FC Cincinnati rolled into America First Field for a cross-conference match against Real Salt Lake on the back of 9 matches unbeaten. A Brenner brace meant that they left Utah with a win, and an even firmer standing for a playoff birth.
Things did not look great to start for the Orange and Blue when RSL put them under some heavy pressure before breaking through in the 35th minute. Then, moments after Brenner equalized. A soft backpass from Matt Miazga in stoppage forced Roman Celentano to give away a penalty kick. Roman decided that his foul would not be fatal and came up big with the penalty save to keep the game even at half.
That set things up nicely for Brenner to bag his 2nd in the 76th minute, and with it, the FC Cincinnati win. The win leaves FCC in 6th place in the Eastern Conference, sitting on 45 points.
Check out Cincinnati Soccer Talk’s post-match report HERE for more details.
- Each player starts off with a 6 as a standard rating. Six signifies an “average performance” for the match.
- Players will receive additions or subtractions to their score based on individual moments and the overall team performance.
- We’ll look at multiple criteria such as statistics and player rating systems from Who Scored and FOTMOB
- We won’t use .5 increments, because that is weak sauce.
- We will not be afraid to give players a perfect 10 if they deserve it, but will never give a rating of 0 because there is always some sort of positive.
- A player may receive a N/A if they are subbed in/off before any quantifiable statistics are available.
- xG – Expected goals (or xG) measures the quality of a chance by calculating the likelihood that it will be scored from a particular position on the pitch during a particular phase of play
- Post-Shot xG – Post-Shot xG is calculated after the shot has been taken, once it is known that the shot is on-target, taking into account the quality of the shot.
- Progressive Pass – A pass that advances toward the opponent’s goal where the distance between the starting point and the next touch is:
- at least 30 meters closer to the opponent’s goal if the starting and finishing points are within a team’s own half
- at least 15 meters closer to the opponent’s goal if the starting and finishing points are in different halves
- at least 10 meters closer to the opponent’s goal if the starting and finishing points are in the opponent’s half
- Progressive Carry – Carries that move the ball toward the opponent’s goal at least 5 yards, or any carry into the penalty area. Excludes carries from the defending 40% of the pitch.
- Dribble – Moving past the opposing player while maintaining possession of the ball. When a player shields the ball or otherwise uses physical strength to maintain possession, this is not a dribble.
- Key Pass – A pass that immediately creates a clear goal scoring opportunity for a teammate. A key pass does not have to lead to a shot, and thus is different than a shot-creating action.
- Long Pass – Definition depends on the site being used. Typically, a pass that travels a distance greater than 30 yards.
- Mistouch – When a player fails when trying to gain control of the ball without a defender earning a tackle or a ground duel.
- Ground Duel – A challenge between two players to gain control of the ball, progress with the ball, or change its direction.
- Dispossessed – The times a player loses control of the ball after a tackle from an opponent, not including attempted dribbles.
- Recovery – Any action that ends the possession of the opponent without the ball going out of bounds. Recoveries are typically duels (44%) or interceptions (16%), but can happen without any specific action from the player doing the recovery (positioning himself correctly or simply collecting the ball).
Expected Goals (xG): FC Cincinnati – 0.6, RSL – 1.6, per mlssoccer.com
Now onto the ratings:
Manager – Pat Noonan – 9
It seemed like Noonan set his team up to possess through the back instead of their typical, counter-attack-like-its-going-out-of-style tact. This made things a bit rocky for FCC to start, but also meant that they were not opened up in transition when they turned the ball over. The tactic paid off in holding RSL to a meager .17 xG from open play in the first half. Unfortunately, his team wasn’t much better coming in with just .21 xG
Then, at half time the gaffer didn’t change much. It appeared that he simply emphasized that Hagglund and Murphy were being targeted by the RSL press. They needed to play more quickly and be given more options. FC Cincinnati’s game-winner came from exactly that scenario.
