another valuable point to add to their regular season tally.

Saint Louis FC 2 – 2 FC Cincinnati: Talking Points

Center Forward Selection

Kyle Greig started the match at center forward in preference to the team’s two top scorers Djiby and Danni König. It wasn’t a night to remember for the Vancouver Whitecaps loanee. He had just 11 touches, did not produce a shot, and was shown a yellow card before being replaced by Danni König. The team struggled to provide him with service and he was regularly surrounded by multiple Saint Louis FC defenders. Djiby also entered the match in the 68th minute after FC Cincinnati was down two goals.

Off Target First Half

The first half featured 14 shots combined for the two teams. Only two of those were on target though, including Rudolph’s goal. FC Cincinnati had 6 shots in the first half, with a Matt Bahner strike being the only one that required a save. We’ve seen several games this season where the Orange and Blue create chances but can’t find their finishing quality at the vital moment. FC Cincinnati did not produce a second on-target shot until the 70th minute when Austin Berry’s set-piece header was tipped over by Gorrick.

Penalty Kicks

FC Cincinnati conceded their ninth penalty kick of the season, resulting in Saint Louis FC’s second goal. They went four consecutive matches without conceding a spot-kick until Delbridge was penalized in the second half for a handball. Mitch has saved two of the nine, but couldn’t get in the way of Volesky’s down-the-middle strike that gave Saint Louis FC a two-goal advantage.

Record Comeback

They left it late but a second-half surge proved enough to earn a draw in this late-season contest steeped in playoff implications. Saturday was the first time FC Cincinnati has come from two goals down to draw or win a match in team history.

Playoff Race

FC Cincinnati remains in sixth place after Saturday’s draw. They add one point to their total which brings them to 40 points on the season. They have three road matches remaining to secure their playoff berth. Next up is a trip to face the second place Charlotte Independence on Friday, September 29th.

In front of FC Cincinnati, Tampa Bay beat Charlotte by a single goal. The Rowdies have a 4 point advantage over FC Cincinnati with two games in hand. However, the Rochester Rhinos slipped up in a match that many thought they would win. They lost to the 14th place Richmond Kickers away from home. The Rhinos are three points in front of FC Cincinnati but have played one less game.

Orlando City B creeps closer to the Orange and Blue after beating the Charleston Battery. They now sit just one point below FC Cincinnati in seventh. New York Red Bulls II currently occupies the eighth place and did not play on Saturday. Bethlehem Steel FC is in ninth and plays against Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Check here for the latest USL Eastern Conference standings and stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s push for the playoffs.

Cheat Sheet: FC Cincinnati at Saint Louis FC

Photo courtesy Ryan Meyer Photography

FC Cincinnati travels to Fenton, Missouri to take on Saint Louis FC in the first of four road tests that will close out the 2017 regular season.

The Orange and Blue earned three important points last Saturday in their home finale against New York Red Bulls II. Harrison Delbridge scored the game-winner in a six-goal thriller in front of a USL record crowd at Nippert Stadium. That win pushed FC Cincinnati up to sixth in the Eastern Conference. Saint Louis FC currently sits in eleventh place but trails FCC by just five league points.

These teams have met twice this year already, both times in Cincinnati. Alan Koch’s side strolled to victory both times, with a 4-0 victory in April followed by a 2-0 victory in June. Earning a win won’t be as easy on the road, where FC Cincinnati has struggled this season. They still have just two victories away from Nippert in USL play this season.

It’s Central Time in Saint Louis, so make note of the 8:30 pm ET kickoff.

Four Fast Facts

Here are four fast facts to serve as a backdrop for Saturday’s match in Saint Louis.

  • Saint Louis FC is third in USL in fouls conceded with 418. Compare this to FC Cincinnati’s 377 over the same number of games.
  • Kenney Walker has twice as many key passes (chances created plus assists) than anyone on Saint Louis FC’s roster. FC Cincinnati’s midfield standout has 42 total key passes this season.
  • Saint Louis FC loaned striker Jose Angulo (8 total goals in 2017) to OKC Energy in July in exchange for the permanent signing of striker Daniel Jackson.
  • FC Cincinnati has an opportunity to leapfrog Tampa Bay in the standings with a win. The Rowdies face the second-place Charlotte Independence in a difficult matchup on Saturday. However, Tampa Bay still has two games in hand on the Orange and Blue.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of Saturday’s contest.

