Every season, CST staff takes their best stab at a table finish and we have always made them live with that prediction. It is safe to say that FCC exceeded expectations in the first half of 2022. After being told several times (insert coach here) that the club would turn around with enough time, it finally happened. If the season ended today, FCC would be a playoff team. Most of the staff thought it would take more time for Noonan to right the ship and understandably so. Every coach coming into FC Cincinnati has said it is a multi-year project and that may very well still be the case. In light of raised expectations, however, we are going to give the crew a one-time do-over and see if they change their answers. Our original predictions: here
Where in the eastern table Will FC Cincinnati finish in 2022?
Brad Weigel – Previously Predicted 9th
I’m still keeping the same prediction. I am still high on the club but there are a lot of reinforcements coming in across the league and FC Cincinnati still has question marks at LB, CB, and the midfield. The lack of depth behind Obi and Lucho scares me and if they were to go down for an extended period, there isn’t anybody there I have confidence in to back them up. Expect more peaks and valley’s but you have to love the direction they are headed.
No change – FCC misses playoffs
Brad Gough – Previously Predicted 12th
After three years of preaching patience and incremental improvements I stayed on course and predicted a 12th place finish.
My thinking? Albright would smartly build the roster while allowing bad contracts to roll off the books and only bring in players if they were the right fit for the long term. Well, I was right about that but severely underestimated what Noonan and his staff could do with essentially the same cast of characters as last year and only modest improvements. This team has an identity and a style of play. What’s more, they have a locker room culture that has them believing that, after going down a goal on the road at New England, they can still win the game. I thought that the team would start slow and get better as the year went on, and I’m sticking with that idea. This team is only getting better, and with one or two additions in this window, I think the trend will continue.
Moving FCC into playoff position and into 6th place
Jason Ashcraft – Previously Predicted 10th
What a difference a competent coach and a bought-in team make! Obinna Nwobodo has quickly become my favorite player and has brought stability to the midfield that the team was sorely lacking. I don’t think anyone could have seen Junior Moreno becoming such a vital part of this team either. But FCC isn’t a rock-solid lock for the playoffs, in my opinion. An injury to one of the team’s already thin back line or a long-term absence from Lucho Acosta could spell doom for the Orange and Blue’s playoff hopes. However, I trust Chris Albright to make a decent move during the summer window. A solid CB and maybe some more depth in the midfield should do wonders for shoring up FCC’s leaky defense. What’s more, if FCC can keep Brenner and Vazquez, they may have the best forward pair in the league.
Moving FCC into playoff position and into 6th place
Geoff Tebbetts – Previously Predicted 11th
What a worthless hunk of metal the JEF-9000 supercomputer turned out to be. It predicted sweeps against DC United and Charlotte! Obviously, it needs a drastic upgrade. The team itself needs a bit of tinkering to make the next step, although not as much as initially predicted. Mammoth individual performances from Vazquez, Acosta, and Brenner got FCC this far, but it will take more teamwork to discuss playoff soccer. Obi Nwobodo and Junior Moreno can’t do everything in the midfield—at some point, the defense needs help. If Albright and Noonan can find a key center back, build additional midfield support, and ride Quimi Ordonez’s U-20 success, this team can play meaningful games in October. Forget science—I’m going with my gut! FCC gets 22 points in the remaining 16 games and makes the playoffs with that eventual win in D.C.
Moving FCC into last playoff position and into 7th place
Nate Gilman – Previously Predicted 11th
Chris Albright’s additions around the fringe of the roster coupled with the arrival of his first major signing, Obi Nwobodo, have certainly worked out so far. Pat Noonan looks to be right at home in the big chair in MLS. Depth is still a major question mark, especially in midfield, and an upgrade along the backline would certainly help. I’d be wary of chasing a deal at the expense of limiting future possibilities. However, if not making an all-in move this summer meant missing out on the playoffs, I’m okay with that.
Put another way, we all expected this to be a multi-year process at the start of the season, so it still probably is. All that said, we’re at a point where underlying numbers reflect what teams are good and which are not. FCC is firmly in the former camp, and hey, it’s a lot more fun to be optimistic at a time like this. So I think the Orange and Blue will finish right where they are now.
Moving FCC way up into 5th
Boston Brazzell – Previously Predicted 7th
Why change anything? I don’t need your stupid mulligan and I bet the other writers overcorrect.
Staying with the final playoff spot at 7th
Bryan Weigel 8th – Well, I was smart(?) enough to not post a prediction this Spring. Pat Noonan and FCC have exceeded expectations halfway throughout their 2022 campaign, but will they continue their positive momentum? I think it is as simple as keeping Lucho Acosta healthy and on the pitch. Lucho is the chance creator for this club and while Haris and Barreal did well in spells without the Argentine, he clearly captains the proverbial ship. Brenner is coming into form and Brandon Vazquez continues to get into dangerous positions, so the goals should be there. Will Albright bring in a left back and center back this window to shore up the defense? Can a high $ player be moved to create additional flexibility in the midfield or defense?
I think Lucho will put this team into contention, but the difference between 7th and out of the playoffs will be made by shrewd front office moves this month. As of now, I say that FCC will finish a respectable 8th place in the Eastern Conference. One injury in the defense or a knock to Lucho leaves a very thin margin for FCC. Still, a very successful first season for the Noonan-Albright era.
Jeremy Lance 8th – Before the season started, all I asked for was competency and for this club to be playing meaningful matches in late summer. It’s July, and while I don’t want to hang the “Mission Accomplished” banner across an aircraft carrier just yet, I feel my requests have been satisfied. Alive in the playoff fight and showing the ability to take on all challenges. Finally, in season four, this club looks the part. Competitive in matches, attacking with teeth, and able to bounce back after bad moments. Still an incomplete product, as well. While fullback/wing back positions have weathered a storm of injuries, the center back position needs to be fixed. This club has done very well compensating for this shortcoming but that can’t last forever.
Hoping they can make another smart move to patch up the back line. This team will stay in the fight but ultimately, I think FC Cincinnati will finish just outside the money.
Jeremy Miller – Staying with 1st place – I was already confident in that top spot but after seeing what Chris and Pat have done it’s a sure lock. Brenner has finally settled into MLS. The sloppiness we saw last year from Lucho when he got frustrated, isn’t there anymore. Brandon has his eye on the MLS all-star game. Pat has changed the team’s mentality and has players working together like we haven’t seen before with FC Cincinnati. This group has what it takes, Obi is here already, add in another defensive piece this summer and with some expected returns from injury and we are looking at a playoff run.
Ken Hoetker – Moving from 11th to 9th – FC Cincinnati has exceeded expectations so far. Lucho playing within Noonan’s framework has turned him into the undeniable leader on the pitch. Brandon Vazquez’s steady runs and improved hold-up play, Brenner’s newfound confidence, the offense looks potent. The addition of Obi and Moreno in the midfield creates a foundation for midfield pressing. The weakness lies in the backline and wingback/wide midfielders, if Albright can add a solid CB the team should improve. However, one thing the team struggles with is depth and unless there are 3-4 player additions I fear this team will struggle/ fade down the stretch. That fear has me predicting a 9th-place finish.