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When An Immovable Object Meets An Unstoppable Force: Fire @ Cincinnati, USOC Round of 16 Preview

The Fire are now coming up against a team that has the potential to kill giants

MLS: Orlando City SC at Chicago Fire
The best pictures are the ones with a lone opponent extremely out of focus.
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: We’ve changed our How To Watch info to reflect the game’s move to ESPN, as made official earlier today by Taylor Twellman.

Now on a 9-game unbeaten streak (10 if you count the USOC), the Fire are on fire. It’s a simple fact at this point. After an amazing hat-trick by David Accam (the 9th in Fire history), this is certainly “riding high.” But now we have to face our next opponent without two key members from that game— Accam and Dax McCarty. It’s going to be tough, but the Fire are on a massive wave that could possibly carry them through. Of course, every “Goliath” has a “David.”

Cincinnati is one of the stranger stories in American soccer. No one can really figure out how they regularly outdraw around eight MLS teams (including the Fire), but they have an amazing fan base. Aside from their fan base, Cincinnati is largely average, sitting at 6th in the Eastern Conference of the USL. They show the greatest strength in defense, where they feature former Fire rookie of the year Austin Berry. Let’s look at some highlights now, shall we?

vs. Charleston Battery (USL)

vs. Columbus Crew (USOC)

vs. St. Louis FC (USL)

Three Keys

Home-Field Advantage

The first thing that anyone will say about this Cincinnati team is their crowd is massive. Playing at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium, they are allowed a little over 35,000 seats of the total 40,000. They regularly match that. This is more than most NBA and NHL teams. There will be a crowd on hand for this game so big that ESPN decided they should probably cover it. The Fire will not only be in front of more fans than they get at home, but enough fans that it was basically required for ESPN to step in and take over coverage.

“Fire Rejects”

The two major players for Cincinnati just so happen to be two very familiar faces: Austin Berry and Corben Bone. While you probably only vaguely remember Bone, the 2010 13th overall pick, you should definitely remember Berry. He was the Fire’s last ROY and even got a bobblehead (I still have mine, although it’s in about four parts)! He was drafted 10th overall in 2012, but was traded to Philly for GAM/TAM in 2014. He ended up in Korea and later floated back to his hometown of Cincy to join their new team. Both players have been cornerstones for the team, with Corben Bone having two assists and Berry captaining the side.

Try-Hard Time

While many other teams wouldn’t care and many other USL opponents wouldn’t get that big of a rise out of us, Cincinnati is different. I hope I’ve gotten it across. They are one of the biggest teams in the US and the Fire need to make sure they get past them, especially since it’s now on national TV. I expect a full lineup. Yes, we have a game against Vancouver on Saturday, but this seems a bit more important. If we start leading hard early, we take out key players. But we need this win if only to just save face and not be Columbus.

Projected Lineups

Chicago Fire

FC Cincinnati

How To Watch

Kickoff: Wednesday June 28th, 8:00PM EST/7:00PM CST

TV/Streaming: ESPN

So will the Fire keep riding their wave? Or will Cincinnati keep stomping on giants with their 12th man? Let us know what you think below.