The game this Saturday vs. Nashville is officially 2 weeks from the kick off of the USL season. Coach Koch has indicated that he will take the next step towards a starting XI roster, playing one group of players 70 minutes and another group 20 minutes. Against a stacked Nashville team, this could be the first real indication of who will be in the FC Cincinnati starting XI. Cincinnati Soccer Talk decided to play armchair coach and discuss who our starting XI would be.
Bill Wolf- @billwwolf
Bahner Keinan Lasso Smith
Manu Naz Haber
Wow. This is quite difficult. I feel for Coach Koch but obviously, it’s a great problem to have. Even a week ago, I would have answered this differently but players are working hard and proving why they are on the squad. There are at least 3 or 4 changes I could make to this and wouldn’t think a thing about it.
Haber has played incredibly well in the last 2 games. This edged him up for me. 2 assists against NKU and the goal against Indy. A ton a speed, great foot skills and a “go to goal” attitude. In some of the early games, Bone looked really good. His pairing with Manu is extremely good. However, I think Naz pairs better with Ryan and my lean would be to focus on the spine first, so Naz edges out Bone. I love Welshman, so quick, turns on a dime, will put any part of his body on a ball to score. Tough choice, but I gave Tomi the start. He’s a little stronger in the air and mostly just gave him the nod for his goal 15 minutes into his first game with FCC. So many choices in the back line as well. Dekel for me has earned the start, this made Bahner the choice on right over Hoyte since Dekel can bring the experience to the back line. So many great LB options as well, but I felt that Smith has been the most consistent.
Brad Weigel- @bradleysweigel
Bahner Keinan Lasso Laing
Ledesma Albadawi McLaughlin
We knew going into the season this team was set up to have 2 men for every position and that Coach Koch was going to have a lot of options. With the fullbacks, it was a toss-up for me. I think you will see a lot of rotation, especially with midweek games. I’m confident in all 5 options we have. Right now, I just think it comes down to who pairs better with who. Does Matt Bahner provide the defensive cover when Laing goes forward on the left? Who works better with Jimmy McLaughlin, Lance Laing or Blake Smith? Heck, you may even see Laing move up and play LW and have a different pairing between Smith and Josu. I think the defensive midfield is set with Kenney Walker & Richie Ryan. The other position I could see as a toss-up would be up top. Do we like the height of Ameobi or the mobility of Welshman? Do we need a little of both and go with Konig? I think Ameobi now but I bet we’ll see a lot of all 3 throughout the season.
Nick Seuberling- @nickseuberling
Hoyte Keinan Lasso Smith
Ledesma Albadawi Laing
I think that today this is FC Cincinnati’s best lineup. I absolutely fell in love watching Lance Laing burn guys up and down the left side of the pitch down in Florida. I know he can be used as a LB at times as well, but I think we’re going to want to get this guy forward as much as possible. Can he get forward at LB? Sure. But I’d rather keep him up there. The question mark for me is at GK and Forward. The 3 keepers on this roster are fantastic and so are the 3 forwards. Welshman’s pace is electric and I look forward to watching him gash USL defenses this season.
Ken Hoetker- @khoetker
Hoyte Keinan Lasso Laing
Manu Naz Haber
So many options Coach has at his disposal, it is almost as if he could throw names at the wall and the first 11 names that stuck would be his starters and everyone would be fine with that. However, I envision Tomi getting the start at the top, he has the right size and style that would align with our possession based attack (Welshman will get time there and on the wing I think). In the midfield I think Haber is the guy that has helped himself the most this preseason and has pushed his way into a starting role. He will be paired with Manu and Naz. At CDM I can’t see anyone other than Walker and Ryan starting, Seymore will spell relief here, so don’t forget about him. In the backline I put Laing at LB , although I think he will be used more as a wingback overlapping with the LW. With this tactic in mind I selected Hoyte over Bahner because I think Hoyte will hang back and play more as a third CB with Keinan and Lasso. Newton gets the nod in goal, but I feel any of the three can more than play the spot, Goalie wars every week!