FC Cincinnati stormed into Washington DC on Decision Day, and the front three of Brandon Vazquez, Brenner, and Lucho Acosta carried the team into the playoffs. The front 3 combined to create 5 goals for the Orange and Blue. Despite allowing 2 goals on the other end, the team did more than enough to secure the away win and the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
FCC got off to a dream start when Lucho Acosta opened the scoring in just the 6th minute, and Brenner doubled the lead 2 minutes later. Brenner was able to add a 3rd in the 24th minute before DC United grabbed one back in the 27th. Brenner made sure that the Orange and Blue faithful didn’t stay too nervous for too long, however, completing the first half hat trick in the 37th minute. DC was able to score another just after the break, but Brandon Vazquez added the cherry on top of a 5-2 victory bagging his 2nd goal in consecutive games.
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 and statistics from websites like FB Ref, Who Scored, and FOTMOB.
- All statistics used will be taken from fbref.com.
- We won’t use .5 increments, because that is weak sauce.
- A player may receive a N/A if they are subbed in/off before any quantifiable statistics are available.
Expected Goals (xG): FC Cincinnati – 2.1, DC United – 0.4, per mlssoccer.com
Now onto the ratings:
Manager – Pat Noonan – 9
I think Noonan got this match pretty spot on. He opened the match with a starting XI that has become consistent and solid. However, in this match he chose to sit the team in more of a mid-block, presumably understanding that United would be looking to play long into Christian Benteke at every opportunity. The strategy worked, and DC looked like they couldn’t get much going through the opening 20 minutes of the match.
Noonan also was smart to take off Moreno at half to limit his exposure, as he was already on a yellow card. He was also able to get Alvas Powell and Nick Hagglund, both on slight knocks, off the pitch relatively early. My only downgrade on the manager is his final change in the 85th minute, bringing on Ronald Matarrita and Dom Badji. For me, if Mata isn’t going to play useful minutes it isn’t worth running him out there. There is no real benefit in playing the Costa Rican for 5 minutes at the end of a match. Then, to continue to rely on Badji when a player like Quimi Ordoñez might be more useful heading into the playoffs and long-term also seems slightly wasteful.
GK – Roman Celentano – 5
Roman once again was underwater with his numbers, allowing 2 goals on a Post-Shot xG of only .7. Go and look at the definition below if you want to know how significant that is. Getting beat from distance is never ideal for a goalkeeper, and his angle was iffy on United’s 2nd. That said, Morrison had acres of space to hit his banger, and Fletcher waltzed into the 18-yard box without much difficulty for his far-post strike.
I wouldn’t put too much stock in Roman’s low-ish ratings in the past two matches. He hasn’t made any egregious errors, and he hasn’t exactly had a ton of opportunities to bail the team out with great saves either.
RWB – Alvas Powell – 5
The Jamaican International has been a breath of fresh air compared to what FCC had at the position last year. However, he hasn’t been great in a run of successive matches. One wonders if he has been carrying some sort of knock, as he was once again removed from the match pretty early in the 2nd half.
Without knowing if this is true, however, all we can do is use the information that we have. Powell only had 5 progressive actions (2 passes, 3 carries) in a match with lots of space available. He was also dribbled twice, and only won 1 of 3 tackles. Finally, he got caught napping pretty badly in the runup to United’s 2nd goal, letting Tony Alfaro run freely up the flank.
RCB – Nick Hagglund – 7
Nick Hagglund put in a very Nick Hagglund performance in his 70 minutes on the pitch, winning all 6 of his duels (2 ground, 4 aerial). However, he also was only able to muster 2 pressures and didn’t win a tackle. He also was in the vicinity when Alfaro and Fletcher created United’s 2nd goal, even though it wasn’t really his fault.
Despite all this, he managed to be a key contributor offensively for the Orange and Blue. He contributed 2 shot-creating actions, and it was his flick header that led to Brenner’s 2nd goal. He also added an impressive 3 passes into the final third and 11 ball recoveries.
CB – Geoff Cameron – 7
Geoff Cameron took the primary responsibility of tracking Benteke as he continued to look for long balls out of the United back line, and he did pretty well. His 12 pressures were more than Miazga (6) and Hagglund (2) combined. He also added 3 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 8 recoveries.
The big problem with Cameron continues to be speed and agility. Despite tracking Benteke all over the pitch and having a high number of pressures, he only managed to get into 2 ground duels, though he won them both. He also got caught flat-footed when Fletcher waltzed into the box for United’s 2nd goal and failed to apply pressure.
LCB – Matt Miazga – 7
Miazga’s biggest contribution in the match happened just 6 minutes in. His excellent long ball led to Vazquez flicking the ball toward Lucho for the opening goal. From there his numbers were mostly pretty good, including 85% passing, 2 tackles, and 2 interceptions.
Miazga’s score would be higher if not for his getting beat on the FCC left a few times too often. He was dribbled twice and managed to win only 3 of his 7 ground duels.
LWB – Álvaro Barreal – 8
Any discussion of Barreal’s play has to start with his offensive contributions. His 3 shot-creating actions, and particularly his clever backheel in the buildup to FCC’s 2nd goal, were important to the team’s performance. Even more importantly, though, were his 14 progressive actions (5 passes, 9 carries), which trailed only Lucho Acosta’s. Things weren’t perfect for the youngster, however. He was only accurate with 1 of his 6 crosses.
