So you want to go out to an FC Cincinnati game? Follow our step-by-step guide on how to do it right.
Next Home Match - Saturday July 23 @ 4pm hosting Loisville City
Tickets - $10-25, $5 for students
Broadcast - CW, Youtube, ESPN 1530
Anything special about this match - Dirty River Derby Part III. We got to win by two goals to get that trophy. It's a white-out! That means wear white.
Step 1 - Buy a ticket
Where should I sit? There's basically two types of seats: regular seats and the Bailey. Regular seating is just that. It's got better views and an assigned seat that you can actually sit in. The thing that separates going to a soccer game from any other sporting event is the supporters' section, that's the Bailey. Drums, Smoke, tifo, and non-stop chanting are features of any fans sections at any soccer ground and the Bailey won't be any different. Fans in this area are expected to stand and cheer on the team the whole time. One difference this week is that you will need a physical, printed ticket to get into the Bailey.
While it sounds intense, you should really give it a go. The point is to be intimidating to the other team, not our own people. The chants are pretty easy to learn as they're being sung, you can always stand away from the front of the section if you need a break, and that's where you'll meet a ton of new friends. Knowing everything about soccer, our team, or using the correct terminology isn't important. All the supporters are there to do one thing, support the team, not show off their bona fides. All that soccer hooligan stuff you hear about only really happens in the States in places with supercool ultraz like New York. I would highly encourage you to get one of these tickets.
You can also buy some merchandise. I'd support a local shop, Cincy Shirts, and buy one at the stadium. If you don't have time to swing by, you can always pick one up at the match. If you don't feel like it or just haven't yet (like me), then just wear blue or orange.
Step 2 - A Little Research
You definitely don't have to but it's usually worth looking into the pregame match reports. The club, the Enquirer, and Cincy Soccer Talk put one out for each match. If you can't be bothered, Mitch is the keeper, Berry is the captain, hometown hero, and a defender and Bone is the playmaker. The coach is John Harkes. For those of you not old enough, he is the Landon Donovan of the 90s. If you want a full roster with numbers and positions, go here and save the photo to your phone.
Pro Tip - If you don't even know where to start with following and understanding the game, pick one player (preferably from this starting XI and with distinctive hair/shoes so you know they're a regular first-teamer and identifiable). Read a bit about them before the match and follow them as they play. Watch how they interact with everyone. It will be easier than trying to follow 22 interchanging players throughout the game. Add from there.
They've kept the same lineup for the first few matches of the season, the 4-3-3 in the picture (4 defenders, 3 midfielders, and 3 forwards) but have also used a 4-4-2 recently, introducing Omar Cummings as a starter. This formation is designed for stability in the midfield and to cover the entire field while maintaining passing lanes to each other. The challenge is that it requires good coordination and versatile players. That's all the soccer mumbo jumbo. If you want more, go here and check out this awesome writeup by FourFourTwo.
If you're planning on sitting in the Bailey, check out this page for the songs to know. You should be singing.
Step 3 - Pregame
Do you want to do this thing the right way and have the most amount of fun possible? Good. Then before you even get to Nippert, head over to Mecklenburg Gardens or The Brass Tap for pre-gaming with the supporters' groups. If you can't decide which one you like more, have a look at our interviews with Die Innenstadt and The Pride. You really can't go wrong with either one. Die Innenstadt's event is going to be a bit more interactive as they're starting at Mecklenburg Gardens in Clifton and marching over to the stadium around 2:30. This is a great opportunity to meet new people, see how inviting everyone is, and to get involved if you'd like to help build something.
This weekend is going to be particularly soccer-filled and crazy with events happening the night before and extra long pregames. Check out Cincy Soccer Talk's list of everything going on here.
If you want to go to a different pub, there will be shuttles from some of the other pub partners, specifically Molly Malone's shuttle will be leaving at 3pm and picking up half an hour after the game and Hap's.
Drinking beer and hanging out prior to the match is a pretty integral part to the whole soccer experience but if you're looking for a more family friendly experience, come early and check out all the stuff around the stadium. Mcmillan/Calhoun Streets are full of great food options. Some of my favorites are Izen's Drunken Bento (1/2 price sushi) or Keystone Grill (Mac & Cheese). The Pridewill be having a tailgate at Adriatico's on the same street. The campus is also known for its architecture and labyrinth of sidewalks (I've gotten lost before). If you have kids, Sheakley Lawn has been designated the Kids Zone and there will be activities there before the match starting at 6:30.
Parking in Clifton is terrible! There are a couple of garages ($10) and street parking is free after 6 p.m. on Saturday and all-day Sunday. You must get there early. Check out the clubs writeup on the parking situation here.
Pro tip - When the club tweets out the lineup (always one hour before kickoff), screenshot it. This will save you from looking it up every fifteen minutes.
Step 4 - Go Inside
Make your way inside. Gates open 60 minutes before kickoff. If you're sitting in the Bailey, march in with both supporters' groups. Wait! Did you remember to wear blue or orange? Ok, awesome. If not, at the very least don't wear the other team's color's (Loisville's colors are purple and gold) and maybe buy a scarf or something.
If you aren't going in with the supporters, grab a beer behind the student section (the curved end) or by section 127 or 105 (conveniently highlighted in the map). There will also be beer and snack vendors walking around selling. Make sure you aren't bringing in any contraband. All your vuvuzelas and selfie sticks gotta stay outside where they belong.
Step 5 - During The Game
This part is pretty easy. Watch the game. Even if you don't understand all the tactical minutiae, seeing the ball whizz around and the constant running is enthralling. Standard soccer rules apply (no hands) except that USL allows five substitutions (weird). If you don't already get it, don't worry about offsides. I'm pretty sure most referees don't even understand it. The best part about soccer is that its pretty uninterrupted two halves of 45 minutes plus of action. The downside is if you get up to get a beer, you'll probably miss something. The biggest difference to someone who isn't used to watching live soccer is the replays. They won't happen nearly as often, won't be as clear, and if you're in the Bailey, you won't get to see them at all (they're behind you). So do try to pay attention.
If you're in the Bailey, you'll be expected to stand the entire game and join in the chants. There will be drums and flags and, if we score, smoke. Most of the songs are pretty simple and you can join in as you get them. Per requests from DI leadership, do not try to start the "I Believe" chant. Honestly, all of us in the soccer community love it, it's just... a bit overplayed. Let's save it for the National Teams.
Halftime there'll be a big mob to get more drinks/food and the bathroom, just like every other sporting event, so plan ahead. During those fifteen minutes, the club will have a penalty shootout with two local teams.
That's it. Have fun. There's no wrong way to be a fan. Oh, we hate Louisville.