This From the Sidelines column appeared in the July 27 edition of the News Journal…
This past weekend I had an awesome experience at the University of Cincinnati when my wife and I went to see Ohio’s newest pro soccer team – FC Cincinnati.
In their inaugural season, FCC has already made quite an impact in the United Soccer League (USL). They currently sit near the top of the Eastern Conference standings, and on Saturday they defeated Louisville City 2-0 to become the recipients of the first-ever “River Cities Cup,” which will become an annual competition between these two rival clubs.
Louisville came out on top of their first meeting with Cincy, coming in as the visitors and taking a 3-2 victory. City then hosted FCC in June, with both teams holding each other scoreless in a 0-0 draw. Back at U of C’s Nippert Stadium on Saturday, Cincinnati thrilled the home crowd with their clean sheet win, taking an overall series lead of 4 goals to 3 to become cup champions in their first year of existence.
And this absolutely is pro soccer, by the way. A couple of years back the USL entered into a partnership with Major League Soccer (MLS), which allowed it to double its size, growing to include a total of 29 teams in 19 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces in 2016. This year alone saw the introduction of six new teams, including FC Cincinnati.
As for my personal experience watching a USL competition live for the first time, it was great! Despite the heat, the crowd inside Nippert Stadium was large and enthusiastic throughout the entire game. It was a very fun and exciting atmosphere, and I am eager to return, hopefully at least one more time before this season comes to an end.
I found out about FCC earlier this summer when I saw a Facebook post by Corbin girls soccer Head Coach Hannah Goins. She had gone to a game and said that it was a very enjoyable experience. I wanted to go check them out for myself, so I ordered four tickets to their July 23rd match with Louisville City. My initial plan was to take my wife, my brother and my brother’s girlfriend, but when my brother said he couldn’t go I began asking others who I thought might want the extra tickets. Luckily, Whitley County girls soccer Head Coach Kelly Sawyers was able to go with her father, which worked out really good for them because they both just recently celebrated birthdays. It made for a nice birthday trip for father and daughter, so I was happy that I could help make that possible for them.
My wife is not a huge soccer fan, but she commented several times after the game that she really enjoyed herself, and would like to attend another match sometime in the near future as well.
Until Saturday, the only games that I had ever seen live were high school or youth league contests. To see soccer played on this level was just a really cool experience, and it honestly topped any other pro sporting event that I have ever been to. I liked it that much.
So, if you are able to make the trip north on I-75, I strongly suggest that you consider checking out FC Cincinnati. Even if you are just a casual fan of the sport, I bet you will thoroughly enjoy the sights and sounds inside Nippert Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati. I had never been on that campus before attending this game, but after seeing some of it I can understand why so many folks choose to go to school there. It’s just a neat place, and is somewhere that I could see myself visiting many times in the future.
If you would like to get more information on FCC, visit them online at fccincinnati.com. You can also look them up on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. To find out more about Louisville City FC go to louisvillecityfc.com, and for more on the USL go to uslsoccer.com.