While last week's lead up to and actual playing of our international friendly against Crystal Palace was obviously amazing for everyone involved, this week, it's back to business for FC Cincinnati.
And it's back to business in a very, very big way.
Over the next 11 days, FCC will play three enormous matches against the other three teams in the top four of the Eastern Conference. All three of those matches come at home, which could be a huge boost ahead of what might be a season defining stretch.
Up first tomorrow, second-placed New York Red Bulls come to town for a 7pm kickoff. And you can get all the details on what to expect below in our full match preview.
WHEN IS IT HAPPENING:
The last of the five MLS reserve sides in the Eastern conference to face FCC, this weekend's opponents are the B-team for the New York Red Bulls. Founded in 2015, the club is following up a promising inaugural season -- where they finished in 4th place with a 12-10-6 record and advanced to the conference semifinals in the postseason -- with a very strong second campaign. And while they are a "MLS B" side and are jokingly referred to as the "Baby Bulls", it would be foolish to take this team lightly. They're very, very good.
FCC: Obviously, last time out's 2-0 loss to Premier League side Crystal Palace was a bit of an outlier for the Orange & Blue -- though the team did show well for themselves. Focusing on league play, FCC are coming off a 2-1 win away at Saint Louis FC nearly 10 days ago. That win saw the team get back to winning ways after having an 11-match unbeaten run snapped in the previous game with a Wednesday night 1-2 loss in Rochester. Entering this Wednesday's tilt against the Baby Bulls, third-placed FCC trail the Red Bulls in the standings by just four points.
New York: Currently one of the hottest sides in all of USL, the NYRBII are riding their own 11-match unbeaten streak into Wednesday's match. That streak sees them sitting second in the Eastern table, just four points behind Louisville with a match in hand. Stretching back to a May 7th win over Pittsburgh, they've gone 8-0-3 and have battered their opponents by outscoring them 20-7 during the run. Compounding that, New York also haven't lost yet this season on the road with a record of 7-0-1.
For the last time during the 2016 USL regular season, FCC will be facing a foe for the first time. Though the Orange & Blue will want to make sure they take all three points in tomorrow's encounter before heading to Harrison, New Jersey, for the return leg at the end of August.
WHO TO WATCH:
FCC: After making his first start since May and opening the scoring in the match against St. Louis, Jamaican forward Omar Cummings is definitely a man to watch on Wednesday night. The veteran attacker's pace and spacial awareness were key not only in the win in the league, but also helped him to match up well against Premier League defenders at the weekend. Too, he also looks to be a great foil for Sean Okoli, helping to share some of the attacking burden while also providing another outlet for the team's leading scorer to work with. But the question becomes, will Harkes stick with the 4-4-2 we've normally seem him deployed in?
New York: Though stocked full of promising talent mostly developed from their own academy, the man most people turn their attention to when considering the Baby Bull's roster is forward Brandon Allen (#21). A four year starter at Georgetown where he amassed 50 goals and 17 assists, the New Jersey native has picked up his professional game right where he left off in college with 8 goals and 2 assists in appearances. But don't turn your tack on fellow forwards Junior Flemmings (#77 - 5 goals and 3 assists) and Derrick Etienne (#7 - 2 goals and 4 assists), who provide New York a very potent three-headed attack.
Another warm and dry Cincinnati summer night awaits visitors to Nippert Stadium on Saturday, with the temperature at kickoff projected to be 86° F at the time of writing. A negligible chance of rain awaits, though humidity around 51% will mean you'll want to dress to keep cool.
HOW TO WATCH:
This weekend’s match will be broadcast live on the CW Cincinnati (WKRC). Most local providers’ station information can be found below
HOW TO LISTEN: