Eleven months after FC Cincinnati last played at Nippert Stadium, they’ll finally play their 2020 home opener against D.C. United.
The teams were initially scheduled to play March 14. Now, their matchup is on Aug. 21.
On Saturday afternoon, MLS unveiled the first slate of in-market matches for all 26 teams, which marks the first that time clubs can play in home markets since the league suspended matches on March 12.
FCC are currently scheduled for six games, but expect more matches to be added in the coming weeks as the league attempts to complete an altered regular season.
Below are the main takeaways from Saturday’s announcement and what it means for Cincinnati.
Close proximity between games and opponents
FCC will play six regular-season games between Aug. 21 and Sept. 12.
Up to this point, the team has played five regular season games – two from March and three from the MLS is Back Tournament group stage. That number will jump to 11 in less than four weeks.
The new scheduled is designed to get as many regular season games played as possible, and against teams that are close to the Queen City.
The Orange and Blue playing Columbus Crew SC twice in the #HellisReal Derby was probably expected, but that explains why FCC also play Chicago Fire FC twice. The games against New York City FC and D.C. United serve as additional matches against Eastern Conference sides.
Home opener features same opponent on a different date
FC Cincinnati’s 2020 home opener was initially scheduled for March 14 against D.C United at Nippert Stadium. Two days before kickoff, the league suspended the regular season with no confirmed return date.
A second home opener scheduled against the same opponent is random, but it’s a refreshing restart to play resuming – even if there won’t be fans in the stadium.
Head coach Jaap Stam regularly referred to the MLS is Back Tournament as a “preseason” for the team to prepare for the league’s eventual in-market return. We’re less than two weeks away from that return.
Two more #HellisReal Derbies
In 2019, Cincinnati played Columbus twice in two weeks. In 2020, they meet twice in eight days.
FCC opened the MLS is Back Tournament against Crew SC in a frustrating 4-0 loss. The match was head coach Jaap Stam’s debut with the team, and was the catalyst to a formation change and a new identity and playing style.
Now that the derby returns to Ohio, how will FCC look against their biggest rival with different tactics from their July meeting?
Their first rematch is scheduled for Aug. 29 at Nippert Stadium, while they’ll clash again on Sept. 6 at MAPFRE Stadium.
Imagine how nice it’d be to close the derby at Nippert Stadium the same way as the first meeting in 2017: with a win.
This is an early chance for a playoff push
It’s hard to think about the 2020 postseason when FCC are a handful of games into the regular season, but the Orange and Blue are about to play three opponents who sit below them in the standings.
These games offer Cincinnati the opportunity to build off a successful MLS is Back Tournament campaign that began with a rocky debut and ended with hope.
In a year filled with uncertainly, a nice start to a restarted regular season could go a long way once more matches are scheduled and the MLS postseason inches closer.
How the Eastern Conference table sits
Cincinnati sits eighth – with six points from five games. As for the upcoming opponents:
1. Columbus (13 points)
10. D.C. United (5 points)
11. Chicago (4 points)
12. New York City (3 points)