Welcome to the 1st of our annual series of articles where we ask our staff to predict the future. Will they show genius or cry in horror by season end. Screenshots and banter are welcome, come September. Let us know your thoughts on twitter or if you need more characters at our email email@example.com
First up, FC Cincinnati 2022 impact player. Who changes things for the better?
Chris Asbrock – Website Contributor
Alec Kann – It is no secret that goalkeeping was an issue for the team throughout the last season. The signing of Kann is an immediate upgrade to that position and will provide more stability at that position. While he might not be a Goalkeeper of the Year candidate, Kann will certainly make the most impact for 2022. The main question is can that steady goalkeeping he did in Atlanta carry forward in Cincinnati over the course of a full season. This is assuming FCC still sits the money.
Brad Gough – Tactics / Podcast Host
Yuya Kubo – Kubo’s growth and improvement as a 6 was one of the few bright spots last season. He performed much better down the stretch than anyone anticipated. Noonan moving him a bit forward to the 8 position will decrease his defensive responsibility while allowing him to do what he does best: progress the ball. We’ve already seen him score in the preseason, and I expect he’ll be a much bigger part of the offense this year.
Jacob Clary – Website Contributor – Kit Judge
Ronald Matarrita – He Who Shall Not Be Named might have pushed this team’s window back multiple years, but one of his best moves was trading for Ronald Matarrita from New York City FC. Matarrita has consistently produced assists and goal contributions since joining the team and looked like a Best of XI player on a team that struggled. The addition of Pat Noonan and Chris Albright means FCC may possibly build around one of the team’s best players. Ronald might even be moved into the midfield to better utilize his precision passing and vision, which could catapult Matarrita into a well-known MLS stud.
Gracin – Contributor / The Future
Luciano Acosta – Acosta is the player I chose for my 2022 FC Cincinnati impact player. Last season, he scored 15 goals and assists in 34 MLS games, which is quite impressive for a team that wasn’t as productive as it needed to be. Now new pieces will be added and it will be even better for him. A new season with better coaching will be ideal for Lucho, and it’s certainly going to be exciting to see.
Nate Gilman – Weekly Tactical Wizard
Brenner – He didn’t live up to the lofty expectations that came with his $13 million transfer fee in 2021. However, let’s not forget that, during a global pandemic, he moved nearly 5,000 miles to a new country where he didn’t speak the language. He just turned 22. His eight goals led the Orange and Blue and, at times, he demonstrated an ability to combine with other attacking players to create chances for himself and others. Tactically in 2022, Brenner should benefit from playing with another striker assuming new coach Pat Noonan opts to use a 4-4-2 diamond. Coupled with a year of experience in the U.S. and in MLS, it’s not a stretch to envision a situation where Brenner’s 2022 is much better than his 2021.
Geoff Tebbetts – Podcast Host / Press Box
Dominique Badji – When it comes to defending a lead, there are two ways you can protect it—you either park the bus and put the clamps on defense, or you hit the gas and pad that lead. FCC was not particularly good at either of those in 2021—of the 14 leads they held in games last season, only four leads were kept for the W. While it will take a team effort to make the defense gel together, a dependable attacker behind Lucho and Brenner will need to finish wins. Dominique Badji, I feel you will be that third option.
Badji played 12 games for Colorado after being traded from Nashville in 2021, and his five goals were all considered quality goals. All five either gave the Rapids the lead or extended the lead, and four of the five were scored in the second half. All five games resulted in points for Colorado. Last season, FCC severely mismanaged substitutions and had no spark to come off the bench. If Noonan needs impact as a super sub, Badji will need to pick up that mantle and replicate his work with Colorado.