First-place FC Cincinnati (21-3-6, 69 pts.) will conclude its two-match road trip on Wednesday with an opportunity to claim a trophy. The Orange and Blue will take on the Richmond Kickers (6-20-4, 22 pts.) at City Stadium. The game is set for 7 p.m. and will be televised live on CW Cincinnati and also streamed live on ESPN3. With a win, Cincinnati can clinch its first-ever USL Regular Season Championship.
FC Cincinnati comes into Wednesday’s match having secured the Eastern Conference’s top seed in the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs. While the FC Cincinnati players took some time to appreciate the achievement, midfielder Corben Bone notes that there is still more to accomplish on Wednesday.
“It was great to win at Penn and get that achievement, but that’s in the past now and we have another bigger one coming up,” Bone said, “You refocus and this game means just as much and more, so it’s easy for us to kind of focus in and go after that goal as well.”
Cincinnati extended the club’s unbeaten run to 19 matches – passing Orlando City SC’s 2014 mark for the second-longest unbeaten streak in USL history – by defeating Penn FC, 2-1, on Saturday. The Orange and Blue have gone 15-0-4 since the beginning of June, and have won each of their last eight contests – one win shy of the all-time mark set by Real Monarchs SLC in 2017.
The Richmond Kickers enter Wednesday’s contest having dropped their most recent match, a 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium on Sept. 22. Richmond is officially eliminated from qualifying for the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs.
The two sides played at Nippert Stadium on June 16, when FCC claimed a 4-0 victory over the visitors. Emmanuel Ledesma recorded a brace, Nazmi Albadawi and Danni König added goals and Evan Newton made four saves in a shutout performance. While FC Cincinnati won in impressive fashion in the first meeting, head coach Alan Koch notes that it’s always tough to get a result on the road.
“It’s going to be a huge challenge. Playing Richmond or playing anybody in this league is a huge challenge, and particularly playing them away,” Koch said, “There’s no pressure on them whatsoever. They’re going to go out and showcase themselves, but at the same time, we’re going to do the exact same thing.”
FC Cincinnati enters Wednesday’s match an unbeaten 2-0-3 against the Richmond Kickers across three USL seasons. The two sides have played to a 1-1 draw in each of the two matches held at City Stadium.
FCC GOAL-SCORERS CLOSING IN ON A USL FIRST
Through 30 matches of the USL regular-season, the Orange and Blue have scored 62 goals, tied for second-most among all USL teams. Furthermore, FCC has scored 27 goals through 14 away matches, averaging nearly two goals per game in road contests.
While Ledesma (14) and König (10) have reached double-digit goal totals for Cincinnati, both Albadawi (9) and Bone (9) are just one goal away from giving FCC its first season with three double-digit goal-scorers. To put that in perspective, only two teams in USL history have had three double-digit goal-scorers in a single-season.
LA Galaxy II currently has three double-digit goal-scorers in Efrain Álvarez (12), Frank López (11), and Ethan Zubak (11). New York Red Bulls II achieved the feat in 2017, when Stefano Bonomo (13), Florian Valot (10), and Junior Flemmings (10) tallied at least 10 goals. No team has ever had four double-digit goal-scorers in a single-season in USL history.
Bone has scored for the Orange and Blue in six of the club’s last seven matches and has tallied the game-winner in each of FCC’s last three matches. When it comes to the recent abundance of goals, Bone credits his form to those around him.
“Well, first and foremost [I attribute my form to] my teammates,” Bone said, “I’ve gotten some pretty good assists lately and they’ve made it easy on me. I would just say confidence – thanks to them and the coaching staff – and just finding myself in good spots and taking chances.”