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Match Preview: Penn FC vs FC Cincinnati

Penn FC is in a must win situation against the top team in the East

Penn FC

Match: Penn FC vs FC Cincinnati

Date: Saturday, September 22nd

Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central, 4:00 p.m. Pacific, 11:00 p.m. UTC

Venue: FNB Field (City Island. Harrisburg, PA)

Refs: REF: Thomas Snyder AR1: Jeff Skinker AR2: Joshua Encarnacion 4TH: Patrick Casey

How to Watch: ESPN + (Subscription Required)

How FC Cincinnati will look: Cincy comes to City Island with a seven match winning streak that just so happened to kick off with that 1-0 victory over Penn FC back in August. And while having a player like Fanendo Adi available has been helpful, you can’t just credit him for all the wins. Cincy has an impressive depth of talent, and multiple guys like Corben Bone and Emmanuel Ledesma have been playing great.

Cincy does have a bit of a crowded schedule as they’re playing three matches over the next week. They’ve also clinched a playoff birth and they only need a couple of wins to secure the USL supporter’s shield. So there may not be a big sense of urgency for them. Some starters will most likely be left out or be on the bench as the team rests up ahead of their playoff run.

How Penn FC will look: Penn FC had been holding tough against even their most difficult opponents, but they really struggled against Louisville on Wednesday night. Their 3-0 loss was their first loss by more than one goal since the 3-1 loss against Nashville on June 2nd. The defense will need to regain their form immediately if they want to have a chance against FC Cincinnati.

Penn FC is going to need veteran players like Lucky Mkosana and Paulo Jr. to step up and make the difference on Saturday night. But that’s a lot to ask because not only have these guys been playing twice a week for the last two weeks, they still have to save some energy for Pittsburgh next Wednesday.

What to Expect: Last season, the Harrisburg City Islanders came within five seconds of upsetting FC Cincinnati at home, so don’t expect Cincy to overlook Penn FC just because they’re lower on the table. During the first match up this season, Cincy didn’t get many shots off and they were fortunate to get their one goal off of a free kick. So they’ve probably learned their lesson and will push hard at Penn FC to try and create a several goal cushion before they relax.

Based on their recent run of form, Penn FC’s goal for Saturday is to score first at all costs. The boys in blue have to be worn out from playing so often and they simply cannot spend another sixty or seventy minutes chasing their opponents up and down the pitch trying to equalize. With that in mind, perhaps they should keep a more defensive position early to keep things scoreless while Cincy figures things out. Then they will be able to make some subs in the second half to change their strategy and push hard for a late winner.

Cincy is loaded with talent, but here’s a few potential weaknesses that Penn FC can exploit. If FC Cincinnati rotates out some of their usual starters, it’s possible that their new eleven won’t gel one hundred percent at the start. They may also struggle on the baseball field much like Indy Eleven did (but Louisville did not) which could leave them exposed for a defensive breakdown. And finally, Toronto FC II showed that one excellent way to score on Cincy is to send a few long range bangers past the keeper. Fortunately Penn FC has Aaron Dennis who is skilled at that exact thing.

For more insight on this match, check me out over on Cincy Soccer Talk’s podcast.

PREDICTION: Well, Penn FC is struggling while Cincy is firing on all cylinders. I think they don’t give away three goals like they did against Louisville, but it’s hard to pick against the top team in the East. I think Cincy gets a win 2-0.