Getting a win on the road is never easy, but is especially difficult against Real Salt Lake. Noonan became the first Eastern Conference manager to get a road win in Utah since 2017.
GK – Roman Celentano – 9 (Man of the Match
Goals change games, and if RSL took the lead into halftime on the back of a penalty kick this outing could have gone a completely different way. However, Roman stepped up to the plate and stoned Pablo Ruíz from the spot. That alone could be enough to give him man of the match.
However, Roman also saved 7 of the 8 shots he faced, and gave up just a single goal on a post-shot xG of 1.8. Down the stretch with his team up 2-1 he had to make a 1v1 save against Cordova, the man he brought down for the penalty kick, and also had to react quickly to keep out an Anderson Julio backheel flick in the 84th minute. The only thing keeping Roman from a perfect “10” is his continuously poor, yet steadily improving distribution.
RWB – Alvas Powell – 7
Powell had an up-and-down match. Defensively he was mostly solid. Other than getting dribbled once and only winning 1 tackle, he was able to win 3 of his 4 ground duels and all 3 of his aerial duels while chipping in with 12 pressures. He struggled offensively, only accurately crossing 1 of 3 attempts and completing just 71% of his passes. in the 25th minute he showed great control to bring the ball down, but wasted his cross by badly overhitting it. Then, he dribbled the ball out over the goal line on the next play. In all he led the team with 5 mistouches.
When you take into account that he contributed only 4 progressive actions (1 pass and 3 carries), one might be tempted to grade him lower. However, his assist for Brenner’s first goal was underrated. He showed great patience and awareness to set Brenner up to stride into his shot which was key to its success.
RCB – Nick Hagglund – 5
Hagglund had a rare quiet game and didn’t cover himself in glory. He completed only 73% of his passes, including only 2 progressive passes. Perhaps most telling is that the Cincinnati-Kid won only 2 of 7 ground duels, and 2 of 5 aerial duels. One of the aerial duels that he lost resulted in RSL’s lone goal.
Hagglund was able to complete 4 of 7 long passes, however. He also added 8 pressures. Finally, it was his excellent line-splitting pass that started the break that ended in Brenner’s game winner.
CB – Matt Miazga – 5
Miazga seemed to struggle playing in the center of FCC’s back 3. He didn’t play poorly, but never quite looked comfortable. He didn’t win a single ground duel (2 attempts) or aerial duel (0 attempts), and also committed 2 fouls.
The newcomer didn’t make many mistakes either. He only applied 4 pressures, but 3 of them were successful. The one mistake that he did make, however, was a huge one: the soft back-pass that led to Celentano conceding a penalty.
LCB – Ian Murphy – 7
The rookie center back stepped into the lineup for the suspended Geoff Cameron and didn’t really miss a beat. He was dribbled once and committed a foul, but also won 3 of his 5 ground duels and his only aerial duel. His 79% passing was adequate and included 4 of 9 long balls.
What I liked most about Murphy’s performance was his ability to get pressure to the RSL players between the lines. He was credited with 8 pressures, but also did a great job getting out to close down players in possession when Barreal was caught out.
LWB – Álvaro Barreal – 6
Barreal should be rated higher. He completed 86% of his passes and 4 of his 5 crosses were accurate. He attempted crosses in key moments and helped to keep the RSL defense off balance. This is a quality that FCC has been missing from the flanks. Young Álvaro also contributed 5 interceptions, 11 pressures, and 7 recoveries, showing he was extremely active defensively.
However, it was Barreal that completely failed to follow the run of Jefferson Savarino in the 35th minute leading to a dangerous cross that Alvas Powell headed away. Then, on the ensuing throw, it was Barreal that inexplicably wandered forward leaving Savarino wide open on the goal line to receive the ball and cross for RSL’s goal.
DCM – Obinna Nwobodo – 8
After a couple of “down” performances in a row, Obi was a big reason why FC Cincinnati was able to win on the road this week. His passing percentage was excellent as always (86%), and he also added 2 key passes, 2 progressive passes, and 2 shot-creating actions.
