FC Cincinnati had a big weekend, they gave fans the home win they have been craving all year long. Did they do something different? Was it just pieces coming together? There was no late match collapse as the defense held fast. Or was it simply the fact that Toronto FC just doesn’t generate enough chances and FCC entered the match with the overall edge? Breaking apart a soccer match can be a complicated chore and people like our Coach Gough or Nate Gilman are much better at it than I. I’m sure they will be answering some of those questions listed above. One trend even an amateur can notice however and that is FC Cincinnati players take on the opposition.
The Orange and Blue Attack
FC Cincinnati is only lower average when it comes to goal stats. They are dead last in the league however in crosses and that points to problems but doesn’t purely identify them. FC Cincinnati’s fix isn’t just entering matches and crossing more although that likely would help in some instances. The club has a much more pressing problem
In order to make these pushes forward through the middle, Cincinnati has heavily relied on Luciano Acosta to string together the attack in the final third. FC Cincinnati has two players at the top of the league in one-on-one /dribbling attacks. Acosta is ranked twelfth in all of MLS at a 6.85 average per 90 min match. Barreal clocks in at 6.09. As a club, FCC ranks third in the dribbling attack with only LAFC and SJ Earthquakes ahead of them. SJ is below the playoff line in the western conference while LAFC sits right on the bubble. The main problem is that this stat is just how many of these one-on-ones take place not the accuracy of them. Cincinnati is by far the worse of the three.
FC Cincinnati does not have a single player in the top 30 for successful one-on-one dribbling attacks. The league average for them no matter where they take place on the pitch is 52.61%. FCC is fourth from last at 48.9%. Unfortunately, it isn’t the main attackers that are bringing the average up. Acosta, one of the league leading generators, is averaging 41.% and a decent amount of them come in the final third. He is tasked with building FC Cincinnati’s attack however, in big moments he has tried to take them for himself. In the past match, Acosta was three for six. One of those successes was negated in the 32nd minute after he lost the ball against a second defender. Acosta is talented and when he does make the correct challenge, he sometimes overplays by immediately entering a second challenge. The frustrating part for fans is when he passes out of it, it can work. In the 30th minute, he dribbles and kicks the ball up to the top of the box to give Medunjanin a solid shot that misses. In the 39th minute, he dribbles from the outside and fires off a rare Brenner cross that results in a goal. Not FC Cincinnati’s normal style but it worked. The drive at the end of the match in which he didn’t pass it early enough did not apply to this statistic but it also points to the issue.
FC Cincinnati isn’t as bad when they play to their team strengths and play less individual ball. The Toronto match proved that much as Acosta created the chances. It is frustrating for players to lose and pressure begins to build to make something happen. Acosta wants to score so badly at times he tries to force his way in which often results in lost possession. Or he does make the pass but after his challenge in has crowded the box and closed the window. Both Acosta and Barreal rank last on the team in passing percentage. Two players you count on for creation are not getting the job done. Cincinnati was still well under the league average on chances generated vs Toronto but they created good chances. If Stam can get Acosta, or FCC in general, to be wiser on dribbling attacks, and shift up the charts on the successful %, more wins should follow. Challenge to create passes in with more space. Take the shot if the window opens and the box is crowded. Cross a little more often than normal after space has been created.
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