 

Match Photos: FC Cincinnati 2 – 0 Saint Louis FC

Thirty images of FC Cincinnati’s 2-0 victory over Saint Louis FC at Nippert Stadium, courtesy of Joe Schmuck.

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Here are 30 images of FC Cincinnati’s league victory over Saint Louis FC courtesy of Joe Schmuck. When browsing the gallery below for any given image, a high resolution version can be found by scrolling down and clicking “View Full Size.”

Also see the recap FC Cincinnati 2 – 0 Saint Louis FC: A Much Needed Home Three

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

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FC Cincinnati 2 – 0 Saint Louis FC: A Much Needed Home Three

Three takeaways from a comprehensive home victory for FC Cincinnati against Saint Louis FC at Nippert Stadium on Saturday, June 24th.

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Photo courtesy of JES Photography / Joe Schmuck

FC Cincinnati earned a vital 2-0 home victory against Saint Louis FC at Nippert Stadium on Saturday. The Orange and Blue started on the front foot, and took the lead in the seventh minute courtesy of an A. J. Cochran own goal. Andrew Wiedeman broke through Saint Louis’ defense, and had a one-on-one opportunity against the keeper. He put a shot past Saint Louis net-minder Adam Grinwis. The shot deflected off Cochran’s foot and into goal as the center back tried to recover. Substitute Danni König then doubled the tally for Alan Koch’s side in the 66th minute, slotting home a close-range effort assisted by Jimmy McLaughlin.

The victory was the most complete performance by FC Cincinnati this season. Their play was characterized by precise midfield passing and movement, threatening attacks from a dynamic front three, and a defense that snuffed-out Saint Louis FC’s attacks before they materialized.

Takeaways

Strong Lineup with a Formation Twist

FC Cincinnati sent out a first choice eleven for this match, despite speculation that some of the team’s best players might rest with an eye on the midweek US Open Cup match. Alan Koch tweaked the 3-5-2 formation the team has employed over the past three games, and transitioned to a 3-4-3. Rather than two pure strikers at the top of the formation, Andrew Wiedeman and Jimmy McLaughlin flanked Djiby Fall. FC Cincinnati’s attack looked as dynamic on Saturday as it has all season. The team came out flying, producing 9 shots in the first half, with 6 on target. Jimmy McLaughlin should have scored a second for FC Cincinnati in the 44th minute. His right-footed blast beat the keeper but clattered off the right post. Danni König came on for Djiby to seal the victory. His goal came just two minutes after he entered the match.

Kenney Walker Ran the Midfield

A lot of players produced great performances on Saturday, and are worthy of individual praise. Kenney Walker was exceptional though. He led the team in touches (90), passes (69 total at an 84% completion rate), duels won (10), tackles (8), and chances created (3, tied with McLaughlin). He is a complete player and the heartbeat of the team. A midfielder with an eye for a tackle doesn’t often make the highlight reel, but his contributions with and without the ball should not be underestimated.
Alan Koch said the following of Walker after the match.

“Kenney is one of those players, you notice him when he’s playing, but you notice it maybe more when he’s not playing. He’s a player that every single little individual detail that you ask him to do, he does it right. It says a lot about him as a professional, he’ll embrace whatever role you’ll give him. As a coach, I see every single day how good he is…it’s great to have him back fit, healthy, and sharp.”

Andrew Wiedeman and Jimmy McLaughlin also had standout performances. König iced the game. Nicholson continues to thrive in the back three, and Polak impressed again. In truth, the performance by the collective unit was impressive and it was great to see the team win and not rely so heavily on Djiby to do so.

