Week 2 Growler Cup- Pittsburgh vs. FC Cincinnati

On the heels of a 2-1 loss in Charleston, the Orange & Blue look to rebound against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The club had success against last season with a 2-0-1 record against Pitt with 3 shutouts. Coach Koch and his squad would love nothing better than to come away with 3 points and another shutout. Here’s how members of our staff this Saturday will go down.

Ken Hoetker

I think our manager will recognize we need a change from the Charleston game and replace a couple of the players who started the first game. Mansaray has to get the start in the left midfield. By doing that, FCC has a player who is willing to go at Pittsburgh backs, something this team has been lacking. This will provide pressure from the left side that was missing game 1 and it will hopefully create more space for the right side by not allowing Pittsburgh to slide over to our right side more. Another change I hope to see is FCC outside backs not getting too far forward, I think we are not healthy enough to leave Harry and Berry alone in the back and too many times Charleston created chances on a quick counter. I believe we play a little conservative in the back and allow our offensive pieces to create the chances needed to break the back line of Pittsburgh. We score first and cause the Riverhounds to change their game plan, this opens them up for the counter and we score again. However, Pittsburgh scores one late and that is how the game ends 2-1. FCC first victory of the year is powered by goals from Fordyce and Fall!

Yosief Tzeghai

After a tough loss in Charleston, I believe positive things are on the horizon for FC Cincinnati. They face a less formidable defense this week in Pittsburgh and FCC will get their first points of the season against the Riverhounds this week. One key difference this year for Pittsburgh is that Keeper Zach Steffen has been promoted to starting keeper for Columbus Crew SC. That will definitely benefit FCC in finishing their chances this match. I am interested to see if any changes are made to the starting lineup. It is known that signing Justin Hoyte will compete for a starting spot, but I doubt the midweek signing will be in a starting role so soon. If we see similar offensive output I’d look for coach Koch to input his substitutions earlier in the match to give those subs a greater amount of time to impact the match. Regardless of any starting lineup changes, I feel confident in saying the FC Cincinnati Knifey Soccer Lion King Soccerball Kicking Good Guys will defeat Pittsburgh 2-1 on Saturday.

Brad Weigel

I don’t really know what to say after last week. Heading into the match I felt good about our chances of getting at least a point but was mistakenly wrong. Charleston bunkered allowing us to have most of the possession but was deadly on the counter and set pieces. This week we might get a team a little more willing to come out and play. The new look Riverhounds led by Corey Hertzog scored 3 goals against the 2016 Champion and best defense in NY Red Bulls 2. They held 49% of the possession so there might be a little more space to play than against Charleston. Within that space, I’d like to see Kenney Walker and Aodhan Quinn get more into the attack and link the play between the back 4 and Djiby Fall. Too often they sat too deep which meant our only offense was hoofing balls into the box like last season. Djiby is of enough quality that he can beat the defenders even when surrounded but it’s an extremely unreliable strategy to employ over 32 games. If they can connect the play, it will allow the attacking midfielders to play off each other better and pull some defenders off Djiby. In addition, you might see a personnel change on the left side with Dacres or Mansaray to bring some more dynamism to the attack. Nonetheless, we have the talent to beat Pittsburgh and with these changes, I think there are 3 points in our future. My prediction is that these defenses are an aberration and the Berry/Delbridge combo will team up for our first Widmer’s Clean Sheet!

Bill Wolf

Only one game into the season, it is difficult to really know who you’re playing. Pittsburgh played the USL Champion New York Red Bulls II to a 3-3 draw. Does this mean that Pittsburgh is a much better team? Or does it mean that New York has dropped off since last year? Or maybe both teams, like Cincinnati, haven’t quite got the defenders all working in unison yet. There is some decent statistics worth exploring though that perhaps give a little more insight. FCC had 13 fouls vs. only 10 for Pittsburgh, but Pittsburgh tallied 5 yellow cards while Cincinnati came away without a yellow. Is this an indication that Pittsburgh played beyond their level? They will need to slow down a bit if they don’t want half their team suspended on card accumulation. Another stat to look at is passing. The Orange and Blue ranked 5th in the league in passing while the Riverhounds ranked 15th. This amounted to almost 25% more passes for Cincinnati. Looking at accuracy, both teams tumble in the stats with FCC still leading ranked at 10th vs Pittsburgh at 22nd. Where does this leave us? Reading into these stats we could extrapolate that the Pittsburgh defense is not yet gelled. They did well against a tough opponent, but they did it by playing extremely physical and receiving a lot of yellow cards which they won’t want to continue to do. And we’d expect that FCC will be better at possessing the ball. Put that together with the fact that Cincinnati had Pitts number last year getting 3 shutouts. I predict that we’ll continue that trend into this season and blank the Hounds once again. With their shaky defense and our increased attacking options, I see a 2-0 victory for FCC.


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