FC Cincinnati hosted Crystal Palace in an international friendly in front of an extremely loud, sold out, Nippert Stadium crowd of 35,061. Even though Palace walked away with a 0-2 victory there were many positive signs and good plays from Cincinnati.
The most important thing is the off the field impact for FC Cincinnati to bring in a team that played in the FA Cup final only three months ago. This is on top of the fact they are averaging 15,665 fans for each of their 10 previous home games. Incredible crowd support from the fans in attendance made this match an experience for the home players and the closet thing to a Premier League match for the guests. Palace coach Alan Pardew commented on the atmosphere saying, “It’s not often you get an atmosphere like that in the preseason, not actually in a league game.”
The gates opened 90 minutes before kickoff opposed to the normal 60. A large portion of the crowd showed up before the gates would normally open and the supporters section known as “The Bailey” was full an hour before kickoff.
The two merchandise tents had lines of about 200 people deep shortly after gates opened and there were long lines until the match started. Concession lines were packed as well with the main stands and beer stands being deep as well.
For the present, this game showed that there was a quality team in Cincinnati that is able to create chances against an opponent, even though they were unable to score. A few times the build up play was fantastic, but the final pass or touch was missing to put the ball in the back of the net.
It also proved that FC Cincinnati has a great soccer fan base and should continue to pack the stadium for the rest of the season. If the team continues to play well, there could even be a home playoff game if they stay in the top four in their conference.
For the future, this could be a huge stepping-stone on the push to move up to the MLS. The ability to bring a club in from the Barclay’s Premier League and impress with the way the club is run is absolutely incredible. Pardew said, “Personally I really hope we can come back here, if not next year soon I want to experience it again.” The fact that a respected English manager wants to come back is a great stepping stone for FC Cincinnati. With the coverage that this club has been getting overseas from The Guardian, there is a real possibility of getting another big club to come here and play. The Philadelphia Union hosted Palace and they were only able to draw 12,881, almost a third of what Cincinnati brought in, meaning other clubs may want come see what this club from Cincinnati is all about.