Much Needed Home Three

FC Cincinnati’s league form has simply not been great this season. Coming into the match, they were in tenth place in the Eastern Conference. Further, they were in the bottom third of the conference in points-per-game average. They were coming off back-to-back home draws in the league, and had earned only four points away from home out of 18 possible. Anything other than a win in this match would have sent this team close to the cellar of the Eastern Conference. Although there’s over half of the season to play, a loss would have put in doubt the team’s ability to compete for a top four spot, which secures at least one home playoff game.

An emphatic win is just what the doctor ordered. This team has shown glimpses of improvement in recent games, and everything came together against Saint Louis FC Saturday. The win elevates FC Cincinnati to sixth place on twenty points after 15 matches played. This victory will hopefully act as a platform for the team to build on for the second half of the 2017 season.

Spotlight on Cincy

FC Cincinnati fans don’t need to be reminded about what’s in store for them this week, but I’ll do it anyway. The Chicago Fire, the second place team in MLS’ Eastern Conference, travels to Cincinnati for a US Open Cup round-of-16 clash at Nippert Stadium. The national spotlight will be on Cincinnati for one of the most important matches in this club’s short history. Kenney Walker said the following about Wednesday’s matchup.

“I’m just excited to play against that caliber of team. The atmosphere is going to be phenomenal, but you always want to match up with the best players you can. Every position will be tested. We had the opportunity against the Crew, and now we have another top MLS team at Nippert. It allows you to see how you match up with the guy standing across from you.”

Match Photos via Joe Schmuck

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Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more news, analysis, and color commentary on FC Cincinnati.
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Cheat Sheet: FC Cincinnati vs Saint Louis FC

An information graphic provides the vital details for Saturday’s match between FC Cincinnati and Saint Louis FC. Plus, four fast facts.

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Image for header and info graphic courtesy of Ryan Meyer Photography

FC Cincinnati continues a five game June home stand on Saturday with a matchup against Saint Louis FC. The Orange and Blue will benefit from a full week’s rest after their 2-2 draw on June 17th against the Charleston Battery.

Alan Koch’s side earned their marquee victory so far in the 2017 USL season against Saint Louis FC. They defeated the Missouri side 4-0 at Nippert Stadium on April 15th. Djiby Fall had a perfect hat trick plus one in that contest.

Saint Louis FC has fallen from grace after their tax day defeat at the hands of FC Cincinnati. They were in first place in the Eastern Conference before that match. Since, they have won just a single game and have gone 1-3-2 in league play. They sit in 12th in the Eastern Conference, two points behind FC Cincinnati but having played three fewer matches.

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Here are four fast facts to serve as a backdrop for Saturday’s contest.

  • Since the two sides last met on April 15th, FC Cincinnati has had a much heavier match schedule than Saint Louis FC. The Orange and Blue have played 13 matches in that time period, compared to their opponent’s nine.
  • Center back Harrison Delbridge leads FC Cincinnati’s defense in clearances (55), blocks (9), interceptions (42), and duels won (92).
  • Only one of Saint Louis FC’s 13 goals this season has been scored from a header (8%). 53% of FC Cincinnati’s goals, 8 of 15, have come from headed shots.
  • Saint Louis FC exited the US Open Cup in the fourth round by a 1-0 scoreline at the hands of the Chicago Fire. FC Cincinnati will face that same MLS side in the fifth round of that tournament at Nippert next Wednesday, June 28th.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of Saturday’s match.

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Match Photos: FC Cincinnati 4 – Saint Louis FC 0

Thirty five images courtesy of Ryan Meyer of FC Cincinnati’s dramatic 4-0 victory over Saint Louis FC in front of 23,144 at Nippert Stadium.

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A very big thanks to Ryan Meyer for capturing these fantastic images of Saturday’s dramatic 4-0 victory over Saint Louis FC. Once you click on a given image, a high resolution version can be found by clicking “View Full Size.”

Also see FC Cincinnati 4 – Saint Louis FC 0: Four Numbers that Mattered. Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s three game home stand. The Tampa Bay Rowdies and rival Louisville City FC are up next.

