FC Cincinnati (23-3-7, 76 pts.) will be on the road on Saturday for its final USL regular-season match. The Orange and Blue will travel to First Tennessee Park to take on Nashville SC (12-9-12, 48 pts.) for the third time this year. The game is set for 8:30 p.m. ET and will be televised on WSTR 64 and also streamed live on ESPN+.
FC Cincinnati comes into Saturday’s match following a scoreless draw against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Saturday, Oct. 6. The draw extended FC Cincinnati’s unbeaten streak to 22 matches (17-0-5), however, it ended the team’s 10-match winning streak. Should Cincinnati win or draw against Nashville, it would set the USL record for most consecutive matches unbeaten in a single-season, surpassing the mark set by the Richmond Kickers in 2013.
The Orange and Blue will face a Nashville side that could potentially need a result to ensure a berth in the USL Cup Playoffs. Nashville is one of four teams fighting for the final two playoff spots in the USL’s Eastern Conference on the final weekend of regular-season play. With FC Cincinnati having played Nashville twice this season, Head Coach Alan Koch expects Saturday’s match to be comparable to the first two meetings.
“We played them twice and we played against a good team in both games, home and away, and they were both big challenges,” Koch said. “Saturday will be a big challenge. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves on Saturday, and I don’t know by the time Saturday comes how much pressure will be on them, I would anticipate quite a bit. They’ll have to embrace their pressure, but we will embrace the pressure too.”
Nashville SC enters Saturday’s match following a 2-2 draw against Toronto FC II on Tuesday, Sept. 29. The home side is currently in seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Cincinnati and Nashville have already met twice in USL matches this season. The two sides played to a scoreless draw at Nissan Stadium in the first meeting on July 7, and then played to a 1-1 draw at Nippert Stadium in the second match on Aug. 4.
RYAN NEARING RETURN FROM INJURY
Midfielder Richie Ryan has missed each of FC Cincinnati’s last 17 games after suffering a lower leg injury at Toronto FC II on June 27. Ryan, however, is closing in on receiving his first minutes in over three months. After the midfielder fully participated at training this week, Koch believes it's a possibility that Ryan could see minutes this weekend.
“I anticipate Richie is going to get minutes this weekend,” Koch said. “He got through his first full training session [on Wednesday], hopefully he’ll get through a full session [on Thursday]. We’ll have to assess exactly how many minutes we feel he’s comfortable playing, but I would like to get him back in this weekend at some stage, if not start, come off the bench.”
The veteran midfielder proved to be a key performer for the Orange and Blue over the course of his 14 appearances this season. For Ryan, dealing with injuries earlier in his career helped him to stay mentally strong through the recovery process.
“I think early in my career, I experienced some bad injuries, so I think that’s probably helped me to mentally deal with the injuries later in my career,” Ryan said. “It’s been a big help, but now I’m ready to get back kicking a ball and get back involved.”
BONE ON THE CUSP OF 100TH APPEARANCE
Midfielder Corben Bone is just one appearance shy of reaching 100 appearances across all competitions for FC Cincinnati. In his three seasons, Bone has made 89 USL regular-season appearances, two USL Cup Playoffs appearances and eight U.S. Open Cup appearances for FCC.
Should Bone make an appearance in Saturday’s match, he will become the second player in club history to achieve the feat, after Jimmy McLaughlin became the first player to reach 100 appearances for the Orange and Blue across all competitions against Indy Eleven on Sept. 29. Now that the milestone is within grasp, Bone reflected on what making 100 appearances would mean to him.
“I think it’s amazing,” Bone said of the upcoming accomplishment. “To look back at the years so far, I’m appreciative of everyone. I can’t say that I remember everyone, but I know that it has kind of shaped me as a player and as a person. So, to come up on that is just – I’m really appreciative of the club to give me the opportunity.”
FCC will enter the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs as the tournament’s number one overall seed as the regular-season champion. The Orange and Blue will begin play when they host the Eastern Conference’s to-be-determined number eight seed at Nippert Stadium at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20. Tickets purchased online from 9 a.m. on Friday Oct. 12 through midnight on Sunday, Oct. 14 will contain no additional ticket fee and are on sale now.
For up-to-the-minute information about FC Cincinnati, visit the team’s official website at fccincinnati.com, or follow the team on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @FCCincinnati. For more information about FC Cincinnati tickets, call 513-977-KICK (5425) or visit fccincinnati.com/tickets.