After a thrilling playoff victory over Nashville SC in penalty kicks (6-5) Oct. 20 at Nippert Stadium, FC Cincinnati (FCC) is set to host New York Red Bulls II in the Eastern Conference Semifinal on Saturday.
FCC, the No. 1 seed and regular-season United Soccer League (USL) champion, boasts a 23-3-8 record and hasn’t lost a league match since May 26.
The Orange and Blue concluded the USL regular season with a 23-game unbeaten streak, during which the club was 17-0-6 in USL matches.
The Red Bulls II (No. 5 seed) has a 13-8-13 record after advancing in the playoffs, defeating the Charleston Battery 1-0 last week at MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina.
Cincinnati and New York met twice during the regular season, with Cincinnati recording 2-1 wins in each of the matches.
“[New York] has lot of young lads that are full of energy — they’re a tough team to play against because of the way they play,” FCC defender Paddy Barrett said in a news release. “We know from the last two times that they gave us difficult games. We know what to expect Saturday and hopefully we can put on a performance like we did [last] Saturday night and get the win that we need.”
Four Cincinnati players have registered double-digit goals on the season: midfielder Emmanuel Ledesma (16), midfielder Corben Bone (12), forward Danni König (11) and midfielder Nazmi Albadawi (11).
Goalkeeper Spencer Richey tied his FCC single-match high in saves, with five in the win over Nashville.
After enduring multiple extra periods to advance last week, FCC head coach Alan Koch is focused on his players’ stamina heading into the next round.
“We’re definitely monitoring the workload of the group and individual players,” Koch said in a news release. “To go through a long season, but then also go through 120 minutes [against Nashville], we’ve been very, very careful in terms of making sure the guys are set up for success on Saturday … Everybody that is here [is healthy], not 100 percent, but we wouldn’t expect them to be 100 percent right now, particularly the guys that played a lot.”
The match kicks off Saturday at 4 p.m. inside Nippert Stadium.
Television coverage will be provided by WSTR 64, and online streaming will be available on ESPN+.
Unable to watch? The Project 100.7 / 106.3 will provide radio coverage.