Three Question Preview: Matchday 21
It's Matchday 21, but more importantly it's the final FC Cincinnati match at Nippert Stadium. Fanless, winless, goalless, and hopeless, Cincinnati is on the verge of another historicly bad season. Here are the three questions on my mind going into tonight's match.
Will FC Cincinnati end the Nippert Era like they started?
The home opener for FC Cincinnati's debut campaign is one of those matches everyone claims they attended, but with "only" 14,000 in attendance you know not all of them did. That match saw a Sean Okoli scissor kick and a goal from team captain, and Cincinnati native, Austin Berry. An amazing way to introduce the city to their new soccer team. These days, Nippert doesn't feel quite as optimistic. For one, fans aren't allowed at this final match. And for two, the team has been historically terrible for two years. One last win at Nippert, maybe a flashy goal from the striker and a goal from the hometown centerback, would be enough to keep this fan-base riding a buzz into the West End Stadium. Without it, pessimism probably seeps into the fan-base that will be difficult to remove.
Can FC Cincinnati score a goal?
Probably not, but here's a benchmark put forward by Jeff Carlisle over at ESPN:
"Last year, Cincinnati set a record for most goals conceded with 75. This year it might set a mark for averaging the fewest goals per game. At present, FCC has averaged 0.55 goals per game. The record belongs to the 2013 D.C. United squad that scored 0.65. FCC needs four more goals to avoid an ignominious mark."
Just when we thought the 2020 team was an improvement on the historically bad 2019 team, we're reminded that the 2020 team is also historically bad. A goal or two tonight keeps this record away, for now.
Which players will be here next year?
These final three matches essentially don't matter to FC Cincinnati for the 2020 season, but they will matter for the 2021 season. Which players stand out as obvious candidates to keep around and which ones make a case for being left behind will be what Stam, Njikamp, and Freeman will be looking for. So far Barreal and Amaya look like the only two obvious nailed-on carry-overs. Who else will join them? Who might we be losing?