This week, FC Cincinnati is playing their final away match before their home opener April 15th. The boys will be traveling to the Eastern side of Pennsylvania to take on Bethlehem Steel FC, the Philadelphia Union’s “2” team. Cincinnati comes into the game fresh off their first victory of the year, while Bethlehem is coming off a disappointing 3-2 loss to Rochester.
Records: FC Cincinnati (1-0-1, 3 pts.), Bethlehem (0-0-1, 0 pts.)
Know your Enemy – Ref Assignments:
REF: JORGE GONZALEZ, AR1: Daniel Richman, AR2: Kevin Lock, 4TH: Lorant Varga
March to Matchday #3 at Bethlehem Steel FC – Podcast
Join host Bryan Weigel @bryanweigel as he welcomes Special Guest Evan Villella from @BrotherlyGame and @ECCPOD for the newest addition to Cincinnati Soccer Talk lineup. March to Matchday will provide an in-depth preview of the upcoming opponent as well as how FC Cincinnati can best defeat them. This show will hopefully fit in your drive time to work, to the pub on game day or lead you right up to game time. We hope you enjoy!
5 Things to Know – Bethlehem Steel FC
Philadelphia Union Part Deux- As stated above, Bethlehem is Philadelphia’s “MLS 2” side. During the first game of the season, the Union sent 8 players to Bethlehem, including former USMNT player Charlie Davies, improving the quality on the field. That contingency helped Steel FC to come back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game 2-2, only to lose the lead for good in the 88th minute against Rochester. How many of those players will participate this week? Check out the March to Matchday #3 for Special Guest Evan Villella’s thoughts on who may appear from the Union.
Invade the Box- During the offseason, FC Cincinnati signed a plethora of midfielders. These moves turned training into a competition for playing time, yet also providing Koch different options to utilize players talents against opponents. Through two games, FC Cincinnati’s attacking midfielders have struggled to create openings in opposing teams penalty area no matter the personnel we had on the field. Below are the two heat maps of our first two games, focusing on the attacking midfielders. One can see the opposing team’s penalty box needs to be infiltrated more by the midfielders, especially with a single forward formation. Our wingers need to run across the box towards defenders from time to time to create passing/dribbling lanes, mismatches, and confusion. Currently, the wingers are running straight down the sideline allowing the defense to acquire that added defender called the touchline. As much as width can create space in the middle, it can also remove attackers from the central portion of the field, we need to find a balance. With a 4-2-3-1 formation, the only central player is Djiby Fall and the wingers have become strictly distributors, they need to become attackers as well. Attack the box boys!
The Deep Blue (& Orange) Sea- The season has only begun and FC Cincinnati already has a few key components put on the sideline. It has been stated that Austin Berry is on concussion protocol after taking a nasty fall in Pittsburgh. While Daryl Fordyce and Eric Stevenson have both been out of training recently with unknown injuries. Weideman filled the CAM role for Fordyce and there are a number of defensive variations available to our manager to deal with the Berry injury. Cincinnati’s depth this year is already helping the team in a way that was not tested last year. Let us hope the injury bug is not a trend.
Quality not Quantity- We all loved Eric Stevenson’s cracker of a goal in the playoffs last year, but goals from that distance are difficult to come by. Most goals are created by breaking down a defender or through a counter, where you have the numbers in your favor. This year, Cincinnati has yet to break a defender down or create a counter where they have the numbers. However, the boys in blue and orange have not been afraid to shoot and the numbers show. FC Cincinnati is tied for 5th in the league in shots, with 31, but have only scored 2 goals. Of those 31 shots, only 7 have been on target and our conversion rate is a measly 6.5%, which ranks 23rd in the league [league conversion Avg. is 10%]. Half the league has created at least 2 goals on fewer shots than FCC. Six more teams have more shots with more goals than FCC. That’s 21 teams that are more efficient than FCC. While 4 of the 7 shots Cincinnati have had on goal have been outside the penalty area. Cincinnati needs to improve the quality of their shots and that quality will improve with penetration of the penalty area (discussed above). With the talent FC Cincinnati has, they should be able to create better opportunities and if they get on the board first the flow of the game will change in their favor.
Defensive Stance- Manager Alan Koch has a few new defensive pieces available to him. With the Berry injury, it will be interesting to see who is in the backline. The easy solution is to put Paul Nicholson in the center back for Berry. But with Justin Hoyte and Mele Temguia available and playing a Bethlehem Steel team, not a perceived strong opponent, we could easily see Hoyte as an outside back or Mele teaming in the center with Nicholson or Delbridge. I would not expect both of our newest signings to be out there together. Also, Pat McMahon could come in for Bahner to provide him rest for the upcoming homestand (3 games in 8 days).
Match Watch Parties
The supporters groups will be taking up residence at their favorite match viewing locations. See the list below for more information.
Die Innenstadt: Rhinehaus – 119 E 12th St, Cincinnati, OH 45202
The Pride: Ladder 19 – 2701 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45219 – Potluck beginning at 3 p.m.
The Bailey Bastards: Bucket Heads – 6507 Harrison Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45247 – Kegs N’ Eggs beginning at 9 a.m.