In the first match of the 2021 season, FC Cincinnati survived a trip to Tennessee with a 2-2 draw against Nashville SC. The Orange and Blue came out swinging, scoring two goals in the first 12 minutes. Luciano Acosta scored the opener, and Brenner followed up with a penalty mere minutes later. Nashville went on to dominate the next 78 minutes of the match, however, recording 32 shots with 13 on target. Jhonder Cádiz scored off a counter in the 20th minute, and Randall Leal scored on a ridiculous miss-hit cross in the second half. But FC Cincinnati held on to a point with some heroic goalkeeping. Once again, Nashville and FC Cincinnati end in a stalemate.
Check out Cincinnati Soccer Talk’s post match report here for more details.
- Each player starts off with a 6 as a standard rating. Six signifies an “average performance” for the match.
- Players will receive additions or subtractions to their score based on individual moments and the overall team performance.
- We’ll look at multiple criteria such as statistics and the Audi Player Index (API), Who Scored, and Stats Zone to assess a player’s rating.
- A player may receive an N/A if they are subbed in/off before any quantifiable statistics are available.
Now onto the player ratings:
GK – Przemysław Tytoń: 8.5 (Man of the Match)
It’s not a good sign when the goalkeeper is “Man of the Match,” but the Polish Eagle certainly earned it. FCC was in survival mode for most of the match, and Tyton faced an onslaught in goal. Yet he still made 11 saves. The first goal was caused by a defensive breakdown, while the other was a cross that miraculously found the inside of the far post. Nashville had 3.08 xG (expected goals) in the game. If Tytoń doesn’t make some brilliant saves, FCC loses this match.
RB – Joseph-Claude Gyau: 4
I mentioned the defensive breakdown that led to the first goal above. While it’s unfair to lay the blame for any goal on one defender, you really have to blame Gyau here. As Nashville is breaking on the counter, Gyau floats towards the center of the pitch to help Nick Hagglund mark Anibal Godoy. But Hagglund didn’t need the help. Meanwhile, Randall Leal was wide open on the wing. He strolled into the box and placed an uncontested low cross in front of goal for the assist. It wasn’t just one mistake. Nashville attacked Gyau’s side of the pitch all night. When he was in position to defend, his numbers were poor (no interceptions or tackles in 90 minutes).
Really looks as if Nashville are targeting FC Cincinnati's right flank — where a converted attacker is playing right back — for a majority of their attacks.
— D.J. Switzer (@wrongsideofpond) April 18, 2021
CB – Nick Hagglund and Tom Pettersson: 6
I don’t typically group together player ratings, but Hagglund and Pettersson had very similar performances and looked nearly identical on the broadcast. So I hope you don’t notice. Both center backs were solid last night. They won more duels than they lost, didn’t miss any attempted tackles and combined for 17 clearances, including 11 headed clearances. Your defenders need to be winning in the air if they are going to face 39 crosses. Hagglund and Pettersson weren’t outstanding, but they weren’t the problem either.
LB – Rónald Matarrita: 7
Cincinnati’s other fullback had a similar performance to Gyau, just with different results. Matarrita was often high up the pitch as well, but when Nashville attacked on the counter, it wasn’t attacking the space behind him. When he was in place to defend, he held his own. He recorded two tackles, three interceptions and five clearances. And when Matarrita was going forward, he delivered. The Costa Rican international created two chances for FCC, including the tight pass through the Nashville defense to Acosta for the assist.
CM – Yuya Kubo: 4.5
The biggest question going into this match was how Kubo would fare in central midfield. The early results weren’t promising. Kubo completed 26 passes in 60 minutes, but only four of them came in the opposition half. On several fast-break opportunities, Kubo slowed down the counter and chose to make a lateral or backward pass instead of progressing the ball forward. Kubo didn’t attempt any dribbles or tackles either. It’s only one match, but the converted forward has a lot to prove as a midfielder.
