The streaking Riverhounds, winners of three in a row, thanks to its resurgent attack, head to Southwestern Ohio seeking its first win, and first goal ever against FC Cincinnati, after coming up short in four previous meetings last season and early in 2017.
FCC have been a fascinating team to follow all season, not just because of the record crowds that they’ve been getting in only their second year of existence as they make a push to become a Major League Soccer market, but also because they went on a very deep run in the U.S. Open Cup, coming up just short of the final, losing to NY Red Bulls in the semifinal that went to extra time.
In league play, however, FCC has been just another team trying to stay above the playoff line. They’ve been fairly inconsistent, and they’re right in the mix, one point above the Hounds. To show how tight the race is at the moment, and how important this match will be for both teams, I’ll just leave it to this Steel Army tweet:
Only 1 team around us (Ottawa) has a game in hand.
Win on Saturday and the beloved will sit 6th.
— Steel Army (@SteelArmy) September 1, 2017
To get more on this week’s opponent, I had a chance to catch up with Michael Walker, of Orange and Blue Press — who provides a closer look at what we can expect on Saturday and know a little bit more about the Hounds opponents, FC Cincinnati.
Here’s what Michael had to say about Saturday’s match:
Harvey inspired soggy conditions…
On Friday night, the remnants of hurricane Harvey are scheduled to dump two to three inches of rain on the greater Cincinnati area. The forecast is calling for the storm to abate on Saturday afternoon and I do think the game will be played. It could have a wet opening though. The new FIFA approved artificial surface at Nippert should stand up to the deluge, but it’s going to be tested.
A rested team…
After an exhausting US Open Cup run that fell just short of the final, FC Cincinnati got some much needed rest over the past weekend. Ten days separates Saturday’s match from their win over Ottawa last Wednesday. A well-rested lineup with almost no injuries is something Alan Koch hasn’t had the luxury to choose from very often over the past three months.
This is a different FC Cincinnati team than the Riverhounds faced in April. Alan Koch has signed six new players since then, including Danny König, Josu, Sem De Wit, Kevin Schnidler, Kyle Greig, and Garrett Halfhill. Former Arsenal fullback Justin Hoyte also had just joined the squad and if effectively a new player since the last meeting.
Double D’s up top…
Alan Koch changes his lineup a lot, and often customizes his players and formation to the opposition. Recently the team has had a lot of success playing a 3-5-2 with the dangerous combo of Danni König and Djiby Fall up top. I think there’s a good chance we’ll see that on Saturday, but you never really know what Koch will like from a match-up perspective.
A bunch of people…
As of Thursday, over 20K tickets have been sold for this match. People tend to pack in at the end of the season, and Pittsburgh is a rival given proximity and past history with the Reds and Bengals. The storms could scare off some of the fair-weather fans, but it should still be a healthy crowd and a good atmosphere.
A desperate team…
Much like Pittsburgh, FC Cincinnati has to win now to secure their playoff spot. They especially need to collect maximum points at home with five away matches on tap in their last seven games. Expect a team that views this as a must win.