Fresh off of 120-minutes plus penalties in midweek cup action, FC Cincinnati return to USL play with a trip to face North Carolina FC on Saturday, June 9 at 7 p.m.
The Orange & Blue, currently perched atop the Eastern Conference standings, will look to rebound from the disappointment of bowing out of the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. And though they will have to do so on the road, that's a place where FCC have fared fairly well thus far in 2018 with a 5-1-1 record away from Nippert Stadium.
Tickets for the match at Cary, North Carolina's WakeMed Soccer Park are still available, but those not making the trip can watch the match on the CW Cincinnati -- the first broadcast shown there this season -- as well as on the ESPN+ stream.
FC Cincinnati currently find themselves in the midst of a fixture pile-up, playing their third match in the last eight days. But the hosts are facing the same predicament, having also gone 120-minutes and into penalties before falling to D.C. United. The lone difference? NCFC come into tonight's match with an extra day's rest, having played their fourth round Open Cup fixture on Tuesday evening.
As for the history of the match-up, the two clubs have met previously just one time. That game, a 4-1 win to the Orange & Blue, came just 21 days ago at Nippert on the back of a brace from former NCFC player Nazmi Albadawi.
Since that meeting, both sides have experienced mixed results.
FCC have gone 2-1-1 in all competitions -- the draw coming against Minnesota in the Open Cup in open play, despite falling on penalties -- with the last league outing being the come-from-behind win at New York Red Bulls II.
North Carolina FC, meanwhile, have the exact same record across both league and cup play since the meeting on May 19. Their last USL match, however, was a 2-1 loss at home to Bethlehem Steel FC. In fact, NCFC currently sport a losing record in USL play this season at WakeMed at 2-3-0. Those results see them sitting in 12th place in the East, five points outside the playoff positions.
With each side exposed to midweek games that went into extra time, both Alan Koch and NCFC's Colin Clarke will likely need to dip into their squads and rotate.
On the plus side, both of Koch's leading scorers in 2018 didn't participate in the midweek action. Argentine attacker Emmanuel Ledesma (5 goals, 7 assists) and Danish striker Danni König (5 goals) were listed as day-to-day on Wednesday, but each made the travel list for Saturday and are expected to play a role in the night's proceedings.
Also coming in fairly rested are two players set to make homecomings on Saturday's match, midfeidler Nazmi Albadawi and defender Forrest Lasso. Albadawi spent the entirety of his professional career prior to joining FCC with the North Carolina FC/Carolina Railhawks organization. Both he and Lasso hail from nearby Raleigh, so there should be plenty of Orange & Blue in the stands on Saturday night.
On the other side of the ball, North Carolina leading scorer Daniel Ríos (5 goals, 1 assist) didn't start their match Tuesday but did play the final 43 minutes. However, both Dutch forward Marios Lomis (3 goals, 2 assists) and string-puller Kyle Bekker (1 goal, 4 assists) were forced to go the full 120.