CM – Kamohelo Mokotjo: 5
Mokotjo was much more active in the opposition half than his midfield partner — completing 12 of his 32 passes — but was just as ineffective controlling the middle of the pitch. “The General” recorded six clearances but didn’t attempt any tackles and received a yellow card for an unnecessary challenge. Nashville dominated the midfield for most of the match, and FCC will need to address that going forward.
38% of the match was played in @fccincinnati area. Won’t produce many positive results like that.
I know it’s game one but the team needs to find a way to navigate through the middle of the pitch to maintain possession. pic.twitter.com/x9AY31Ibic
— Ken Hoetker (Hötker) (@khoetker) April 18, 2021
RM – Álvaro Barreal: 6
Barreal certainly showed flashes of his potential last night but found himself absent in a few stretches of the match. He attempted five dribbles and was clearly the most dangerous player in transition. Barreal recorded two of Cincinnati’s seven shots. One was blocked, while the other would’ve gone through the uprights at a Tennessee Titans’ game. Not a poor game by any means, but Cincinnati’s inability to maintain possession left him out in the cold.
AM – Luciano Acosta: 8
You couldn’t have asked for a better debut from the Argentine playmaker. Cincinnati’s newest designated player made an immediate impact with a goal in the eighth minute. But the shot that went in the net wasn’t the highlight of the play. After a nice one-two with Matarrita, Acosta rolled the ball with his right foot underneath the charging goalkeeper. Joe Willis had no chance and Acosta finished into an open net. Afterwards, Lucho still proved dangerous. He created five chances on the night and four key passes, completing two of his three dribbles, and drew four fouls.
LM – Calvin Harris: 5
FC Cincinnati’s first-round draft pick made his MLS debut in his first game at the club. It’s an incredible achievement for the young Englishman and indicative of the faith coach Jaap Stam has in him. Like Barreal on the other wing, Harris was frequently absent from the match. He only had 22 touches on the ball, the fewest on the team. He made the most of them, recording a successful dribble and a key pass in 60 minutes. Harris, like Barreal, has talent to spare. The Orange and Blue need to be better in possession and involve their wingers going forward.
ST – Brenner: 7.5
Lucho wasn’t the only standout debut for FC Cincinnati. The big-money Brazilian striker who dominated headlines this winter finally hit the pitch in the orange and blue pinstripes. You could see his impact almost immediately. I’m calling him the Energizer Brenny because he ran and pressed the Nashville defenders with noticeable hustle. That put a lot of stress on the Nashville keeper and forced a heavy touch. Brenner got to the ball first, but Willis kicked him as he attempted a late clearance. Brenner immediately stepped up to the penalty spot and placed a powerful shot into the bottom left corner for his debut goal. He didn’t have much to do afterwards, as FCC struggled to hold on to the ball, but his effort never wavered.
SUB – Jürgen Locadia (61st Minute): 5
Locadia wasn’t able to play the full 90 as he’s still recovering from injury, but he came on for Harris to play 30 minutes. The Dutch striker didn’t play in any preseason matches, and it showed. Locadia completed only 3 of his 7 passes, was dispossessed twice and conceded two fouls. He’s clearly not fit yet so it’s unfair to judge him too harshly.
SUB – Caleb Stanko (61st Minute): 6
Just as Locadia was coming on, Kubo seemed to suffer a knock. Stanko came on to replace him in the midfield. It was a defensive change which was almost immediately canceled out by the Nashville equalizer in the 64th minute. Stanko didn’t stand out one way or another in his 30 minutes.
SUB – Allan Cruz (83rd Minute): N/A
In typical Stam fashion, he used his five available substitutions too late to be effective. Cruz came on for Barreal while Acosta moved to the right wing, but Cruz wasn’t on the pitch long enough to make any meaningful impact. I’ll be curious to see how long Stam sticks with Kubo in midfield. Cruz could step into the starting lineup if the experiment fails.
SUB – Haris Medunjanin (90th Minute): N/A
Medunjanin replaced Mokotjo in stoppage time.
Injury Notes: Zico Bailey (concussion), Franko Kovačević (hamstring), Maikel van der Werff (sports hernia)
Out: Isaac Atanga (pending visa), Gustavo Vallecilla (pending visa)