USL Cup or Championship Shield?

What’s more impressive; USL Cup or Regular Season Title?

FC Cincinnati is currently sitting, not only atop the Eastern Conference but also the whole USL with 66 points. The next team behind them in either conference is Orange County SC with 57 points coming from 30 games played and FCC has a game in hand. For FCC, they are on pace to not only lead the league in points but also clinch homefield advantage throughout the USL cup.

For those of you who are unaware (as I found out while writing this blog post) the USL does award the team with the most points at the end of the regular season the USL Championship Shield; alike the MLS Supporter’s Shield. As it sits, FCC’s chances are high to win the Championship Shield and riding this 18-game streak without a defeat has many supporters over the hype of leading the league in points and wanting more; a USL Cup.

 Red Bulls II Raising the 2016 USL Cup

Red Bulls II Raising the 2016 USL Cup

Cincinnati has not had the best of luck with pro teams and the playoffs. The last time the Cincinnati Bengals won a playoff game was in 1990 and the last time the Cincinnati Reds won a playoff game was 1995. As you can see, it has been awhile, and Cincinnatians are hungry for a playoff win. It begs the question, what is more impressive for the Orange and Blue, the USL regular season Championship Shield or winning the USL Cup?

When it comes to playoffs in Cincinnati, many supporters tend to feel this way:

 You Kidding me?!?!

You Kidding me?!?!

As someone who has not been a Cincinnatian long enough to cringe when I hear the word playoffs, I figured it was best I reach out to some supporters and ask how they would answer. Pete Wietmarschen brought up a very good point. He answered with, “The soccer fan in me says USL Championship Shield but the American in me says USL Cup.” In many of the major soccer leagues around the world, there are no playoffs or post-season tournaments specific to the league. The team who leads in points at the end of the season, are awarded the champions of the league. Here in the United States, I cannot think of a single league that does not have some sort of post-season tournament. It is for this reason that many Americans do not place a lot of weight on regular season titles.

 Real Monarchs Raising the 2017 USL Championship Shield

Real Monarchs Raising the 2017 USL Championship Shield

There is no doubt that Cincinnatians love their sports but nowadays, they are dying for a team that can make a run in the playoffs. There is no doubt that supporters will be ecstatic if FCC hoist the Championship Shield, but I imagine many to be disappointed if we do not end our final season in the USL with a cup win. For now, supporters will focus on the remainder of the regular season and fight for homefield advantage throughout the USL Cup. Though FCC is 15 points ahead of 2nd place Louisville City FC, there are only 7 points separating the 6th place Bethlehem Steel and 13th place Charlotte Independence.

Please note: All statistics gathered prior to the completion of all USL matches played on 09/19/18

Mike Madanat