Match: Harrisburg City Islanders vs FC Cincinnati
Date: Tuesday, September 12th
Time: 6:30 p.m. Eastern, 5:30 p.m. Central, 3:30 p.m. Pacific, 10:30 p.m. UTC
Venue: FNB Field (Harrisburg, PA)
Refs: Unavailable at press time.
How Cincinnati will look: Cincinnati comes into this match with a bit more rest than Harrisburg, they haven’t played since they drew 1-1 against Pittsburgh back on September 2nd. Hopefully they used that time to shake off some of their struggles from the month of August, when they were clobbered in back to back matches against Louisville and NYRB II. They’ve managed to play well enough to stay in playoff position, but their hold on eight place is tenuous at best with teams like Bethlehem and Pittsburgh breathing down their necks.
Djiby Fall was the biggest name in Cincy during the early part of the season (for a variety of reasons) but he hasn’t been making much of an impact lately. Sure he’s got eleven goals this season, but he hasn’t scored since Harrisburg played in Cincinnati back in July. The bigger goal scoring threat of late has been Danni Konnig. And don’t forget about former City Islander Jimmy McLaughlin. He has scored three times this season, including once against his former team.
How Harrisburg will look: It has only been two matches, but Harrisburg’s switch to a 3-4-3 formation has been going great so far. They’ve scored two goals in each of their last two matches, which is a huge improvement for a team that had just gone six matches without scoring. So all signs point to them continuing to use that shape going forward.
This will be Harrisburg’s third match in seven days, so fatigue could be a factor, especially later in the match. But the City Islanders have been playing a crowded schedule like this all season, so there’s a chance that they’ve just gotten used to it by now. On the plus side, they’ll have Mo Dabo and Tiago Calvano ready to get back on the field after they sat out of the Saint Louis match due to yellow card accumulation.
What to expect: FC Cincinnati’s biggest enemy for Tuesday’s match will most likely be FC Cincinnati. They manhandled the City Islanders by a 3-0 score the last time these teams met, so it’s possible that they’ll be looking past Harrisburg as they prepare to face NYRB II on Saturday. They wouldn’t be the first top USL team to make this mistake. Louisville, Charlotte, Charleston, and Tampa Bay have all allowed Harrisburg to take a lead on them at FNB Field and then they were forced to scramble to try and secure points.
The City Islanders will want to follow the template from those past matches and try and get on the scoreboard early. Harrisburg does not play well when they’re playing from behind, and in matches where they’ve gone down by two goals the matches have a tendency to get out of hand fast. So if Harrisburg wants to get points off of FC Cincinnati at home, they need to attack the goal right away to try and get a lead to protect.
I want to take this opportunity to phone a friend and invite Evan, our Bethlehem Steel correspondent, to say a little something about this match-up. So Evan, a Harrisburg win would be huge for Bethlehem’s playoff chances. You’ve seen the Steel beat FC Cincinnati twice this season, how does Harrisburg get the win Tuesday night?
Evan: Oh, hey Chris, didn’t see you here, in your own article. I’ve seen Steel beat Cincy twice and I’m still not entirely sure how that worked. As far as our playoff chances go, you’ve helped us out a bunch by having Pedro Ribiero grab that super late winner against St Louis and you’re definitely right, a win here would put a ton of pressure off of Bethlehem, but I’ll stop infringing on Harrisburg’s preview. I think you guys play a really blue collar, physical style and definitely early on in the year Cincy head coach Alan Koch’s team was ill-disciplined and we were able to capitalize on being up a man. Score early, bunker down and draw some
really cheap hard earned fouls, and you’ll be alright.
PREDICTION: Harrisburg has revived their season with a lot of fresh energy during the past week, but is it enough to counter all of FC Cincinnati’s talent? It’s a bit of a tough sell, but I think Harrisburg manages to secure a 2-2 draw at home.