Obi’s 19 pressures were 2nd on the team, but 12 of them occurred in the middle third where RSL was desperately trying to gain a foothold. He won 4 of his 7 ground duels and didn’t commit a single foul. The one glaring black spot on his resume for this match was that he was dribbled past 3 times.
DCM – Junior Moreno – 6
It feels like I can pencil in Junior as a “6” just about every week. Since his injury, he may not make any glaring mistakes or stand out negatively, but he also doesn’t impact the game positively either. He had only 1 tackle, 1 interception, and won 1 of 2 ground duels while contributing only 7 pressures.
Why does Moreno continue to start? He is excellent positionally. Even when he doesn’t get the stats to back it up he is nearly always in the right spot to provide balance to the midfield. Further more, one thing that Moreno does that this team desperately needs is progress the ball. He tied for the team lead with 5 progressive passes.
CAM – Lucho Acosta – 7
It is a rare occasion that Lucho receives a FotMob rating lower than 8, but he came in with a 7.6 on this one. Not terrible, but not great either. His 64% passing was not good, he had only 1 shot-creating action, and even his pass that led to Brenner’s 2nd goal needed a fortunate deflection. Not new, but of note, his set pieces were terrible throughout. The team finished with a set-play xG of 0.06.
However, the big difference in the captain this year has been his ability to contribute when things aren’t going well for him. He led the team in pressures by a wide margin (26 total), and won 10 of his 14 ground duels.
ST – Brenner – 8
Should Brenner have been given a perfect “10” last week? Probably. He took a slight step back this week and was excellent again. Of course, he took his 2 goals extremely well, scoring them though they added up to an xG of just .45. He also completed all of his dribbles (at least 2), and added 4 progressive actions (3 carries, 1 pass).
His step back came in his link up play, where he completed 79% of his passes but failed to log any shot-creating actions. He was also dispossessed once and had a mistouch.
ST – Brandon Vazquez – 5
Brandon works incredibly hard and does so many good things for this team outside of scoring goals. However, even when one doesn’t account for goals and assists the target forward has been in a bit of a slide of late, and it shows in how he is pressing to perform. In the 27th minute, he did well to run in behind the RSL defense and cut back to his left foot. However, he then sailed his shot over the goal when Brenner was wide open for a pass across the box.
Overall, his passing percentage was just 65% and he only hit the target with 1 of his 3 shots. He also had 3 mistouches and was dispossessed 3 times. Despite all this, he contributed 2 shot-creating actions, completed 2 dribbles, and had 3 progressive carries. He was subbed off in the 72nd minute.
Yuya Kubo (67th minute) – 5
Yuya came on for Junior Moreno in a change that seems formulaic at this point. We’ve seen him make a big impact on games, but in this one he was not very involved. In his 24 minutes he logged only 8 touches offensively, and a mere 4 pressures defensively. He was also dribbled past once.
However, he took care of the ball when he did have it. He completed all 6 of his passes and his only attempted dribble.
Ray Gaddis (72nd minute) – 4
Gaddis entered the match for an utterly spent Alvas Powell. He ran around and gave a lot of effort, but in the end was not very impactful. He won only 1 of his 4 ground duels, had one errant pass that led to an RSL break that forced Roman into a save, and headed a clearance straight back into the middle of his own box in stoppage time that luckily fell right to Nick Hagglund.
He was able to complete 4 of his 6 passes including 2 into the final third, and most importantly was not dribbled past at all.
Sergio Santos (72nd minute) – 6
Santos continues to prove that he is a valuable addition to the team off the bench. In his 18 minutes he had a successful dribble, an accurate cross, and won 2 of his 3 duels. He didn’t have quite the impact that he has had in the last couple of matches, but was solid nonetheless
Ronald Matarrita (86th minute) – N/A
Dom Badji (86th minute) – N/A
Availability Notes: Other than backup goalkeepers the squad was fully healthy for this match.