Match Preview

Match Preview: Fabián returns as Union travel to FC Cincinnati


What’s better than getting your first win of the season? How about nabbing three points right before you get your Designated Player back from suspension.

That’s the situation the Union are in as they prepare to face FC Cincinnati for the first time on Saturday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m. ET on PHL17.

Marco Fabian’s return to the lineup comes after the Union knocked off Columbus Crew 3-0 behind two goals from David Accam. The Ghanaian’s big performance came a week after debutante Brenden Aaronson notched his first professional goal against Atlanta United in a 1-1 draw.

This is a familiar tale for Union fans: New faces step up when the club needs it most. That ‘next man up’ attitude is one Jim Curtin pushes on hard, and it led to Cory Burke’s emergence in 2018 up front and Mark McKenzie’s rise in the back line.

FC Cincy also needs a variety of players to step up if they are going to succeed, and thus far they have gotten big performances from a lot of names.

Kenny Saief and Kekuta Manneh have contributed goals to support Fanendo Adi, and Forrest Lasso put in an important shift stepping into the fray for Kendall Waston last weekend.

Additionally, Leonardo Bertone has provided just enough creativity through midfield to keep the ball moving, and this has allowed Cincy to keep a stout defense while producing seven goals from seven different players.

The visiting Union are hoping to become the first team to knock off Cincy in their own back yard. Portland succumbed to the noise of Nippert Stadium, but Philly arrives with Fabian available and Fafa Picault producing chances at a high rate, pointing to a first goal in the near future. Picault is 8th in the league in Expected Goals per game for players with at least two complete 90s and with penalties excluded. In short, if he’s on the pitch Fafa is making things happen.

The big question for the Union is whether they can keep a clean sheet against FC Cincinnati’s big bodies. The home side has two set piece goals already and their size will be tough to answer on Saturday. The Union need to try and control the ball as often as possible, and the fullback positioning will be key to controlling the flanks and ensuring Cincy can’t just dump crosses into the box for Adi, Waston, and the rest of their danger men.

Tune in on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on PHL17 to hear Sebastien Le Toux’s studio broadcast debut, and cheer on the Union as the make their inaugural trip to Cincinnati to face the newest member of Major League Soccer.