The regular season is now over, but our 2017 schedule is not yet done! For the second straight season, second-year FC Cincinnati has qualified for the USL Playoffs. And this weekend, our post-season journey will begin with the team’s fifth trip to Florida this year.
A win in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals this weekend would not only see us advance to the Conference Semifinals next weekend – a match that could also potentially be at home – but also claim the club’s first ever post-season victory, too.
Read on below to see what’s in store in our biggest match of the year in our full match preview.
Entering the playoffs as a #6 seed, FCC will be heading to St. Petersburg, Florida, to face #3-seeded Tampa Bay Rowdies.
FCC: After ending the USL regular season on a dramatic high with a come-from-behind 4-3 win at Toronto FC II, the Orange & Blue will approach post-season play in one of their best runs of form of the entire campaign. Koch’s men lost just once in their last eight matches, a run that dates back to late August. The improved results lifted the team to a sixth-place finish in the Eastern Conference and a final regular-season record of 12-10-10.
TBR: In just their first year in the USL, the Rowdies put on an impressive show. Finishing the year third in the East, the St. Petersburg-based outfit posted a 14-7-11 record and a healthy +15 goal difference. They’ve been even more impressive at home, finishing with just one loss all season at Al Lang Stadium and posting the best home record in the conference. Oh, and they topped all that by ending their campaign on seven matches unbeaten.
"We look forward to hitting the road again to play against a very good and experienced Tampa Bay team. They have proven to be very good at home, but we have had success in big games on the road and look forward to putting in a good shift on Saturday night. The beauty of single elimination games is that anything can happen in the 90th, 120th minutes or penalty kicks. We look forward to riding this wave as long as we can."
- Head Coach Alan Koch
FCC: The entire team showed incredible fight last weekend in Canada, with some standout performances to boot. Kenney Walker’s return to action was quite productive, with the midfielder chipping in a goal and assist, in addition to setting up a third. Danish striker Danni König also tallied his 11th goal of the campaign, which temporarily tied him for the team lead until Djiby added his 12th of the year just fifteen minutes later. Add in a big game winner from defender Justin Hoyte, and the Orange & Blue were happy to see production from every portion of the pitch last weekend – a.k.a. the perfect way to build some confidence ahead of a big playoff match.
TBR: You can’t boast the season that Tampa Bay has had without having some match winners in your team, and match winners they do indeed have. Leading the way for the Rowdies is their long-time Bulgarian striker, Georgi Hristov, who has tallied 13 goals and 4 assists in 2017 to lead the team in scoring during the regular season. But behind him is an army of influential players, including English forward Martin Paterson (9 goals), former England star Joe Cole (7 goals, 5 assists) and German international Marcel Schäfer (5 goals, 11 assists) to name a few.
Saturday’s quarterfinal match-up will be our fourth all-time meeting with the Rowdies and third this season. And to this point, the best result we’ve managed against them was the 1-1 draw at Nippert Stadium back in April. Both previous trips to St. Petersburg ended in losses: the first coming in a 2-1 Open Cup defeat in 2016, the second a 0-2 result that came in regular season play in July. That said, we’ve made a habit of breaking unlucky streaks against difficult opponents this season; Saturday seems like the perfect time to continue that trend.
While things have certainly cooled off here in Ohio of late, it’s practically still summer in Florida. Tomorrow night in St. Petersburg we’ll be treated to summer-like temperatures, with it expected to be around 82° F at kickoff under mostly clear skies. Things won’t cool off much before the final whistle either, though the forecast is currently calling for it to be dry all evening – something we’re not exactly used to on our travels to Florida this year!
There are two excellent ways to take in our playoff quarterfinal match-up on Saturday evening. Tampa Bay versus Cincinnati will be shown live on local television on Star 64 (WSTR) – and will be manned by your favorite home broadcast crew of Tom Gelehrter, Kevin McCloskey and Lindsay Patterson – with station info on most providers available below.
Over the Air: Channel 12.2
Cincinnati Bell Fioptics: Channel 17 (SD) or 517 (HD)
Spectrum/TWC (OH): Channel 20/13 (SD) or 989 (HD)
Spectrum/TWC (KY): Channel 20 (SD) or 989 (HD)
DirecTV: Channel 25
DISH: Not Available
Not in the local viewing area? No problem! Every match in the USL is available to stream as well, and this match is available for free on YouTube.
FCC away matches aren’t being aired on local radio in 2017.