FC Cincinnati play their penultimate home game Saturday night when they host the Chicago Fire at Nippert Stadium. The matchup pairs the teams for the final time this season, and offers the Orange and Blue the opportunity to sweep Chicago.
Here are the main storylines approaching kickoff:
FCC are looking for a bounce back performance against the Fire after a 2-0 loss to Atlanta United FC on Wednesday night.
Cincinnati played well overall, but failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities. Atlanta, however, seized its chances and left the Queen City with all three points.
With such a quick turnaround, there’s no point dwelling on what happened Wednesday. FCC only have two training sessions before hosting the Fire, a team they beat in the first matchup on July 13.
Then, Allan Cruz scored inside 45 seconds and Fanendo Adi scored the game-winning goal in the 83rd minute. Cruz missed Wednesday because of concussion protocol, but could play Saturday if he’s cleared. Adi hasn’t played since July 21.
“Three games in seven days is not easy,” Andrew Gutman said. “So, you’ve got to rely on almost the whole team to play. You’ve just got to take it day by day and get ready for Saturday.”
That’s what Gutman said when asked how does the team recover during the short turnaround. Joseph-Claude Gyau provided a similar answer.
As for Head Coach Ron Jans, he hinted he’ll need to rotate the squad and make changes to his starting XI. Against Atlanta, he swapped four players from the 1-0 win at the Montreal Impact last Saturday. During Wednesday’s post-match press conference, he said he’ll make at least one change, if not more.
With three games left, Jans is still offering chances to players to evaluate who remains with the team beyond 2019.
FC Cincinnati supporters know Chicago’s return to Nippert Stadium presents a joyous moment of reflection for the home side. After all, perhaps the biggest moment in FCC’s pre-MLS history came against the Fire in 2017, when the USL side beat MLS’ hottest team in a penalty shootout.
Mitch Hildebrandt famously made three stops to push Cincinnati through to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals.
That’s good history. Saturday night could provide a less admirable feat.
If FC Cincinnati concede a goal in any of the next three matches, they’ll set the record for most goals conceded in an MLS season. FCC and Orlando City SC currently share that record (74).
Entering Saturday, the Orange and Blue only have three clean sheets all season.
FC Cincinnati host Chicago Fire
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Nippert Stadium
Weather Forecast: Partly Cloudy, 81 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 your tickets here.
Player to Watch and his Health Carousel Player Resume
Opponent’s Player to Watch: Forward C.J. Sapong
Sapong leads Chicago with 12 goals so far this season, including two against FC Dallas on Sept. 14. His goals have come sporadically, though.
Not including his brace against Dallas, the forward only took four shots total in his previous four matches. Considering he leads the Fire in scoring, it’ll be key for the Orange and Blue backline to minimize the 30-year-old’s attacking potential.
- Former FC Cincinnati captain and current Strength and Conditioning Coach Austin Berry was the 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year with Chicago. Between 2012-13, he made 62 appearances for the Fire.
- Corben Bone played for the Fire from 2010-13 and made 18 appearances for the club.
- Andrew Gutman played in the Chicago Fire Academy. FCC needed to acquire the left back's MLS rights from Chicago before Gutman could join Cincinnati on loan from Celtic FC.
- Kekuta Manneh and David Ousted were at Vancouver Whitecaps FC from 2013-17. Additionally, Kendall Waston (2014-2018) and Darren Mattocks (2013-16) played with Ousted. Ousted and Mattocks reunited at D.C. United in 2018.
- Greg Garza and Moreno were at Tijuana together from 2014-16.
- Nick Hagglund and Raheem Edwards were teammates at Toronto FC in 2016 and 2017.
- Jimmy McLaughlin and C.J Sapong were teammates with the Philadelphia Union in 2015.
- Victor Ulloa and Richard Sanchez played together at FC Dallas from 2011-14.