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FC Cincinnati 4 – Saint Louis FC 0: Four Numbers that Mattered

FC Cincinnati earned an emphatic home victory in front of a record crowd at Nippert Stadium. Djiby Fall ran away with man-of-the-matches honors.

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Photo Courtesy of Ryan Meyer Photography

FC Cincinnati earned an emphatic home victory at Nippert Stadium on Saturday evening when they defeated first place Saint Louis FC by a score of 4-0. Djiby Fall scored all the goals for the Orange and Blue in a dramatic debut performance.

The Senegalese striker’s first half brace laid the foundation for the victory. After a promising start by the Alan Koch’s side, Saint Louis FC grew into the match. They out-possessed FC Cincinnati in the first half and threatened goal, but FC Cincinnati found the net twice and that’s the statistic that mattered.

Here’s a sample of one of Djiby’s two first half finishes:

Djiby picked up where he left off in the second half, scoring three minutes after the whistle blew to start the period. He then finished a four-pack of goals with a towering header in the 62nd minute, assisted by Kenney Walker.

In support of Djiby’s man-of-the-match performance, the defense turned in a clean sheet and closed the second half with confidence, allowing only 2 total shots in that period.

Four Numbers That Mattered

3 – A fearsome threesome of Djiby Fall, Kadeem Dacres, and Victor Mansaray featured at the front of a new look 4-3-3 formation for FC Cincinnati. Head coach Alan Koch departed from the 4-2-3-1 that featured in the first three matches to make use of the width that a renovated Nippert stadium provided.

105 – Saint Louis FC had 105 more passes than FC Cincinnati in the first half, underlining their dominance in possession. While possession is one of the more widely referenced statistics in soccer, and often reflects who’s controlling the game, it can at times be misleading. Saint Louis FC didn’t produce a single shot on target in the first half, or the second half for that matter.

4 – Here’s the obvious one….four goals in a single mach by one player. No FC Cincinnati player had ever scored a hat-trick before tonight’s match. Djiby grabbed that distinction and added one more goal for good measure. I think it’s safe to say that no one’s going to touch that record for a while, except maybe Djiby. To add to this, his hat trick was a perfect hat trick. He scored two with his head (35′, 62′), one with his left (45’+2′) and one with his right (48′).

23,144 – FC Cincinnati set a new USL record for the largest attendance at a home opener with 23,144 fans. This was the third largest regular season attendance for the Orange and Blue in their short, but well attended history. It’s worth noting also that they topped this number by quite a lot in their first playoff game last year (and at the Crystal Palace friendly).

Match Photos: FC Cincinnati vs Saint Louis FC

FC Cincinnati jumps from 13th place all the way to 6th place with the victory, just two places behind Wednesday’s opponent, the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Louisville City FC takes over at the top of the USL’s Eastern conference, after defeating that same Rowdies side by a 2-1 scoreline tonight.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more analysis and color commentary on what should prove to be an epic week of soccer in the Queen City.

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FC Cincinnati vs Saint Louis FC: Home Opener and Three Game Gauntlet

FC Cincinnati opens a 3 game home stand against 1st place Saint Louis FC. Phillip Grooms joins us to discuss MLS expansion, Preki, and STLFC’s early success.

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FC Cincinnati finally returns home to a newly renovated Nippert Stadium on Saturday for their 2017 home opener against Saint Louis FC. A three game season-starting road trip was unkind to the Orange and Blue. It yielded just three points and left the team with a few notable injuries (Berry, Fordyce, Hoyte). FC Cincinnati currently sits 13th in the Eastern Conference, with just two teams below them. They were most recently defeated 2-0 by Bethlehem Steel FC, where an early injury and a red card put Koch’s men behind the eight ball.

Saint Louis FC currently sits on top of the Eastern Conference on 10 points, having played one more game than FC Cincinnati. Orange and Blue Press caught up with Phillip Grooms of the STL Soccer Report to talk about Saint Louis FC’s early season success, new head coach Preki, and their troubled MLS expansion bid.

