This week we find our heroes close to home for the final leg of the Dirty River Derby. After winning at Nippert Stadium 2-3 in the opening game, LCFC drew in the second leg in a rather poor display 0-0. Now the boys will take a 3-2 aggregate lead back to Nippert. You can bet this will be a hard fought game between two cities that already have strong passions for their sports teams.
Keys to the Game:
FCC is coming off a victory against STLFC and a loss in a friendly against Crystal Palace. Cincinnati finds themselves in 3rd with 34 points behind NYRB2 (38 points) and LCFC (42 Points).
The first key to the game is going to be to continue to play solid defense. We saw how well their defense can back up their midfield and keeper in our last game against them. Remember, Louisville out shot them by almost double, controlled the game, and they still held the home team goalless. The Cincy defense has allowed 16 goals in 17 games or 0.94 per game, not bad at all. Their defense knows when to hit the ground (or slide) to block a shot. They also have no red cards and 22 yellow cards, so they play tough but aren’t a Nigel De Jong (if you don’t know who that is just watch a highlight video it’s like watching rugby).
The second key will be to play suberb offense. Cincinnati have moments of brilliance, but never been a super consistent team offensively. They have the talent to score like LCFC but not the same level of finishing ability. Raw talent is useless until its sculpted into skills. They have had 103 shots on goal but just 25 have found the net. They also need to rely on more than one player, i.e. Sean Okoli, to score.
Also, Cincinnati keeper Mitch Hildebrandt apparently loves number 4 Harrison Delbridge. If you watch the game against LCFC, it seemed like 95% of the keeper’s passes went his way. This is something that will have to change, as it is very predictable if a fan can pick up on it in 5 mins of the game.
Frankly, very little needs to change for LouCity, but there are a few things that will be keys. First, Chandler Hoffman has to continue his run of form which has been pretty consistent all year. The man who attacked FCC and got us the 2-3 away win will need to strike hard, fast, and often if we want another successful game away at Nippert Stadium.
Another key will be to finish the ball. City should have put Cincinnati down in the 2nd game but couldn’t break through their defense. This will need to improve if we want to bring home a trophy. Finishing problems is what has killed great teams in the past and great defense has won games. If LCFC wants to win they will need to do both of these.
One player who needs to be involved every chance he gets is…Actually see if you can guess it before I reveal his name. This young man has some serious talent. He has made me forget who Bryan Burke is (I joke). He has continued to play both ends of the pitch like a man who’s in his prime. Out of all the players who continue to play consistently he is the overwhelming most dependable player I have seen on the pitch.
Can you guess who it is? No, its not Kadeem Dacres, Chandler Hoffman, or even Sean Reynolds. It is Kyle Smith. The kid leads in assists, and plays rock hard defense. Reminds me of the Argentina of the 1990s or the Italians of the 1980s when he plays defense. We will never forget Bryan Burke, but Kyle Smith certainly draws many comparisons to him when you watch him play. He will need to play both ends of the field in order to give LCFC a W.
Prediction: 1-2 for LCFC
This game will be hard fought, but I see LCFC having the edge in overall team quality. FCC is a good team, but LCFC is more well-rounded. FCC plays more defense than offense, while LCFC plays a rather mixed bag of offense and defense. Look for one or 2 goals on either side to be counter attack goals, as both teams have been deadly from both. We already won the Kings Cup, The River Cities Cup sounds like a nice addition to our trophy cabinet. After that we can focus on the USL Regular season title, and then the USL Championship! LCFC!!!