The Away End | FC Cincinnati with Zach Blandford


New York City Football Club take on FC Cincinnati this weekend at TQL Stadium. 

For this edition of 'The Away End' presented by Berkeley College & Rennert International, we spoke to Zach Blandford, secretary for The Pride, an FC Cincinnati supporters group.

Hi Zach, thanks for speaking with us. How long have you been a fan of FC Cincinnati?

I have been a soccer fan my entire life, and am a day-one season ticket holder for FC Cincinnati. Sports for me are about community and civic pride. I love Cincinnati, it is a place I am very proud to be from and love deeply. I was all in the day FC Cincinnati was announced as a USL expansion team.

What has been your highlight in that time?

The highlight, for me, was the 2017 Open Cup run. It was absolute magic - beating the Crew as a lower-division team and then beating the Chicago Fire on national TV was so unbelievably magical. We announced ourselves to the country that year and, in many ways, it planted the seeds for the club and supporter culture you see today. The home winning streak to start this year comes close to topping it though.

How would you evaluate their 2023 season so far?
This season has been fantastic so far. Lots of hard work and dedication through lean years paying off in spectacular fashion. The atmosphere at TQL Stadium has been fantastic and just gets better and better. It is really exciting to see. But the job is not done yet.

What are your hopes for the team for the rest of the season?

Losing in the semifinals of the US Open Cup was an obvious disappointment but it does not change my hopes for what this team can achieve. We want the Supporters' Shield. We want the MLS Cup. If they don't want to open the door for us we will kick it in.

What do you think will be the deciding factor in the game on Saturday?

The deciding factor in the game, and in the season, for FC Cincinnati will be unlocking the high potential of the offense. Brandon Vazquez and Lucho Acosta have obviously shown their quality in this league. But getting the most out of them and unlocking the extra gear Aaron Boupendza can bring to the table will be critical. If we can start scoring at an increased level there is no ceiling for this team.

For any fans that might be in the area for the game on Saturday are there any locations you suggest they check out before the game? 

There are a lot of good locations around the stadium! I recommend taking the streetcar (it is free!) around to check out Over-The-Rhine and The Banks - especially Smale Park and Washington Park. Supporters meet at various bars around the neighborhood and march to the match together through Washington Park. Fun fact if you go visit the riverfront: the Roebling Bridge was designed as a prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge, so it will probably look very similar to home for folks traveling for the match.

Sign-up for MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app - and never miss a moment of the 2023 season. Stream every regular-season, playoff, and Leagues Cup match. Every Screen. No Blackouts.