Q&A with Phillip Grooms

Saint Louis FC opened the season with a series of good results and sits on top of the East. What have they done well so far that has led to their early success?

“The biggest calming improvement from this team in preseason to the regular season is goal scoring. It’s easy to see how Preki’s system pays off all around the pitch. One-v-one battles typically go in St. Louis’ favor. Effort and fitness make fan’s hearts swell with joy, but early on, the goals weren’t coming and they didn’t look to be in our near future. Well, in our first game at home something clicked. Strangely it’s clicked with five or six different forwards in use. It looks as if the “Preki System” is in play and having its effect.”

Former US International and MLS star Preki is now the head coach. What is one key thing that Preki does differently than Dale Schilly / Tim Leonard that is positively impacting the team.

“Tim Leonard, who was the assistant for Schilly and the interim after Schilly, is still the assistant for Preki. That said, this list could be a mile long, but in an interview with Tim Leonard in preseason he told me that, surprisingly, the passionate, on-field coach that is Preki has a very calming presence among his players. Tim told me that it was clear that previous coach, Dale Schilly, was under a lot of pressure. That pressure seeped into the locker room and, as many saw, onto the pitch. Preki brings personal talent and experience to the team that just lets the players trust him and relax. He proved his calmness when I sat down with him in preseason. I asked about the goal scoring woes early on. He merely shrugged it off and said the goals will come in time. Well, they have.”

In the wake of the recent failed MLS stadium vote, how is the Saint Louis soccer community responding and is there still a chance to get a stadium built to support the January MLS application?

“I’m going to say no–pretty confidently. I’ll also use these pictures to illustrate my point. Current Mayor, Francis Slay, tweeted the day after the failed vote that he didn’t think MLS was done in St. Louis.

Many saw this and thought the county would decide to help after all, or that a new investor would come in and save the day. Well, then we saw the following tweet:

No ideas?? Ok, my hope just went out the window with the bathwater and is laying on the ground next to the Rams Stadium. The ownership that made the MLS bid in St. Louis said, over and over again, that there was no plan B. I’m finding that it wasn’t a bluff. I’ve heard nothing.”

Saint Louis FC revamped its roster and brought in A LOT of new players during the offseason. Who’s having the biggest impact? Are you surprised they are playing so well out of the gate?

“I think the biggest impact players in this system are the cogs of the machine: the two central midfielders. They are Ivan Mirkovic and Dragan Stojkov. These two are professional frustrators. One is constantly hitting the guy with the ball, while the other cuts off passes. If a pass gets off, they switch it up and on and on we go. They get in pushes. They nip at ankles. They get lots of yellow cards. Best yet, they get turnovers high up the pitch. These turnovers have been the most consistent form of goal scoring for St. Louis, but even if we do get goals from run of play, these guys often have a hand in that too. So, if you’re watching St. Louis, start with those two (Ivan is injured, so watch for Tyler David to play the same role, but more…politely), and watch the talent revolve around them. 

As far as the strong start (minus the Louisville opener)–yes. I’m shocked. Two weeks before the season started, the front office went on a campaign telling everyone that Preki’s teams typically get off to a slow start but finish strong. We were still having the goal scoring problems, and I think they wanted to get out ahead of the losses they saw on the horizon. Well, St. Louis eked out two last minute wins at home, scoring three goals per game in the process I am indeed surprised. If this is the slow start we were promised, the USL could be in some trouble. That said, the team is about to go on a three game in a week run–two of those away. We’ll see how the team deals with the travel, recovery, and the growing list of injuries.” NOTE: This interview was before Wednesday’s 2-1 Saint Louis FC victory over Pittsburgh.

Three Game Gauntlet

FC Cincinnati topped a struggling Saint Louis FC side twice last season, both times by a 2-1 scoreline. The team they will face on Saturday looks very different however. They have a new coach, a revamped roster, and will come into the match full of confidence. Saint Louis FC did play midweek however, so FC Cincinnati should have an advantage in terms of freshness.

