This season has been one of ups and downs for both FC Cincinnati and Real Salt Lake. Both clubs have pulled off solid victories and have been dealt some hammering losses. When these two clubs face off, for the first time, it is certain that both are in need of a victory. After a tough loss on the road in Los Angeles, FC Cincinnati is hoping a return home to Nippert Stadium will get them back on track.
Looking back at the match against LAFC, there were numerous chances on goal that the Orange and Blue missed and it may have cost them a point. As expected, the defense was under attack against a potent LAFC, but they did well in managing the club most of the time. There were two defensive mistakes that ended the match but overall it was an above average performance. As if facing LAFC on the road was difficult enough, FC Cincinnati had to do it without a few of their starters. Missing were the likes of Fanendo Adi, Greg Garza, and Alvas Powell.
With the exception of the occasional injury or international callup, we have seen a consistent starting 11 from Alan Koch. Koch has relied on his veteran defensive core to take the leadership role and that has been the case all season. You can expect that to be the case once again, facing a club like Real Salt Lake. The likes of Kendall Waston and Greg Garza are key figures for an expansion team that will face many ups and downs during the season. Waston’s physical and imposing presence makes him the perfect captain and he has done nothing but live up to the expectations.
Moving forward, FCC will need to make the most of their opportunities. The last two matches, the offense has been unable to capitalize on chances that they were provided. From the Sporting Kansas City match to the LAFC match, Cincy has missed five, if not more, possible chances. Those missed chances have cost FCC points and they have fallen a few spots down the table. Points which could prove to be crucial as the season moves forward. The offense, which lacks depth must be able to convert their opportunities and stay healthy in a match against a perennial Western Conference power like Real Salt Lake.
Like a broken record, it keeps being stated that Kenny Saief is the key piece for this offense. Once again, that was the case in Los Angeles. During the match against LAFC last weekend, he was marked by numerous players at a time but was still able to create chances. Being on the road is always more difficult than being at home. Saief stepping up and being a chance creator like he was in LA, continues to be a shining light for this club. Saief has this ability and vision to make fantastic passes, he puts pressure on the defense forcing them in very difficult positions. It now falls on the other players to convert those chances that Saief creates to really get this team rolling.
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) April 14, 2019
Against a club like RSL, Saief will be an integral part of the FC Cincinnati attack once again. Saief and Mattocks have fantastic chemistry on the field and that could prove fruitful moving forward in the season. That chemistry will need to continue to grow and strengthen, along with other offensive players stepping up for FC Cincinnati to take the next step toward securing a playoff birth.
The opponent for this week is Real Salt Lake. A club that has a solid and successful history. Last season, RSL made the MLS Cup Western Conference Semifinals, falling 5-3 on aggregate to Sporting Kansas City. Real Salt Lake currently sits in the 8th spot in the west with seven points. Things have been incredibly difficult for RSL on the road, managing to only score only two goals and gathering a single point in four matches.
Coming into the season, RSL was expected to be around the middle of the pack and that is exactly where they currently sit. Since winning MLS Cup in 2009, RSL has made the playoffs in 7 out of the 9 years since. Last season, RSL snuck into the playoffs, as the 6th seed, just a point ahead of the LA Galaxy. They ruined another Los Angeles playoff dream, as they went into Banc of California Stadium and knocked off LAFC, 3-2, on their march to the conference semifinals.
Mike Petke took over before the 2017 season and currently is 30-32-13 as the manager for RSL. He has made the playoffs once in his two seasons there. On the field, RSL is lead by Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando and designated players Jefferson Savarino and Albert Rusnák. Rusnák leads the team with two goals. He is also the one to watch offensively for RSL and will need to step up if RSL wants to silence the Nippert Stadium faithful.
Statistically, FC Cincinnati has created the most chances (2.4) to 1 for RSL. Both clubs average at least nine shots per match, with just over 3 being on target. Both clubs don’t hold the ball in possession, as they have an average possession of 42% per match. If the match gets chippy, expect RSL to lose their cool much quicker than FC Cincinnati will. Real Salt Lake has doubled the yellow card average (2.6) of FCC (1.3) and that could be significant. With a hostile atmosphere to be expected, if things get tough and go south for the visitors, FC Cincinnati must be able to stay level-headed and out of the referee’s book. Salt Lake has already been on the receiving end of three red cards this season.
This match gives FC Cincinnati a chance to rebound and snag back a valuable three points. Real Salt Lake is a team that is ripe for the taking, based off their road form. Like FC Cincinnati, three points are crucial for RSL as they look to get into a playoff position early on in the season.