I will be heading to Cincinnati for the Hounds’ lone trip to the Queen City this season.
This will be a grudge match between two teams desperate to stay above the playoff line in a very tight USL Eastern Conference table.
• What is left of Hurricane Harvey will be making its way through the Ohio Valley on Friday and early Saturday, and somewhere between 1 and 2 inches of rain are expected to drench the Cincinnati area, but it is expected to taper off by 4 p.m. game time.
• Riding a three-game win streak, the Hounds attack has awakened to the tune of eight goals in the past three games. Here’s my in-depth feature on the Hounds scoring surge earlier this week.
• FC Cincinnati has been a fascinating team to follow this season, not only because they’ve been continuing to shatter attendance records, but they also made a remarkably deep run in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup — ending with a semifinal loss in overtime to NY Red Bulls. Head coach Alan Koch has also added a lot of new faces to the roster since the Hounds faced them on April 2 at Highmark Stadium. For a more detailed scouting report on FCC, Michael Walker from Blue and Orange Press provided me with his insights in my FCC scouting report piece on Pittsburgh Soccer Report.
• The Hounds have yet to beat FCC, or even put a goal past goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt in four tries in the brief history of this series that began last May. The Hounds have lost to FCC by three 1-0 scores, and the two teams also battled to a 0-0 draw at Highmark Stadium in late September 2016.
• The Hounds injury report this week included all of the players on the roster that are out for the season (Trey Mitchell, Keasel Broome, Rich Balchan, Shane Campbell), but also one other notable listing, goalkeeper Nick Perrella, who is listed as probable (neck).
• Perrella’s placement on the injury report may be a subtle hint that the Hounds will be going with newly acquired Alex Kapp (on loan from MLS Minnesota United) for his first-ever pro start at Cincinnati on Saturday. Coincidentally, the Hounds have gone with two goalkeepers (Zach Steffen, Columbus and Calle Brown, Houston) who are in MLS now at the end of the previous two seasons. From that perspective, Kapp, Atlanta United’s 64th overall pick in 2017 MLS SuperDraft, would likely have the advantage over Perrella, who held his own in his first start last week in 3-2 win over Bethlehem Steel FC. Perrella, who made two starts in 2016 with the Steel FC, was brought to Pittsburgh in mid-August to replace the injured Broome prior to Mitchell’s season ending injury.