Analyzing FC Cincinnati's 2019 MLS Regular Season Schedule

The schedule for FC Cincinnati’s inaugural Major League Soccer season was released Monday afternoon. The campaign sees the expansion club hosting 17 matches at Nippert Stadium, while playing 17 on the road.

The schedule release is the latest milestone for FCC, which is less than two months away from its MLS opener at Seattle Sounders FC on March 2.

For the full schedule, click here. For a look at five of my most intriguing home games — listed by dates — read below.

FC Cincinnati vs. Portland Timbers

When: March 17, 5:00 p.m. (Sunday) on FS1. Nippert Stadium is an MLS venue.

MLS arrives at Nippert Stadium. So much of FCC’s history focused on getting to this point. Once the match kicks off, what matters is what comes next.

The game is scheduled for a prime-time slot on national television and allows FC Cincinnati supporters to replicate the cauldron of noise they produced during the United Soccer League seasons.

But there’s more to the match than the home-opening celebrations.

Portland is the third team in as many weeks FC Cincinnati plays that has an MLS Cup championship since 2015. Thus, it’s hardly an easy first home game. In addition, Fanendo Adi, FCC’s first Designated Player, and Alvas Powell, its most-recent acquisition, will play against their former club for the first time.

FC Cincinnati vs. LA Galaxy

When: June 22, 7:30 p.m. (Saturday)

Zlatan Ibrahimović comes to Nippert. Probably.

Regardless, the fixture sees FC Cincinnati welcoming a rejuvenated Galaxy side under first-year coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who FCC fans might remember as a Columbus Crew SC player (2007-10).

The game will be Cincinnati’s first in more than two weeks while the league pauses during the Gold Cup. The match is also the half-way point in the 2019 campaign, and stands as the only home match in June.

Following the Galaxy game, however, FC Cincinnati plays 10 home games in its next 17 matches. That should sound inviting to a team that only played seven home games in its first 17 matches.

FC Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew SC

When: Aug. 25, 8:00 p.m. on FS1

Hell is real again. After FC Cincinnati beat Columbus 1-0 during the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup run, the clubs meet again at Nippert for the first time in MLS.

When the teams first met, there were doubts if they would ever play in a league match.

Now, the Crew are under new ownership and staying in Columbus. FC Cincinnati is a top-flight club and will be moving forward. This isn’t the first time the clubs meet in 2019 — they’ll play in a preseason game and then at MAPFRE Stadium on Aug. 10 — but this is Cincinnati’s first chance to welcome its foe to Nippert in MLS.

FC Cincinnati vs. Atlanta United FC

When: Sept. 18, 7:30 p.m. (Wednesday)

The reigning MLS champion arrives at Nippert Stadium late in the season in a weeknight fixture. Atlanta will likely be in the running to win the Supporter’s Shield under first year coach Frank de Boer, while MLS MVP Josef Martínez (31 goals in 34 games last season) looks to repeat from a remarkable 2018 campaign.

The matchup with Atlanta begins a three-game home stand in the final four matches of the regular season. If FC Cincinnati remains in the playoff hunt, September offers four home games and a chance to make a fourth-consecutive postseason appearance.

Plus, left back Greg Garza welcomes his old teammates to his new home.

FC Cincinnati vs. Orlando City

When: Sept. 29, 5 p.m. (Saturday)

In the previous three seasons, FCC is unbeaten in home finales. That’s worth noting, especially as the club welcomes the worst team from 2018.

But deeper than the on-paper matchup is the rivalry between FC Cincinnati and Orlando’s coach, James O’Connor, who led arch-rival Louisville City FC in the USL before making the jump to MLS last summer.