For the second time in just five days, FC Cincinnati will hit the road for a match against Floridian competition – not to mention another midweek Cup match in the Sunshine State looming next week.
Thursday’s night match also marks the official start of the second half our 2017 campaign, and with the hosts also jockeying for playoff positions, it should make for a grand affair. Adding to the hype, the match will be nationally televised.
Make sure you’re up-to-date ahead of the pivotal USL Eastern Conference match up by reading the full match preview below.
The opponent playing host to us on Thursday is none other than the Tampa Bay Rowdies, who are midway through their first campaign in the USL after making the offseason switch over from the NASL.
FCC: Due to our deep run in the Open Cup, the fixtures have really piled up for FC Cincinnati over the last few months – and it’s not going to get any easier. After back-to-back months with six matches, the midweek match on the edge of Tampa Bay will be the second of seven matches in July. But if anything, our form over the proceeding hectic schedule should be comforting. The Orange & Blue have only lost twice in thirteen matches since the start of May in all competitions, going 7-2-4 and posting a stiff 0.77 goals against average. However, our league form is a little less sterling (3-2-4) and we’ve yet to take anything more than a point while on the road.
TBR: After beginning their lives in USL red hot, things have cooled off a bit for the Rowdies over the last month. Winless in the league since May 19th, they’ve gone 0-4-3 – including dropping their last two. Adding insult to injury, they were dumped out of the Open Cup back in the fourth round by former NASL rival Miami FC, our next opponent in the competition. Despite the drop in form, Tampa Bay still find themselves up in fourth place in the East – though an FCC win on Thursday would see us pull level on points with a game in-hand.
"Tampa Bay pose a tough challenge for our group. They are a very experienced squad with international stars. We do, however, have a lot of belief in our group and as the season progresses we continue to improve every week. Continually improving performances have led to improved results and we hope to sustain this march forward in the second half of the season. We look forward to this 90 minute battle in Florida."
- Head Coach Alan Koch
FCC: On Saturday, Senegalese striker Djiby kept up his solid run of goal-scoring form by notching his 8th goal of the USL campaign. That goal – surprisingly not a header – sees him standing tall at third in the league scoring charts. At the opposite end of the pitch, fans of the Orange & Blue will be impatiently waiting to hear whether standout centerback Harrison Delbridge will feature after limping off in the weekend draw against Orlando.
TBR: If there’s one thing you can say about the Rowdies, it’s that they have a hefty amount of attacking prowess within their ranks. Former Chelsea and England star Joe Cole (#26) will garner most of the attention, but it’s fifth-year Bulgarian striker Georgi Hristov (#10) who is once again topping the Tampa goal scoring list with 6 so far this campaign. Goals are in no short supply either around the rest of their squad, either. The aforementioned Cole has four, former MLS speedster Deshorn Brown (#8) has 3, and though normally a string-puller in midfield, former German international Marcel Schäfer (#4) has 2.
This will be third all-time meeting between Cincinnati and Tampa Bay, with the hosts holding a slight series advantage thus far. That advantage comes from the 0-1 loss in our last visit to Al Lang Stadium, last year in the Open Cup third round. Our only other meeting came in our second home match of this season, and it ended a 1-1 draw with Harrison Delbridge’s only goal of the year erasing Marcel Schäfer’s first ever Rowdies goal.
There’s nothing quite like a summer match in Florida, and the later kickoff is likely a result of trying to escape the summer heat expected tomorrow. While the daily high is expected to reach 93° F, it’s supposed to dip off a little to the mid-80’s by kickoff – though the humidity is due to increase throughout. Perhaps unluckily, the relief of a summer Florida shower isn’t currently in the forecast… but don’t be surprised if we get one, either.
Our match at the Rowdies has been selected as the USL Game of the Week, and as such will be broadcast live nationally on ESPNU – our second nationally televised match in as many weeks! Not sure what channel that is on your provider? We’ve done the leg work below:
Over the Air: Not Available
Cincinnati Bell Fioptics: Channel 600 (HD) or 200 (SD)
Spectrum/TWC (OH): Channel 1303 (SD) or 303 (HD)
Spectrum/TWC (KY): 922 (HD) or 514 (SD)
DirecTV: Channel 208
DISH: Channel 141
Don’t have access to a TV? You can still stream the match at www.espn.com/watch or using the WatchESPN app!
Though away matches aren't normally broadcast on the radio, this week's Game of the Week Selection means we will be carried live on SiriusXM FC -- tune to channel 85!