USL History

Match Preview: FCC vs. Toronto FC II


FC Cincinnati (19-3-6, 63 pts.) returns to Nippert Stadium for a matchup with Toronto FC II (3-20-4, 13 pts.) on Sunday. The match is set for 4:30 p.m. and will be televised live on CW Cincinnati, available on the radio live on ESPN 1530 AM and also streamed live on ESPN+.

The Orange and Blue extended their unbeaten streak to 17 matches by defeating Louisville City FC, 1-0, on Tuesday evening. FC Cincinnati has posted a 13-0-4 record since June 2, including a six-game winning streak, which is the longest in club history. Unlike FC Cincinnati’s most recent match – a top of the table clash with Louisville City FC – FCC will be tasked with playing a team that has already been eliminated from USL Cup Playoffs contention.

Needless to say, Cincinnati is very aware of the challenges that a team like TFC II can bring to the pitch. Midfielder Michael Lahoud notes that playing against teams with nothing to lose often presents a difficult task.

“I think it would be naïve for us to have a respite and look at the next remainder of the season and say ‘Ah, we’ve done it,’ because this next stretch of games is the hardest,” Lahoud said, “It’s easy to get up for Louisville, it’s easy to get up for Pittsburgh, but it’s the teams that have absolutely nothing to lose – Penn, Richmond, Toronto – those are the real character defining games.”

While there is a gap of 50 points between the two sides, TFC II comes into Sunday’s match having recorded 13 of their 34 goals in their previous five matches. After starting the year 0-12-0 in away matches, Toronto is 1-0-1 in their last two road contests, which include a 4-1 win at Louisville City FC on Aug. 28 and a 3-3 draw at New York Red Bulls II on Sept. 13.

FC Cincinnati enters this weekend an unbeaten 4-0-1 against Toronto FC II across three USL seasons. Toronto claimed its first point against the Orange and Blue on June 27, when the home side battled back from a 3-1 deficit, scoring two unanswered goals to secure a point. Cincinnati’s Nazmi Albadawi, Emmanuel Ledesma, and Emery Welshman each recorded a goal and an assist in the Orange and Blue’s first matchup with TFC II at Lamport Stadium.

Toronto FC II could feature a number of recent MLS SuperDraft first round selections including: Jon Bakero (fifth overall, 2018 MLS SuperDraft), Tim Kübel (28th overall, 2018 MLS SuperDraft), and Tsubasa Endoh (ninth overall, 2016 MLS SuperDraft). In addition, Toronto also boasts TFC Academy alums in Jordan Hamilton, who has made 38 MLS appearances since 2014, and Ayo Akinola, who has featured in various levels of the U.S. Youth National Team.


FC Cincinnati’s Michael Lahoud and Pa Konate will be available for selection this week after returning from international duty with their respective national teams. Lahoud and Sierra Leone played and fell to Ethiopia, 1-0, on Sunday, Sept. 9, at Hawassa International Stadium in Awassa, Ethiopia. Konate and Guinea hosted and defeated the Central African Republic, 1-0, on Sept. 9 in Conakry, Guinea. Neither player made an appearance.

FC Cincinnati head coach Alan Koch noted on Tuesday that it was nice to have the pair back in training this week.

“Yeah, it was awesome [to see them back with the team],” Koch said, “Obviously, having grown up in Africa and having travelled back and forth between Africa and North America, I know it’s a long, long way … We went light with them today, and then hopefully they’ll be good to go and join the group completely [for the remainder of the week].”

In addition to Konate and Lahoud, Matt Bahner also returned to full training earlier this week. The Cincinnati native has been sidelined for nearly a month after suffering an ankle injury in training. Bahner has made seven appearances, including six starts for the Orange and Blue this season.