After five seasons of unforgettable memories, FC Cincinnati will play their final match at Nippert Stadium on Wednesday night when they host Sporting Kansas City.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of kickoff:
Stam: “(Nippert) has got something special”
Jaap Stam has never coached an FC Cincinnati match with supporters at Nippert Stadium, but he understands the connections that fans have with the club’s first home.
“I can understand. If you look at the stadium, especially when the crowd is there and it’s packed before the game, that people have a great feeling there as well,” the head coach said. “Even without fans, it looks nice. It’s a good stadium to play at for the players. It’s got something special.
“To see it with the fans, that I’ve seen in pictures and clips, it looks amazing … It’s the last home game, hopefully we can give them something special for the fans watching on television.”
Spencer Richey, currently the second-longest serving player, said it’s been a privilege to play inside the venue for three seasons.
“It’s a bittersweet moment,” the goalkeeper said. “It’s bitter in the sense that this club has grown in a large part thanks to Nippert and the people that have shown up to games. I think next year will be an awesome experience for the club going into the new stadium, but the club wouldn’t be where it is without those gameday experiences at Nippert. That’s due mostly to the fans, to be honest. It’s been a great temporary home for this club.”
Richey helped hoist the 2018 USL Regular-Season Trophy for the Orange and Blue – the club’s lone silverware to date.
SKC lead the Western Conference
Nothing says sentimental sendoff like playing one of the toughest opponents of 2020. That’s the reality for the Orange and Blue, who host the Western Conference leaders on Wednesday night.
“They’re a good team with a lot of individual quality in their side,” Stam said. “In the last couple of games, they’ve changed their side due to internationals being away and players coming back. They’re at full strength on Wednesday when they face us.
“They’re top of the league. It’s an interesting game for us to see what we can bring against them.”
SKC have a one-point lead over Seattle Sounders FC in their conference with 33 points from 19 games.
The clubs drew, 1-1, last April at Nippert Stadium. Former forward Darren Mattocks converted a penalty to ensure a point for Cincinnati.
(Writer’s Note: So, games against Minnesota and SKC, but not Nashville SC?)
Medunjanin: “Play for pride”
With three regular season games remaining, FCC can still make the playoffs, albeit with multiple wins and a little luck.
The Orange and Blue are five points out of postseason play and sit last in the MLS standings. But the three games remaining are the last home game, then two matches against other opponents fighting for the playoffs. As Haris Medunjanin noted after the Minnesota United FC game this past Saturday, there’s plenty to play for.
“Everything is so close, for the places (in the) standings, ninth and tenth,” Medunjanin said. “If you want to go, you will be there … In MLS, the margins are so small … They’re also a tough team in the West. We need to give everything we got. We cannot give up. Three games to go and we have to give it our best. Play for our pride.”
FC Cincinnati are unbeaten in final regular-season home matches through the first four seasons in club history.
Relive old Nippert Stadium memories with Tuesday’s Heineken Happy Hour
Current and former players will join Tommy Gelehrter and Kevin McCloskey as they share their fondest memories and experiences at Nippert Stadium. Fans will be able to submit questions and five fans will be randomly selected to win a 5-year anniversary scarf.
The event begins at 6 p.m.
FC Cincinnati hosts Sporting Kansas City
When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Nippert Stadium (no fans permitted)
Weather: 55 Degrees
TV: WSTR Star 64
In-Market Stream: www.fccincinnati.com/stream
Out-of-Market Stream: ESPN+
Local Radio: WDJO 99.5 FM | 107.9 FM | 1480 AM
Audio Stream: TuneIn App | www.fccincinnati.com
Eastern Conference standings
10. Inter Miami CF | 21 points
11. Chicago Fire FC | 21 points
12. Atlanta United FC | 19 points
13. D.C. United | 18 points
14. FC Cincinnati | 16 points