The Chris Albright era officially kicked off on Saturday evening as FC Cincinnati (4-8-15, 20 points) hosted the Philadelphia Union. The new general manager’s former club capitalized on their few chances to dispatch the orange and blue for their sixth loss in a row.
Interim head coach Tyrone Marshall debuted a surprise pairing in the back four with center backs Gustavo Vallecilla and Tyler Backett starting in place of stalwart Geoff Cameron. Zico Bailey started his third match of 2021 with backup Edgar Castillo manning the left flank.
Noticeable changes to the tactics were present by the home side. Marshall’s group tried to play quickly early instead of the methodical play from the back under Stam. When times were tough in the offensive third, instead of mainly playing quick touches between Acosta and Brenner, FCC would try to draw the Union to one side and switch the attack quickly.
The first half was unfortunately defined by missed chances for FC Cincinnati instead of poor play. Cincy out-possessed the Union 57-43 and 63-37 for the whole match. Cincy was able to generate significant opportunities to no avail outshooting Philly for the match 15-11.
In the 11th minute, Cincinnati playmaker Luciano (Lucho) Acosta sent a gem of a through ball onto young designated player Brenner. The Brazilian was able to gain a step on the Union defense and had a great opportunity before an oncoming Matt Freese. Brenner could have possibly taken a touch around the keeper, but instead sent a slow-rolling attempt at the near post. The shot beat Freese but found itself just outside the frame.
Alvaro Barreal also nearly got a go-ahead goal in the 28th minute. A beautiful long diagonal ball from Acosta was brought down brilliantly by the Argentine who launched a shot near post. The shot wound up in the side netting but could have been called off anyway due to the flag being held up on Barreal.
Cincinnati hit a speed bump in the 31st minute as Vallecilla and designated player Yuya Kubo had to exit the match. Kubo experienced an ankle injury while the Ecuadorian left with a hamstring issue.
Przemysław Tytoń had to come up big several times in the half including parrying away a header in the 34th minute from Kacper Przybylko. Cincinnati wasted another chance moments later as Isaac Atanga’s effort was palmed away by Freese. Former Philadelphia Union midfielder Haris Medunjanin left his mark in the game with several great passes. This pass to Atanga gave the young winger some space, but the Ghanaian’s inability to direct his shot with accuracy allowed the game to remain scoreless.
During stoppage time, Barreal put a shot off a Cincy corner kick just wide of frame. Two minutes later, Przybylko would give the visitors a lead on a composed shot off a deflection. Philly playmaker Paxten Aaronson was able to get space down the Cincinnati left side. His cutback pass took a skip off a Cincinnati defender but found Przybylko. The forward took his time and placed a shot in the top left corner to give Philly the advantage going into the break.
The Union were content with giving Cincinnati chances in the second half, yet trying to find opportunities in transition. Acosta got into the attack early with an inside-the-box effort pushed out. Moments later after a nice give-and-go with Castillo, Brenner would take a curling shot that fell easily to Freese.
Frustration began to show from Cincy early in the half as good chances amounted to very little. Atanga sent an inch-perfect cross across the field to an oncoming Acosta in the 53rd minute. Lucho appeared to take an additional touch to play around the keeper instead of attempting a one-touch shot. Freese would collide into Acosta saving his attempt in what spoiled an absolutely beautiful ball from Atanga.
In the theme of the evening, Philly was able to capitalize on their chance as Aaronson would notch the Union’s second goal on a counter. Nathan Harriel’s cross found the rising attacker, whose header was positioned perfectly past the stretching Tyton.
In what was another moment in the disappointing night of Brenner, the forward found more space behind the Philly defense after a great through ball. Brenner attempted a half-shot-half chip which ended up as a harmless effort right at Freese.
Finally, in the 82nd minute, a Lucho Acosta overlapping pass to Brenner would begin to unlock the Philly defense. Brenner would send a pass back to Acosta who attempted a curling shot. The playmaker’s shot was blocked but the deflection fell to Haris who neatly placed it past Freese. The midfielder was solid throughout the entire match and this goal highlighted a certain man of the match performance.
The game would begin to get stale as Cincy would abandon some successful tactics in an effort to go more direct.
In what was disappointing for the home fans, Cincinnati could not see another goal out and would fall to a young, yet very talented Union squad.
Fans are most disappointed because Cincy weren’t outclassed or outplayed on the evening. FCC played better, held meaningful possession and tremendous passing sequences with no end product. The inability to finish on the evening will haunt Cincinnati’s designated players. These players, while talented, needed to make their mark in what was a very winnable home game. The evaluation process for Albright begins in earnest.
Matchday 28 – FC Cincinnati vs. Philadelphia Union
TQL Stadium – Cincinnati, Ohio
Attendance: 21,674 – tickets distributed
Result: Philadelphia Union 2, FC Cincinnati 1.
FC Cincinnati Starting XI (4-2-3-1):
Przemysław Tytoń, Zico Bailey (Chris Duvall 73′), Tyler Blackett, Gustavo Vallecilla (Geoff Cameron 31′), Edgar Castillo, Caleb Stanko (Kamohelo Mokotjo 45′), Haris Medunjanin, Álvaro Barreal (Brandon Vazquez 65′) , Luciano Acosta (c), Yuya Kubo (Isaac Atanga 31′) , Brenner
Bench: Kenneth Vermeer, Allan Cruz, Calvin Harris, Arquimides Ordonez,
Philadelphia Union Starting XI (3-4-1-2):
Matthew Freese, Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Stuart Findlay, Nathan Harriel, Alejandro Bedoya (Jesús Bueno 84′), Jack McGlynn (Matt Real 66′), Leon Flach, Paxten Aaronson, Sergio Santos (Quinn Sullivan 15′), Kacper Przybylko
Bench: Joe Bendik, Aurélien Collin, Matheus Davό, Anthony Fontana, ,
CIN – Haris Medunjanin 82′
PHI – Przybylko 45+3′ (Aaronson), Aaronson 56′ (Harriel)
CIN – Edgar Castillo (caution) 68’,
PHI – Matthew Freese (caution) 80’
vs. Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, October 16th, TQL Stadium