After a satisfying midweek #HellisReal Derby win, FC Cincinnati enter Sunday night’s matchup against D.C. United with confidence, as both teams meet at Nippert Stadium hoping to make a late playoff push.
Here are the key storylines approaching kickoff:
Gyau: “We have to get a result.”
Joseph-Claude Gyau has always circled the D.C. United game on his calendar. It’s a meeting against his hometown team.
But his teammates have likely done the same given the importance of this meeting.
Nine of FCC’s last matches have been against teams sitting in playoff positions, making it difficult to earn points and generate momentum. But D.C. stroll into Nippert Stadium with a league-worst 12 points.
Considering the Orange and Blue are three points out of a playoff spot and playing a team that’s struggled throughout 2020, Sunday’s matchup is critical, Gyau said.
“It’s an important game,” the winger said Friday afternoon. “When you’re playing against another team that’s a direct competitor, you have to beat them if you want to go on to the playoffs. We’re going to have to get a result against them.”
What can FCC expect from D.C.?
The catch, though, is this match is D.C.’s first road game without former head coach Ben Olsen since 1997. Once a player with the club, then its head coach for 10 seasons, Gyau said he’s a “big figure” in the area, before Olsen resigned earlier this month.
Now, interim head coach Chad Ashton is directing the team and its tactics, which makes it harder for FCC to predict the visitors’ strategy.
“It can be harder (to scout),” FCC head coach Jaap Stam said. “That’s why we need to look at their last few games and how they’ve played and what they’ve done. Sometimes you see when the manager’s leaving, then they might change certain things and certain details in how they want to play.
“It’s going to be an interesting game. It’s going to be a tough game as well, of course. Two teams battling for their points. It’s going to be a very interesting one and hopefully we can make progress and get our result.”
Stam’s approach to the final matches
Yes, FCC’s playoff hopes are alive with five matches remaining, but Stam said that isn’t his only priority.
In a season full of inconsistency – either from leaking goals or struggling to score them – Cincinnati wants one solid performance after another. If that’s achieved, the points will pile up.
“Everybody within the team and the club wants to go to the playoffs and so do we,” Stam said. “We spoke about that a while ago. We spoke about us needing to be realistic about who we are and what we can bring at times. We had a good game against Columbus and we’re still close, of course and we can go there. That’s still an aim. But for its important for how we want to play that were going to be consistent in getting there.
It’s still a thing in our heads, but it’s not our main focus of, like, ‘We need to be there.’ We need to look at ourselves and what we need to do from game to game.”
Eastern Conference standings
10. Atlanta United FC | 19 points
11. Chicago Fire FC | 19 points
12. Inter Miami CF | 18 points
13. FC Cincinnati | 16 points
14. D.C. United | 12 points
FC Cincinnati hosts D.C. United
When: Sunday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Nippert Stadium (no fans permitted)
TV: WSTR Star 64
In-Market Stream: www.fccincinnati.com/stream
Out-of-Market Stream: ESPN+
Local Radio: 99.5 FM | 107.9 FM | 1480 AM
Audio Stream: TuneIn App | www.fccincinnati.com
- D.C.’s Felipe Martins has multiple connections with FCC players and coaches. In 2014, he was with Yoann Damet and Jack Stern in the Montreal Impact organization. Martins and Hassan Ndam were both in the New York Red Bulls organization in 2017, and Martins played with Kendall Waston for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC in 2018.
- Greg Garza and Brandon Vazquez played with Julian Gressel for Atlanta United FC from 2017-19, while Yamil Asad was also with Atlanta in 2017.
- Garza and Paul Arriola both played for Club Tijuana from 2013-17.
- Joseph-Claude Gyau and Caleb Stanko have both played alongside Arriola for the U.S. Men’s National Team. On Sept. 6, 2016, Stanko and Arriola played in a 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago. Gyau and Arriola then represented the U.S. on June 5, 2019, against Jamaica.
- Garza has also represented the USMNT with two other D.C. United players: with Bill Hamid on Nov. 18, 2014 against Ireland, and Jan. 29, 2017 against Serbia.
- Garza, Gyau and Spencer Richey were all at IMG Academy when Earl Edwards Jr. was there between 2007-09.
- Kendall Waston and Ulises Segura both played for Deportivo Saprissa on 2014.