Fresh off their first road win in 2020, FC Cincinnati return home on Wednesday night to host the Philadelphia Union at Nippert Stadium.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of kickoff:
FCC hoping to carry momentum from NYRB win
The Orange and Blue ended a six-game winless drought on Saturday night when they beat the New York Red Bulls, 1-0. The match was the culmination of the team staying strong defensively, while capitalizing on its attacking potential.
FCC are now hoping to repeat that performance against a Philadelphia side that sits second in the Eastern Conference standings.
“We’re playing against a good side on Wednesday,” head coach Jaap Stam said. “A lot of individual qualities, and as a team they’re playing well together in a system that’s not always easy to play against. We need to prepare ourselves in the best way we can to give ourselves and make it very difficult for them.
“After last weekend’s game and the result we had, how the players feel, they’re looking forward to this game as well.”
Slowing down a strong Philly squad
The Union have won five of their last six and enter Wednesday’s match, with the only loss against first-place Columbus Crew SC.
Philadelphia’s record speaks to its quality, but Stam said its 4-4-2 diamond midfield makes it difficult for opponents to dominate matches.
“You need to make choices because they play a lot with a diamond midfield, two up front and then four at the back,” Stam said. “Sometimes, they switch their system, but it makes it difficult to pick up certain players in certain areas.
“A couple of their players have got freedom in where they’re able to go and take up positions, so in your team, you need to have a lot of communication and handing over players to others if other players get into your area … There’s always a system against that to do well, but it’s got a lot to do with how you perform yourself.”
Richey: “A lot can happen in a few games
Before the 1-0 win against the New York Red Bulls, goalkeeper Spencer Richey hadn’t played since March 7. First, he was sidelined because of the pandemic, but then he was picked second on the depth chart and sustained a concussion during an MLS is Back Tournament training session.
But for going six months between starts, he had a strong performance against the Red Bulls and produced his first clean sheet since March 2019.
“It was huge,” Richey said of the clean sheet. “Obviously, it’s been a disappointing two months for me, there’s no way around it with Jaap coming in and making the decision he was going to play (Przemysław Tytoń) in those first for games in Orlando … I’m delighted to come back and have a chance now to step in and get a few games here.
“I know as well as anyone that a lot can happen in a few games, both good and bad.”
The last time FCC played Philadelphia, Richey had one of the top performances of any goalkeeper in club history debate. Despite a 2-0 loss in May 2019, he produced a career-high six saves and kept Cincinnati in contention to earn a result.
If he plays Wednesday, he said he can use that game as a reference point to help build confidence entering a tough matchup.
“You’re always looking for different experiences and past memories to use to aid your confidence and help yourself going into the games,” Richey said. “But I’m also a big believer in either good or bad performances, you have to approach the game the same … I think goalkeeper is a position when, when it’s played at its best, your goalkeepers are reliable and you can count on them. It’s not something you need to think twice about.”
FC Cincinnati host New York Red Bulls
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Nippert Stadium (No fans permitted in the stadium)
Weather: Mostly Cloudy, 73 Degrees
TV: WSTR Star 64
In-Market Stream: www.fccincinnati.com/stream
Local Radio: WDJO 99.5 FM | 107.9 FM | 1480 AM
Audio Stream: TuneIn App, fccincinnati.com
Haris Medunjanin made 98 appearances for the Philadelphia Union between 2017-19.
Jimmy McLaughlin made three appearances for the Union between 2012-15.
Nick Hagglund, Warren Creavalle and Joe Bendik were Toronto FC teammates in 2014 and 2015.
Hassan Ndam and Aurelien Collin were in the New York Red Bulls organization together in 2017 and 2018.
Greg Garza, Joseph-Claude Gyau and Caleb Stanko have all played for the USMNT alongside Alejandro Bedoya. Garza, Gyau and Bedoya also represented the country in the same match on two occasions in 2014 (the two occasions Gyau played with Bedoya). Overall, Garza and Bedoya played together seven times, while Stanko and Bedoya were teammates once in 2016.