Following their 1-1 draw with USL expansion team Fresno FC, Sacramento Republic FC head into their final preseason game with FC Cincinnati, who remain unbeaten in preseason play.
Alan Koch, who returns for his second year at the helm of the now-three-year-old FC Cincinnati, joined the USL side after spending two seasons as the head coach of Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2. Originally coming on as the Director of Scouting and Analytics and Assistant Coach in December of 2016, Koch was promoted to head coach just three months later, prior to the start of the 2017 season.
Prior to his work in the USL, the South Africa native coached at his alma mater—Simon Frasier University (SFU)—for seven seasons, becoming the quickest coach in program history to 100 victories. During his tenure, SFU compiled a 126-21-7 record, winning four GNAC championships, two Division II regional titles, twice advancing to the NCAA Division II Final Four. The six-time Conference Coach of the Year joined Whitecaps FC 2 in 2015, taking the team from eight wins in his first season to 12 in 2016, leading the USL side to Western Conference final.
In his first year with FC Cincinnati, Koch managed his club to a 12-10-10 finish, qualifying them for the USL Playoffs. However, more impressively, FCC advanced through five rounds of the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, knocking off MLS side Chicago Fire SC before falling in the semifinals to New York Red Bulls.
Coming off a season in which he appeared in 23 games, FC Cincinnati returns their second-leading scorer for the 2018 season, Danni König. A 6’2” forward from Tingbjerg, Denmark, König joined FCC as a mid-season transfer from Energy FC and did not disappoint. The Danish forward scored 11 goals and noched an assist, good for 23 points on the season, while also netting three game-winning goals. The 26-year-old should be a player to watch inside the box, as 91 percent of his goals in 2017 were scored from close range.
A former second-round pick of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, Kenney Walker earned USL Team of the Week honors and Player of the Week honors in 2017—a year in which he led his club in assists, tackles and tackles won. The center midfielder started in 26 of the 27 games in which he appeared, scored twice, and earned seven assists last season. He also remained highly successful in defensive and distributive stats, winning 75.7 percent of his 111 tackles and connecting at a 76.6 percent rate on 1,443 pass attempts.
Joining FC Cincinnati for their 2018 campaign is Oluwatomiwo Ameobi, a British striker who scored 21 goals and seven assists over his 95 appearances for FC Edmonton, where he played from 2014-17. The 6’3”, 185-pound forward projects to be a difference-maker for FCC in 2018, as he combines quickness with his strong frame.
Since their inception, FC Cincinnati have made their home at Nippert Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati. The stadium, which can hold more than 33,000 fans, has allowed FCC to set the single-game USL attendance record five times. FC Cincinnati has set all-time attendance records for the USL regular season, USL post season, USL home opener, U.S. Open Cup Fourth round, and drew the largest crowd in U.S. Open Cup history (33,250) during their August 15, 2017, semifinal match with New York Red Bulls.
Following a winless four game stretch in late July and early August in which they were outscored 13-5, FC Cincinnati found their stride over the remainder of their season, collecting points in seven of eight games. With only three home games remaining on their schedule, FCC went 2-1-2 on the road to earn a USL playoff berth with a 12-10-10 record, good enough to eke out a sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Paired against #3 seed Tampa Bay Rowdies, FC Cincinnati bowed out of the of the 2017 USL Playoffs with a 3-0, first-round loss in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Saturday’s match between Republic FC and FC Cincinnati will kick off at 1:00 p.m. at Nippert Stadium. Updates will be provided via Twitter at @FCCincinnati or using #CINvSAC.
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