MILFORD, Ohio — Spencer Richey was thrilled to make his MLS debut for FC Cincinnati in their 1-1 draw against Atlanta United, but he’s more excited about playing in front of the Nippert Stadium crowd this Sunday.
“I tweeted about this.” said the goalkeeper. “The game had just finished in Atlanta and I was already thinking about how cool Nippert was going to be on Sunday. It’s one thing even a couple years ago when I was watching from afar, during the Open Cup run, but to experience it firsthand last season. I can only imagine the MLS home opener. It’s going to be rockin’ and it will be a fun atmosphere, no doubt.”
what a resilient performance from the guys in front of me tonight. already thinkin about nippert on sunday. onto portland ⛽️⛽️⛽️— Spencer Richey (@spencerichey18) March 11, 2019
What’s so special about Nippert Stadium?
The 104-year-old venue sits on the campus of the University of Cincinnati and is a unique mix of old and new architecture.
The stadium is a temporary home for FCC, who played three USL seasons there before moving to MLS. The expansion team will remain there until construction of their soccer-specific stadium is completed in 2021.
The record-setting crowds that fill Nippert are the real story, though, and those fans are a big reason why FC Cincinnati earned the 24th spot in MLS.
“It’s an amazing stadium,” said head coach Alan Koch. “Just the stadium itself is an amazing venue to play in. But our fan base is incredible. It’s a big part of why we are who we are, and it’s why we are where we are today. I think anyone who hasn’t been to the stadium or watched one of the games in the past is in for a treat, because it’s a very special place to play.
“We went and played in a special place in Atlanta on Sunday, we played is a special place in Seattle the week before, and Cincinnati is another one of those special places that we have in the American soccer landscape.”
The largest crowd to ever watch an FC Cincy match at Nippert was 35,061, when the club hosted English Premier League side Crystal Palace in 2016. The field has been widened since, and the capacity for soccer is now 32,250.
Sunday’s match is nearly sold out, and if Nippert reaches its max, the crowd will surpass the highest mark the team set in USL: 31,478 against Indy Eleven on Sept. 29, 2018.
“It’s going to be an amazing crowd,” said Adi. “We encourage them to come out and believe that we are going to take all three points. That’s the most important thing for us as players, to make sure the fans go back home happy after the game. I know the fans are really rowdy and motivated for this game on Sunday. All we can say is that we are training hard and working toward three points.”