Cincinnati Enquirer journalists Pat Brennan and Charlie Hatch talk about the 1-1 tie recreation between FC Cincinnati and The Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
The Enquirer/Phil Didion
Futbol Club Cincinnati is fighting two battles. The first is a late chance to secure home-field advantage in the looming United Soccer League Playoffs; the second is to avoid missing the postseason entirely.
It’s an unusual scenario in an Eastern Conference table that’s been cramped since mid-March. FC Cincinnati currently sits seventh, with the top eight teams advancing to the playoffs. The top four teams play their first round match at home.
For a club like Cincinnati, though, there’s a huge incentive to playing at Nippert Stadium. Of course there’s a record-setting crowd and hostile atmosphere, but there’s also an avoidance of a measly away record of only two league wins on the roads this season.
So when asked if it was strange to think the team is five points from a home playoff game and two points from dropping out of a playoff spot, head coach Alan Koch smiled and said it further proved the parity of the league in 2017.
“It’s exciting,” Koch said. “It does make it more challenging, of course, because there’s so much parity. You’ve seen teams in last place beat teams in first place, and that wasn’t just the beginning of the season. That was like a week or two ago. So anything can happen in one game.
“So yeah, we’re fighting to be hosts, we’re fighting to get into the playoffs, too, at the same time. But if we started thinking about that right now, we’re losing site of what the actual goal is, and the goal on Saturday is to go and get three points.”
FC Cincinnati hosts New York Red Bulls II on Saturday in the club’s final regular season home match. It’ll be an acid test – either an opportunity for the club to make up ground against the sixth-place team, or a worrying result that will begin four matches on the road.
But Saturday will also serve as another round of matches across the league, where conference standings will likely alter as the games continue. Other than last-place Toronto FC II, every team has a chance to move up – or down – in the table.
Center midfielder Kenney…