Both matches at Orlando and Miami were glimpses of the club’s bright future. For the first time since the 2019 season, FC Cincinnati was able to achieve two consecutive wins. In the match against Orlando, they completed a win through a Brandon Vazquez brace, but the win against Miami was even more dominant.
For the first time in almost 3 years, the Orange and Blue pulled off a 2-match winning streak, and the upcoming matches only look easier. The next two matches are at Charlotte (1-3-0, 3 pts.), and then at home against Montreal (0-3-1, 1pt.). It is certainly possible a 4-match winning streak can be pulled off.
With the front office, the current roster, and the club infrastructure, things are looking very good. For the first time in the MLS years, the fanbase has quite a few reasons to be optimistic. A lucrative project is being constructed, and FC Cincinnati may be coming back.
In today’s article at Cincinnati Soccer Talk, we are going through the positives in the club. The current status is very optimistic, and an even brighter future is ahead. This is down to some key factors, and they will be discussed throughout the article.
A huge part of any club is its leadership. The front office has to be smart with their decisions, and whatever they do is reflected on the field. Today, with the addition of statistics, clubs can scout more accurately, and have a wider pool of players to look for. This transfer strategy is sometimes labeled as “Moneyball”, but it just comes down to making intelligent decisions.
For example, Philadelphia Union is the savvy team of MLS. This is a club that isn’t as glamorous as LAFC or Atlanta, but still finds a way to make it work. Their transfers really pay off because of this. In a league that has a salary cap, and a miscellany of roster rules to work around, Philly has done very well.
Philadelphia’s transfer strategy isn’t like most. Most clubs in MLS have a certain area they like to scout in, but the Union looks all over the globe. Players like Daniel Gazdag arrived from Hungary, Matej Oravec from Slovakia, and Stuart Findlay from Scotland.
During last season, the Orange and Blue hired new leadership. The new coach Pat Noonan, and the new general manager, Chris Albright. Both of them arrived from Philadelphia, and are familiar with the transfer strategy they used there.
The coaching tactics are another thing that the new leadership is used to. For two years, the club was under Gerard Nijkamp’s management, and the tactics were often slowed down. Both Ron Jans and Jaap Stam instilled possession based tactics, and this was often not entertaining to watch. Chris Albright and Pat Noonan’s tactics are the opposite.
The style of play is often fast-paced, and during possession, the team will look for opportunities to score quickly. This is when they pounce. This tactical style has been used throughout this new season, and it is entertaining, and effective.
Oftentimes, managers may switch up their formation and tactics during matches, and this is something that previous FC Cincy managers didn’t really do. Previously, Ron Jans and Jaap Stam had given styles, and they rarely changed. Early into this season Pat Noonan switched up the tactics when needed, and it worked, especially against Orlando City.
At Philadelphia, Chris Albright and his staff didn’t really have star players. Arguably, the biggest star signed for the club was Marco Fabian, an attacking midfielder from Mexico. His signing was one of the most anticipated for the Union.
In 25 matches there, he scored 8 goals and assisted on 1.
Currently, at FC Cincinnati, there are multiple big-money star players with the quality and dynamics to change any game. Brenner, Luciano Acosta, Alvaro Barreal, and Isaac Atanga are current players that have the ability to do big things in the league. This is something that is new to Chris Albright’s structure, and it will be a huge help.
Luciano Acosta’s time at DC was remarkable. Alongside Wayne Rooney, they formed the “Lucharoo” partnership, one of the most dangerous in the league. Their alliance on the field led the Black and Red to a 4th place finish in the Eastern Conference, and for three years they tarnished defense after defense. FCC signed him back to MLS from Atlas in Mexico, and so far, things have been very positive with him in the squad.
Last season, Acosta scored 7 goals and assisted 8 in 31 matches. His time at the Orange and Blue has been quite positive, and he is currently leading MLS in key passes, as of Saturday.
Brenner was a remarkable MLS signing, one of the most impressive ones of recent times. When the club was originally interested in signing him, he was a huge prospect, and regarded as one of the young stars in Brazilian soccer. The likes of Juventus, Real Madrid, and Manchester United were all interested in him, and the club beat them all out to sign him.
Both Alvaro Barreal and Isaac Atanga were players signed as a part of the U22 initiative introduced by the league. They both haven’t performed very consistently, but they have some quality potential. Barreal has had 6 goals and assists in 36 matches.
The current roster is performing beyond expectations right now. Near the end of last season and in the beginning of this season, Brandon Vazquez has been particularly incredible. In just 4 games so far, he’s scored 4 and assisted 1, and as of Saturday, was tied for first in the league.
Another player that has been in form this season is Yuya Kubo. In the past 3 matches, he has been on another level, easily being the best midfielder in this team. In similar fashion to Vazquez and Acosta, he has 10 tackles won, the 2nd highest in the league.
Alec Kann has been a solid goalkeeper so far as well. Despite conceding 5 in Austin, he improved, and has been a brick wall in front of goal.
Right now, under the leadership, and the players in the club, things are going very well. The performances by the team have only gotten better and better.
Another key part of any club is its infrastructure. To have success throughout an entire organization, you need a solidified academy and reserve team. FC Dallas has an impressive system, with the likes of Rogelio Funes Mori and Weston McKennie coming out of the Texas academy. Their reserve team, North Texas SC, won the USL League One title in 2019.
The academy was announced in 2019, and under the guidance of Larry Sunderland, it has gone quite positively. This, along with the completion of a reserve team, will continue to lay down the foundation for an infrastructure that is so needed.
FC Cincinnati was struggling to complete this infrastructure at first. But, this season the reserve team was announced, completing the pyramid of Orange and Blue, a project that was originally proposed by former general manager Gerard Nijkamp when he arrived to lead the team.
With the academy connected to the reserves, a flow of young talent will come through, and help the club out even more. If you have a good development system, things will only go up from there.
The first signings made by the reserves are exciting, and the full roster will be constructed ahead of the first game in just 8 days, on March 27th. Things are looking very positive with the infrastructure, just a small part of the current project for the present and the future.
In conclusion, the club’s present and future is very bright. Under the leadership of Pat Noonan and Chris Albright, and with the current roster and infrastructure set up, things will continue to ascend, higher and higher.
Two matches won in a row, and the schedule continues to get easier, that is until the club plays Seattle. Either way, against Charlotte and Montreal, things can go even better.
Before the season started, no one could’ve predicted things to go this well so early in, but they have, and they will continue to. The club probably won’t win the MLS Cup this year, but it looks like they will impress nonetheless.