Match: Penn FC at FC Cincinnati
Date: Sunday, August 12th
Time: 6:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 p.m. Central, 3:00 p.m. Pacific, 10:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: Nippert Stadium (Cincinnati, OH)
Refs: REF: Mark Allatin AR1: Maggie Short AR2: Jeffrey Swartzel 4TH: Mike Nickerson
How to Watch: ESPN+ (Subscription Required)
How Cincy will look: FC Cincinnati made waves in the USL a little while back when they picked up a few new MLS players ahead of their jump to that league next season. Both Fanendo Adi and Fatai Alashe are major acquisitions and they could both be set to tear through the Eastern Conference to close out the season. But their amount of availability is still uncertain for this match. Alashe hasn’t made his debut yet and Adi only put in about twenty minutes in his debut as a sub last week.
You definitely won’t see Emery Welshman on Sunday night as he’ll be serving out the final game of his three match suspension for a violent foul against Charlotte. It’s also unlikely that Swedish international Pa Konte is able to play as well since reports out of Cincy indicate he’s still getting paperwork in order. He recently joined the club on loan from SPAL in Serie A.
How Penn FC will look: After last week’s match against NYRB II, it feels like there needs to be two separate write ups for how Penn FC will play during a given match. The Penn FC side that has been playing during the first half of just about every match since June has been pretty dreadful. But second half Penn FC has put together some incredible comebacks to make up for it. Perhaps Head Coach Raoul Voss should investigate if the league will somehow allow them play two second halves in a row from now on.
Expect the lineup to remain consistent from previous weeks because that still remains Penn FC’s best XI available overall. Isaac Osae might might an appearance after returning from a trial period in Denmark, and his size up front should pair well again with Lucky Mkosana. If defenders are drawn towards Osae, it might give Mkosana more space to operate.
What to expect: There’s a good chance that many of the readers of this preview are FC Cincinnati fans who have come here to answer one question, are we going to see Tommy Heinemann on Sunday night?
Tommy pulled up limping during Penn FC’s June 12th match against Richmond. It wasn’t clear how severe the injury was, just that he would be out for at least a little while. But while he was recouperating, Lucky Mkosana started scoring like crazy and Isaac Osae really stepped up as a striker as well. So there was no need to rush him back onto the pitch and aggravate any injuries. So he hasn’t appeared in the eighteen lately, but he is healthy and training with the team. I’d say there’s about a fifty percent chance he makes an appearance as a substitute and a ten percent chance he gets the start against his former team.
Speaking of former teams, beloved Harrisburg City Islander Jimmy McLaughlin has apparently made it his mission to inflict pain on Harrisburg teams whenever they meet. It seems like he always manages to score against them, including the equalizer deep, deep in stoppage time last season on City Island. He’s mostly been coming on as a substitute for Cincy, so he could be trouble late in the match for Penn FC.
This will be the third time that a Harrisburg teams visits FC Cincinnati, and if Penn FC manages to score on Sunday night it’ll be the first time that a Harrisburg team has scored in Nippert Stadium. Now, to be fair, both of the previous Harrisburg-Cincy matches at Nippert ended up going off the rails a bit. The match in 2016 included a vicious elbow by Aaron Wheeler that saw Harrisburg reduced to ten men for almost a whole half. And last year’s match was twice delayed by lightning, so it took a few extra hours to play the full ninety minutes. Hopefully the 2018 match will be more straightforward.
PREDICTION: I think there’s only two possible outcomes Sunday night. One possibility is FC Cincinnati competently takes care of business 3-0 with another Jimmy McLaughlin goal for good measure. The other possibility is Cincy scores one early, then sorta zones out in the second half (much like they did when they allowed Toronto FC II to come back from two goals down to draw them 3-3), which allows Penn FC to equalize before Tommy Heinemann puts away the “how do you like me now?!” game winner.
The first scenario is more likely than the second.