Match Preview: Toronto

The Orange and Blue enter Saturday night at Nippert Stadium looking to start their last month of play with a positive result and momentum to build into the future.

FC Cincinnati host Toronto FC in the return fixture of their July 27 meeting at BMO Field, which Cincinnati lost, 2-1.

Here are the storylines ahead of kickoff:

FCC want to be “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

No, the Disney movie series has nothing to do with Cincinnati, but Head Coach Ron Jans said he wants his club to be pirates in the remaining matches of the season. The gist is to steal points from other teams and disrupt their momentum or potential playoff hopes.

That starts Saturday when seventh-place Toronto FC come to Nippert. Because seventh place is the last spot in the postseason, TFC need points, and in theory, playing the worst team in the league should be a win.

That’s what Jans and FC Cincinnati want to prevent.

Jans also said he wants to provide opportunities for younger players, which comes at the perfect moment. Why? Because FCC are without two starters and another player who was in their 18 last Saturday night at FC Dallas.

Cincinnati and the rest of MLS have to play through the international break, which means teams will see players plucked from their rosters to represent their respective nations. For Cincinnati, Kendall Waston and Allan Cruz are with Costa Rica, while Alvas Powell represents Jamaica and Derrick Etienne Jr. does the same for Haiti.

What does this mean?

There’s a good chance a center midfield spot opens up for a rookie: either a recently recovered Frankie Amaya or Tommy McCabe, who awaits his first MLS start.

There’s also a chance Nick Hagglund plays his first match against Toronto, the team he played for from 2014-18.

Beginning with hosting Toronto, FCC have four home games this month, which means there’s time to make an impression on the field and reward fans who’ve attended matches throughout the season.

When the schedule released in January, a first glance at September hinted at home-field advantage for the Orange and Blue during a run to make the playoffs. Of course, that won’t happen in 2019.

But what can happen is impressive performances to close out the season to establish momentum into what should be a busy offseason. Saturday against Toronto is the first chance to make it happen.

Match Info

FC Cincinnati against Toronto FC

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Where: Nippert Stadium

Weather Forecast: Partly Cloudy, 74 degrees

TV: WSTR Star 64

Local Video Stream: FloFC

Out of Market Video Stream: ESPN+

Local Radio: WDJO (99.5 FM | 107.9 FM | 1480 AM)

Audio Stream: TuneIn App, fccincinnati.com

Tickets: Purchase tickets here.

Player to Watch and his Health Carousel Player Resume

Opponent’s Player to Watch: Midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo

The Spanish midfielder has been on fire since he arrived in Canada earlier this season. In 24 games played, he has 22 starts and has a combined nine goals and assists. That’s a great return for a player who should be a handful for the Cincinnati backline.

However, it’s worth noting Pozuelo went without a goal or assist in August, and the Orange and Blue will be hoping that trend continues into early September.

Club Connections

- Nick Hagglund spent five seasons with Toronto FC, who selected him No. 10 overall in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. Hagglund made 88 regular season appearances for Toronto and was an MLS Cup champion in 2017.

- Laurent Ciman played for the Montreal Impact when FCC Interim Head Coach Yoann Damet and Goalkeeper Coach Jack Stern were there between 2015-17.

- Darren Mattocks and Patrick Mullens played together at D.C. United last season.

- Roland Lamah and Alejandro Pozuelo were both at Swansea in 2013.

- Spencer Richey and Eriq Zavaleta attended IMG Academy together in 2008 and 2009.

- Technical Director Luke Sassano and Caleb Patterson-Sewell were in the New York Red Bulls organization together in 2008 and 2009.