Saturday’s match against Saint Louis FC is the first of a three game gauntlet where FC Cincinnati will face the best of the USL’s Eastern Conference. Koch’s men will square off with the Tampa Bay Rowdies next on Wednesday. Like Saint Louis FC, the second place Florida outfit is competing with Cincinnati for an MLS expansion bid. They are also a NASL defector who eliminated FC Cincinnati from the US Open Cup last season. Finally, the Orange and Blue play Louisville City FC in the first installment of the Dirty River Derby next Saturday. Louisville currently sits third in the USL’s Eastern Conference.

It’s going to be an epic week of soccer in the Queen City, and a chance for FC Cincinnati to put themselves right back in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference. Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of the 2017 home opener.

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FC Cincinnati’s Five Must-See Home Matches

FC Cincinnati released the full schedule for its second season on Tuesday. There are five home matches that stand out from the rest and are must-see events.

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FC Cincinnati released its long-awaited 2017 schedule on Tuesday afternoon. The USL calendar was delayed by several weeks waiting for US Soccer to make a decision on division two sanctioning. The USL received division two status and now, less than two months before the season begins, the full schedule is available.

FC Cincinnati begins the season with a challenging three game road trip. They face the Charleston Battery, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, and Bethlehem Steel on three consecutive weekends starting on March 25th. Orange and Blue Press highly recommends taking in these games with the team’s most passionate supporters at Rhinehaus OTR, Molly Malone’s Covington, or one of FC Cincinnati’s pub partners.

All of the home matches at Nippert Stadium are, of course, worth your while. But the five matches listed below are must-see events. Mark your calendars, change your plans, take a day off, get a dog-sitter, cancel your vacation. Do what you have to do to support the Orange and Blue.

April 15th – Saint Louis FC (Home Opener) –  Get your taxes done early so you can see FC Cincinnati return to Nippert after a six month respite. The release of the pent-up Bailey energy on April 15th will be something to behold. Saint Louis FC is a new member of the Eastern conference, migrating from the USL’s West to balance the two conferences. FC Cincinnati played Saint Louis twice and beat them twice in 2016. A revamped Saint Louis FC, led by former US international Preki, will be looking for revenge. This early season game will also carry the weight of an MLS expansion rivalry.

April 22nd – Louisville City FC – The home leg of Dirty River Derby (a.k.a. River Cities Cup) is the #1 match of the season. It’s that simple. Take into account that FC Cincinnati has signed away not one but two LCFC players, including their captain. This match is going to be nasty and will feature a loud traveling contingent from Louisville. FC Cincinnati travels to Louisville for the second and third legs of this three games series. Mark July 15th and August 12th as travel dates on your calendar.

June 17th – Charleston Battery  – If FC Cincinnati has a bogey team this early in its existence, it’s the Charleston Battery. They’re 0-2-1 against the Battery, including the home playoff loss that ended FC Cincinnati’s inaugural season. This will be a revenge match against the old guard of a very new-look USL. They came into our house twice last year and took four points. That can’t happen in 2017.

August 23rd – Ottawa Fury – Two teams, the Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Ottawa Fury, defected from the troubled NASL to the USL’s Eastern Conference this offseason. Some may argue that Tampa is the more interesting matchup, considering our history and the competition over MLS expansion. However, the Tampa game is on a Wednesday and is sandwiched between two other must-see games. So Ottawa may be the game you earmark if you can only check out one of the two former NASL clubs this season.

September 16th – New York Red Bulls II  – The Baby Bulls were the class of the league last season, winning both the regular season and the USL Cup. FC Cincinnati lost to them twice last year, and both games were haunted by questionable refereeing decisions. The Orange and Blue will try to prove that they are the best of the East in the last home game of the regular season. Top playoff seeding will likely be on the line.

Honorable mention: September 2nd – Pittsburgh Riverhounds: What can you say, it’s Pittsburgh. The Riverhounds struggled in 2016 and all three matches the Orange and Blue played against them were, shall we say, tepid. It is Pittsburgh though. If you have Bengals baggage, this is the day to deal with it.