What makes Barreal’s performance so good in this match, however, was his defensive contribution. His 17 pressures, 8 blocks, 2 tackles, and 3 interceptions is an excellent defensive stat line. He was dribbled once and left Miazga out on an island several times by getting caught forward. However, when you have a wing playing outside defender that is a bit expected.
DCM – Obinna Nwobodo – 8
Obi had a quiet match by his standards. His 13 pressures were a season-low for matches in which he has started. Despite this, he still managed to lead the team in tackles (6), tackles won (5), and recoveries (15). To add to that, he won 8 of 11 ground duels.
Obi was also able to help keep the ball moving in possession. He had 8 progressive actions (4 carries, 4 passes) and 4 passes into the final 3rd. Furthermore, it was his excellent pressure that led to the turnover that created FCC’s final goal. The only real weakness for the Nigerian continues to be shot creation, where his numbers look more like those of a true 6 even though he plays as more of an 8 for the Orange and Blue.
DCM – Junior Moreno – 6
To the eye test, Moreno looked to have really upped his game against his former club. He was more active and seemed to be dropping into really good positions defensively. He managed 100% passing in possession, though only 1 of those passes was progressive.
He may well have been so good positionally that United simply didn’t try to play through him, but whether this is true or not his 0’s across the board in defensive statistics is troubling. Finally, he picked up a silly yellow card in the 1st half forcing his removal at halftime.
CAM – Lucho Acosta – 9
Despite Lucho finishing with “only” 1 goal and 1 assist, he was a key cog in the FC Cincinnati attack. His pass for Brenner’s first goal was perfectly weighted. He also showed really good strength to ride a challenge and get the ball to Brenner leading up to his 3rd. Even so, his best play might have been the sublime pass to send Brenner through on goal in the 76th minute, where the United goalkeeper was able to do just enough to keep Brenner from getting a clean look at goal.
Lucho was also the primary progressor of the ball for the Orange and Blue with a mind-blowing 22 progressive actions (10 passes, 12 carries). The thing keeping the captain from a perfect 10 continues to be his care for the ball. One expects him to turn the ball over some attempting dribbles or creative passes. However, it is his team-leading 5 mistouches that stand out for this one.
ST – Brenner – 9
Brenner’s first-half hat trick meant that FCC didn’t need to really worry about ever losing this match. All of his finishes were excellent, and he added an assist, albeit probably from a heavy touch rather than a pass, to cap things off. On top of this, his 6 progressive actions (5 passes, 1 carry) are an excellent tally for a forward.
But does he deserve a perfect 10? How is he not the man of the match after grabbing a hatty? He did fail to score on the aforementioned long ball from Lucho in the 76th minute. Furthermore, his 2nd goal really should have been defended much better, and may not have gone in with any other center back duo. Other than that, see below.
ST – Brandon Vazquez – 10 (Man of the Match)
It is probably very controversial to give Vazquez the perfect score and the man of the match honor over Brenner, but I am a sucker for a striker racking up assists. Brandon’s flick header for Lucho’s opener was absolutely absurd. If you were watching in standard definition, you’d be forgiven for thinking his other 2 assists were Lucho Acosta’s as the big striker showed soft feet and great vision on both.
But why a perfect 10? For me, this one comes down to all of the pancake-fueled background work that Vazquez does. He put in a major shift, climbing to 3rd on the team with 16 pressures. He also had 8 progressive actions (4 passes, 4 carries) and led the team with 4 key passes.
Yuya Kubo (46th minute) – 8
Yuya got the early call to enter the match at halftime due to Moreno’s yellow card, and he once again made a pretty good case to be a starter in that position. He was an excellent 95% passing and was 2nd on the team with .4 xA. He was also a monster defensively. Of his 12 pressures, 6 led to turnovers. He also added 4 tackles (3 successful). All of these numbers put him among the team leaders in only 45 minutes of action.
The biggest upgrade that Yuya provides over Moreno is his ball progression. He was able to provide 11 progressive actions (5 passes, 6 carries), putting him in Lucho Acosta territory. However, as with most things, this is a give and take. Kubo lost Fletcher on the give-and-go that led to United’s 2nd goal, and he got dribbled twice in his half of play.
Ray Gaddis (60th minute) – 6
Gaddis entered the match for a badly tiring (maybe hurt?) Powell in the 6oth minute with a 5-2 lead. He took his opportunity to play with some freedom, contributing 3 shot-creating actions and an accurate cross. He was also active defensively, adding 4 pressures, 2 interceptions, and 1 each of blocks and tackles.
Ian Murphy (70th minute) – 6
Entering the match for Nick Hagglund in the 70th minute to see out the win, you’d expect Murphy’s passing to be a bit better than the 75% that he mustered. However, he defended aggressively, won his only ground duel, and contributed 2 progressive actions (1 carry, 1 pass).
Dom Badji (85th minute) – N/A
Rónald Matarrita (88th minute) – N/A
Availability Notes: Other than backup goalkeepers the squad was fully healthy for this match.
- 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
- xA – Expected assist (or xA) is directly related to the xG of a shot that the pass creates.
- Post-Shot xG (PSxG) – 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).