Heading into the match against Real Salt Lake on Friday, FC Cincinnati supporters were looking for the team to make a statement. Winless in three games and without a goal from open play over that time, many expected FCC to come up with a statement win. So, what happened?
Breaking down RSL’s first goal
All of the goals that Real Salt Lake scored can be attributed heavily to individual errors. However, there were also some major positioning deficiencies as well. RSL’s first goal began when Alvas Powell and Victor Cruz were in a tussle with Damir Kreilach. During this scrap, Leonardo Bertone and Roland Lamah were looking on instead of tracking back into the proper defensive positioning on the chance that Kreilach came through with the ball. Powell actually won the ball, so crisis averted, right?
Wrong — after winning the ball Powell makes a careless back pass that leaves Nick Hagglund stretching into a 50-50 tackle. Once again, expecting Hagglund to win the ball, the FCC defenders go into ball watching mode. Kendall Waston fails to drop in behind his partner to provide cover, and both Victor Ulloa and Powell himself do not continue their recovery runs.
As it turns out, Hagglund did not win the ball. Instead, the ball took a deflection, and the RSL attacker was able to maintain possession. The FCC defense then went into panic mode with Powell, Hagglund, and Waston all trying to close down the ball. One of the defenders should have made a recovery run to the center of the box. Mathieu Deplagne continued to look on not concentrating on his task of picking up runners in the box.
First Half Stoppage Time – Another Mental Lapse
RSL’s second tally came soon after the first. It began with Rusnak dribbling on the counter-attack. The FCC defenders were well poised to prevent penetration, with Hagglund and Waston dropping furiously toward their own net. However, Powell chose to confront the ball near the midway line. In coach speak we call this the “line of confrontation.” This imaginary line is the point on the field at which you think the player with the ball is more dangerous than the player running beyond you. As Powell pulled up to stop Rusnak, he cooly played the ball to Corey Baird, leaving Powell in no-man’s land, and Waston and Hagglund on an island defending three against two.
Frustration Leads to a Needless Tackle
The final RSL goal came from the penalty spot, courtesy of a rash tackle by Mathieu Deplagne. As Jefferson Savarino picked up the ball and dribbled toward the goal line there was no need for Deplagne to make a challenge. Savarino was headed away from the FCC goal and Victor Ulloa was in a good covering position. However, Deplagne chose to attempt the tackle and needlessly fouled the RSL midfielder. Though this mistake rests squarely on the shoulders of the French defender, it is worth noting that both Bertone and Powell had already checked out mentally from the play and would have been of little help had Savarino been able to play the ball through the FCC penalty area.
The Mental Side of Losing
@fccincytactalk (Brad Gough) for @CincySoccerTalk
Brad Gough is a director of coaching for Northern Kentucky Soccer Academy.