The full 2017 FC Cincinnati schedule can be found here. Times for all matches will be announced at a later date.

What do you think?  Which games are you most looking forward to seeing? Leave a comment below.

If you don’t have season tickets already, right now would be a stellar time to lock some up. Over 9,000 season tickets have been sold already.

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FC Cincinnati Rights the Ship, Targets Home Playoff Games

A deeper look at FC Cincinnati’s victory over Saint Louis FC and what it means for their home playoff prospects.

FC Cincinnati earned a hard fought but well deserved victory over Saint Louis FC at Nippert Stadium on Monday afternoon. For play-by-play details of the games’ events, see the articles featured in our news post from Monday. This article intends to delve deeper into the cookie jar and see what treats are hidden underneath the top layer.

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Four Numbers 

The following four numbers help to tell the tale of how this match unfolded.

89 – The temperature in degrees Fahrenheit at kickoff. After a week of lovely weather in the true Queen City (as evidenced by the Queen City Cup), Monday’s match against Saint Louis FC was played under scorching conditions at Nippert Stadium. The official air temperature may have been 89 degrees but it was much hotter on Nippert’s field turf surface. While on the field taking match photos, my iPhone literally stopped working because it was too hotFans on the sunny East side of the stadium were leaving their seats during the match and retreating into the upper shade to find respite from the swelter. FC Cincinnati continues to pack the house this season despite a notable lack of support from Mother Nature. 17,145 showed up. Kudos Cincinnati.

2 – The number of key starters that Saint Louis FC was missing due to international call-ups. Leading goalscorer Irvin Herrera and starting goalkeeper Ryan Thompson were both absent from this match, representing El Salvador and Jamaica respectively. This was a quality win for FC Cincinnati but it’s important to understand the diminished strength of the opponent coming into the match.

11 – The jersey number of Álvaro Anton Ripoll, who had an impactful performance in Monday’s victory. Ripoll has started the last 2 matches in the place of injured Omar Cummings, playing on the right side of FC Cincinnati’s front three. The 22 year old native of Madrid, Spain was involved in everything the Orange and Blue did offensively and played with a passion that will soon make him a fan favorite.

9 – STAT CORRECTED: The average number of shots taken by FC Cincinnati in their 3 games against the Charlotte Independence, NY Red Bulls II, and Rochester Rhinos. FC Cincinnati had 16 total shots in Monday’s game against Saint Louis FC, emphasizing their improved offensive productivity. Of those 16, only 4 shots were on goal though (including the 2 actual goals). The offensive effort was much better overall, but FC Cincinnati will need to be more ruthless in front of goal come playoff time.

Quotable [Press Conference]

John Harkes:

“We created so many chances today. In the first half that was some of the best soccer I’ve seen all year.”

“The fan base actually pushed us on today. It’s unlike anything else in the league. It doesn’t matter about the quantity but about the quality of the fans. It drives the guys. It is fantastic. It really is.”

Ugo Okoli:

“To be honest after the first half that I had, I knew I was gonna get one.” (You’ve got to love that striker’s confidence)

Álvaro Ripoll:

“It felt amazing to play in front of this crowd. I was worried about my fitness, but I could have played 3 games in front of this crowd.”  (I highly recommend that you watch Ripoll in the press conference, the genuine excitement in his eyes to be starting and performing comes through in an amazing way).

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FC Cincinnati has reclaimed their 3rd place position in the Eastern Conference after this result. With four games left in the season, earning the right to play at Nippert in the postseason must be the focus for the Orange and Blue.

The bad news is that last week’s poor results put a big dent in FCC’s chances of catching the top two. Overtaking second place Louisville City FC is possible, but it will take a perfect season’s end and some help.

The good news is that all of the remaining opponents are in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference standings, so FCC has a good opportunity to maximize points. They will have to contend with pressure from the chasing pack though. There are four teams just behind FC Cincinnati poised to overtake them if they slip up. Negative results in the final stanza of the season could leave the Orange and Blue seeded fifth through eighth, which would mean no home playoff game.

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