WHO: FC Cincinnati, 2-1-0, 6 points, 5th place Eastern Conference
WHAT: The first game in the poorly named River Cities Cup. We prefer Dirty River Derby, ourselves, and will call it that from now on.
WHEN: Saturday, April 16, 2016, 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: Nippert Stadium, University of Cincinnati, 2700 Bearcat Way, Cincinnati, OH 45221
WATCH: These guys play in a 40,000 seat stadium. It’s not that far away. We’re assuming you bought a ticket. You bought a ticket and are coming to the game, aren’t you? Of course you are! But in case your friend is a bad friend and scheduled their wedding on Saturday, you can watch on your phone from the church pew on YouTube here:
WHO, AGAIN? You know who these guys are. They’re us last year, just this year. New. Fresh. Shiny. Not too bad at soccer. But with some less than subtle differences, like chalk dust and sponsored supporters. FCC started their season with a loss away at Charlotte, then beat Bethlehem Steel convincingly in Lehigh Valley, and sparkled in their home opener at UC’s football stadium in front of nearly 15,000 people in a 2-1 win over Charlotte Independence which included a scissor-kick goal that hit the ESPN SportsCenter Top 10. #AodhanDidItFirst
So let’s break it down a little further. In three games, Cincy’s scored four goals and given up three. They’ve taken 38 shots and given up 31, 21 of those on goal versus 14. Their keeper has made 11 saves and gives up a goal per game on average.
The more interesting question, to me, anyway, is which Louisville City shows up. If it’s the one from last game, awesome! I’ll feel pretty good. If it’s the one from the first two games, I’ll have some concerns. Elsie’s scored five goals and given up three, taken 42 shots and only given up 18 with 17 on goal versus just eight for our opponents. Scotty’s only been forced into seven saves, but has averaged a goal given up a game so far.
Louisville City’s defense has been pretty solid so far this season but the offense took a couple games to figure things out. It helps to have a speed demon like Kadeem on the wing and Paolo DelPiccolo might be a better midfield partner for Quinn because he stays home, freeing Aodhan to roam around.
This will be an interesting tactical matchup for City. Cincinnati loves to press numbers forward when they have the ball and pressure the opposing defense. They play a high-ish line, not unlike NYRB2, but that makes them vulnerable on the counterattack. City likes to keep the ball and boss the middle of the park, but this might be the kind of game where trying to exploit the space behind the Flying Soccer Lions’ back line could lead to some success provided the Royals stay organized on defense.
Truth be told, these may be two of the best teams in the league this season. This is a pretty big game that I’ll crow about from the mountaintops if City wins and downplay if they lose. I hate that.
STATISTICAL COMPARISONS OF DUBIOUS VALIDITY: I mean, we’re three games into the season. There’s not a lot to talk about. City likes to shoot a lot, which is nothing new. Let’s keep that up, I guess.
PROJECTED STARTERS: I’m fairly terrible at this, but let’s try it:
Louisville City (4-2-3-1): Goodwin, Smith, Reynolds, Morad, Son, Quinn, DelPiccolo, Kaye, McCabe, Dacres, Hoffman
FCC (4-3-3): Hildebrandt, McMahon, Delbridge, Berry, Polak, Walker, Bone, Tomaselli, Wiedeman, Okoli, McLaughlin
LEAD PIPE LOCK PREDICTIONS: I don’t know. Cincy’s good. I don’t like to say that. City’s on an offensive uptick, which is good, but they’ve got to find a way to maintain some composure against a team that also likes to try and keep the ball. They’ll have to adapt if their usual gameplan doesn’t work. I want to say this one will be a draw, but I’ll play the optimist and say 1-2 Louisville City.
CITY CITY CITY
CAN’T YOU SEE
SOMETIMES YOUR GOALS JUST HYPNOTIZE ME
WE JUST LOVE YOUR FLASHY WAYS
WE’RE GONNA BEAT THE LIONS SATURDAY