USL History

Match Preview: FCC at Penn FC


First-place FC Cincinnati (20-3-6, 66 pts.) will return to the road for the first match of a two-match road trip. The Orange and Blue will take on Penn FC (9-12-8, 35 pts.) at FNB Field on Saturday. The game is set for 7 p.m. and will be televised live on WSTR 64 and also streamed live on ESPN+. With a win, Cincinnati can clinch the Eastern Conference’s top seed for the USL Cup Playoffs.

Cincinnati extended the club’s unbeaten run to 18 matches – tying Orlando City SC’s 2014 mark for the second-longest unbeaten streak in USL history – by defeating Toronto FC, 4-3, on Sunday. The Orange and Blue have gone 14-0-4 since the beginning of June, and have won each of their last seven contests – two wins shy of the all-time mark set by Real Monarchs SLC in 2017.

Penn FC comes into the weekend having dropped their most recent match, a 3-0 loss to Louisville City FC at FNB Field on Sept. 19. Penn is currently six points out of a USL Cup Playoffs position with five matches remaining in their regular-season schedule.

The two sides met at Nippert Stadium last month, when Emmanuel Ledesma scored the game-winning goal in the 80th minute to secure a 1-0 victory for Cincinnati. While FC Cincinnati claimed three points in the first matchup, head coach Alan Koch notes that Penn will provide a tough test on the road.

“Penn is a tough, experienced, older team,” Koch said, “When they came here, I don’t think they showcased themselves as what they’re capable of doing. But, I think at home, they’ve shown some very, very good moments so far this season. I think their challenge has been consistency. We want to go there and impose ourselves on them, and try to control as much as the game as we can, because if you allow a team like them to grow in confidence, anything can happen in a game.”

While Penn FC averages just 1.17 goals per game, they have conceded two or fewer goals in 13 of their last 15 matches. FC Cincinnati midfielder Jimmy McLaughlin expects a match similar to the low-scoring affair that took place at Nippert Stadium on Aug. 12.

“This team has guys who have been playing all over the world, all over the country at a high level,” McLaughlin said, “They know how to get results, they know how to fight…They’re going to be a difficult team to play against. I’m sure they’ll be very tight, very compact, and not allow us much space to break them down, but we just have to focus on us and play our game and eventually it will definitely work.”

FC Cincinnati enters this weekend an unbeaten 3-0-2 against Penn FC across three USL seasons. The two sides have played to a 1-1 draw in each of the two matches held at FNB Field.


Jimmy McLaughlin played on loan for Penn FC, when they were known as the Harrisburg City Islanders, in parts of four seasons from 2012-15. With Harrisburg, McLaughlin made 78 appearances and recorded 14 goals in 4,302 minutes of USL regular-season play. He also made an appearance for the City Islanders in the third round of the 2014 U.S. Open Cup, where he played all 90 minutes and tallied two goals in their 4-2 win over the Baltimore Bohemians.

The Malvern, Pa. native always looks forward to the opportunity to play against his former team.

“It’s always good, it’s always special for me,” McLaughlin said of Saturday’s match, “My family lives about an hour and a half away from there, so I get to see a big group of family and I got a lot of friends, so it’s always a special occasion for me. I obviously played on loan at the club for a good bit— even though they kind of rebranded and everything—I had a really good time there and a really good experience. So yeah, it’s a special place for me to go back to play and an opportunity that I always enjoy.”

In FC Cincinnati’s most recent trip to FNB Field, McLaughlin equalized for the Orange and Blue in the sixth-minute of second-half stoppage time to secure a road point for FCC. McLaughlin has featured in all five matches that FC Cincinnati has played against Penn FC and has recorded a club-high three goals in those matches.