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Preview: 6/13 vs Bethlehem Steel FC

By D.J. Switzer, 06/12/18, 2:15PM EDT


After the Orange and Blue just picked up a victory on the road on Saturday, they're back in action at home on Wednesday, June 13, at 7:30 p.m. when they host Bethlehem Steel FC.

The first of two matches at Nippert Stadium this week, Wednesday’s contest will also be FC Cincinnati's second-annual Equality Night. Rainbow-themed elements will be spread throughout the evening program, including corner flags and stadium signage to celebrate the club and city's vibrant LGBTQ community and its friends, families and supporters. Tickets for the match are still available here.

The match has also been selected as one of the United Soccer League's ESPN Games of the Week and will be streamed live on ESPN3/WatchESPN instead of on ESPN+. The match will still be shown on local Cincinnati television on Star64 (WSTR), and it can be listened to live on ESPN 1530, as well.

A Little Background

This will be FCC’s second meeting with the Philadelphia Union's reserve side in 2018, with the last meeting taking place at Bethlehem's Goodman Stadium in mid-April. The Orange and Blue left the Lehigh Valley with a point thanks to a match-levelling strike from Nazmi Albadawi, his first goal for the club – which came in his first start. 

That result took FC Cincinnati's all-time series record against Steel FC to 3-2-1, and an undefeated 2-0-0 record at the friendly confines of Nippert Stadium.

That's not to say that Bethlehem should be taken lightly on Wednesday, though.

Currently sitting in eighth place in the USL East table, the team has only lost once in their last five league matches. That string of results saw them steal six points on the road in both North Carolina and New York, and earn a big home draw with Louisville last weekend. And given that they've been unencumbered by the Open Cup – reserve sides of other professional clubs are excluded from the competition – they've had fewer matches overall to this point in the season.

For FCC's part, they enter the match on a two-game league winning streak that's kept them top of the table in the USL's Eastern Conference. Much of that has come from the team’s scorching 6-1-1 road record this campaign, and with nine of the next 11 USL contests at Nippert Stadium, Cincy will be looking to build on its 2-2-1 home record.

What to Expect

Many will look to new FCC all-time leading scorer Danni König to get things moving on Wednesday night. The Danish forward, who only joined Cincinnati in May of last season, netted his 17th goal for the club on Saturday's win at North Carolina FC. The tally moved him alone into the first place in the FCC's scoring charts, surpassing Djiby Fall and Sean Okoli's 16 goals in all competitions.

König, however, will have to do without the help of his recent front-running partner, Argentine talisman Emmanuel Ledesma. The league-leader in assists will miss out on Wednesday's action because of yellow card accumulation following his caution in North Carolina on Saturday.

As for Bethlehem, their biggest threats often come from the speedy counter-attacks orchestrated by the trio of Cory Burke (#19), Santi Moar (#38) and Marcus Epps (#20). Together, they account for more than a third of their side's goal output and 42 percent of their assists in 2018. And with their MLS side off for the next two weeks, it's entirely possible that some of their first team could be afforded some valuable minutes in the USL team in the midweek fixture, too.

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