This week FC Cincinnati two-stepped its way into Nashville and left with a win behind Brandon Vazquez’s first goal of the year. Despite the atmosphere being so … intimidating … the team managed to thoroughly outplay Nashville and move ahead of them in the table into second in the East. Nashville fans were treated to the creativity of things like “Cincinnati Sucks” and pouring chilli and spaghetti on some poor sap’s head but were also left witnessing their first home loss of the season.
Let’s look at what FCC players contributed most to this statement win.
Check out Cincinnati Soccer Talk’s post-match report HERE for more details.
- Each player starts off with a six 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 when possible.
- A player may receive a N/A if they are subbed on/off before any quantifiable statistics are available.
Expected Goals (xG): FC Cincinnati – 1.6, Nashville SC – 1.1, per mlssoccer.com
Now onto the ratings:
Manager – Pat Noonan – 10
Winning on the road is difficult in MLS. Winning on the road in Nashville has proven to be even more difficult for many teams. Winning on the road, in Nashville, starting a rookie midfielder and with no midfielders on the bench. Pat said, “Hold my beer.”
Despite all of that, Noonan set his team up with a conservative game plan in the first half that limited Nashville’s opportunities while forcing them to have the ball. Then, in the second half, it looked to me like he had his players make a concerted effort to interchange positions to challenge the Nashville back line. It paid dividends and his team remained unbeaten. It’s tough to pick out anything that could drop his score below a 10 for this match.
GK – Roman Celentano – 8
Celentano might not challenge for a best XI spot this season, but he is undoubtedly staking a claim as one of the league’s brightest young goalkeepers. He only had to make three saves on the night, but two of them came in quick succession off a Nashville corner in the first half. If he wasn’t on point for those, the entire match could have been different.
What’s more, he also had to come out and claim a few crosses, and did so confidently. He still needs to work on his distribution as only five of his 13 launched goal kicks found a teammate first, but it’s tough to see any way that Celentano gives up his starting spot any time soon.
RWB – Ray Gaddis – 7.5
The captain of “Team Tuck” might not produce eye-popping offensive stats, but he was solid going forward in this one. He contributed one shot-creating action, which is one more than I’d expect, so that’s a bonus. And, his 84 percent passing with four progressive passes was more than serviceable.
Defense is where Gaddis stood out this match, and that’s saying something considering he was faced with limiting the red-hot and speedy Jacob Shaffelburg. Shaffelburg got the best of Gaddis once, but then the veteran adjusted and locked down the right side of the pitch for the rest of the match until he was forced to play on the left down the stretch where he also was excellent.
Gaddis had 2 tackles and an interception and was second among defenders in recoveries with six. Arias is supposed to be the starter, and probably still is when 90 minutes fit, but Ray Ray has done more than enough to make me comfortable rolling him out as a serviceable replacement.
RCB – Nick Hagglund – 5.5
It’s tough to see Nicky Haggs graded below “average” in a match where the defense earned a clean sheet. However, it looked to me like he struggled knowing when to squeeze high on the ball side and when to drop into space to guard against players making runs from midfield into the half-spaces. Hagglund also failed to make a tackle, was dribbled once, and lost all three of his ground duels.
Offensively, Hagglund wasn’t much better, completing only 61.5 percent of his passes, with none of them being progressive. He wasn’t catastrophic on the night and didn’t make any big errors, but he wasn’t quite at his best, either.
CB – Matt Miazga – 8.5 (Man of the Match)
As the center of a back 3, Matt Miazga will very rarely get statistical love. The position is more about providing cover, delaying attackers and communicating than making tackles or interceptions. To my eye, he did all of these things superbly on the night. On several occasions, he had to venture wide to cover Shaffelburg or Hany Mukhtar in the half-spaces. Each time he sniffed out the danger, slowed the attacker and let his team recover behind him. He also managed to win four of six ground duels and all three of his aerial battles.
Miazga’s fire and effort are unquestioned. His leadership ranges from excellent to a bit hot-headed. But, his defensive presence has been outstanding for a team that is tied for fifth in MLS for goals against and sixth for xG against. Not too shabby.
LCB – Yerson Mosquera – 6
Mosquera had an up-and-down match in this one. He completed a respectable 76 percent of his passes, including three progressive passes. He also stood out with four blocked shots and five recoveries while adding a tackle and an interception. However, he also had a big giveaway in the first half that led to Mukhtar getting a free look at Celentano’s goal, and had a couple of shaky fouls in difficult positions.
Where Mosquera really needs to improve is in his duels. He won only two of six ground duels, and one of five aerial duels on the night. Not great numbers for any player but it’s REALLY not great numbers for a center back.
LWB – Álvaro Barreal – 7
On his day, Álvaro Barreal can be the most dangerous player on the pitch, considering his position. For a wingback to contribute three shot-creating actions, be an integral part of the build-up to the goal and hit five crosses is both impressive and vital to the way that the Orange and Blue want to attack. He has also made really good strides defensively. Facing an outstanding attacking right side in the form of Fafa Picault and Shaq Moore, Barreal earned two tackles and didn’t get dribbled past at all.
So why only a 7? Maybe I’m grading on a curve based on how good the young Argentinian can be, but he didn’t quite click into form in this match. His two progressive carries and one successful take-on were below his season average per 90 minutes. He only won three of his eight ground duels. Finally, his 68.2 percent passing is less than what I expect from him. All in all, a good, not great, performance.
DCM – Obinna Nwobodo – 8.5
Obi Nwobodo might deserve Man of the Match for how he kept Mukhtar in his pocket all night, but I didn’t want to overlook Matt Miazga’s performance. However, Obi was excellent in this match. His 82.5 percent passing included five progressive passes. He also contributed a shot-creating action and two passes into the final third. The only mark against him offensively continues to be his lack of key passes and progressive carries, both of which are in his skill set.
But Obi’s contribution defensively simply cannot be overlooked. In this regard, he might be the most important player on the team. In a match where he had a rookie playing alongside him for 60+ minutes, he logged a whopping five interceptions and 11 recoveries while winning five of his nine ground duels.
DCM – Malik Pinto – 6
Because I’m horribly inconsistent with these rankings and how I do them based on vibes, I’ll say that Pinto deserves a higher grade if I grade him on a curve. For a rookie in his professional debut to complete all 22 of his passes and only make one error (his yellow card at the end of the first half), that is better than the average rookie and deserves a higher score.
However, Pinto’s movement was far from ideal when in possession. He looked to me to struggle to get into space where he could be effective on the ball. This is reflected by the fact that he didn’t log a progressive action. Furthermore, despite his solid defensive positioning, he wasn’t able to snag more than a single tackle and one blocked shot.
CAM – Lucho Acosta – 8
Everyone knows by now that Lucho is irreplaceable to the FCC attack. In this match, he led the team in shot-creating actions (eight), key passes (six) and progressive actions (12). He also really should have had at least one assist.
The only negative to Lucho’s match in Nashville was the number of times he turned the ball over down the stretch when his team was holding on to a 1-0 lead. I tweeted (follow me @FCCincyTacTalk) that I was impressed by how the team was picking their times to transition forward and keeping the ball when the break wasn’t “on.” Lucho proceeded to turn the ball over in transition two or three times after that. The midfielder undoubtedly has magic in his boots, but up 1-0 on the road sometimes I’d rather that he show more game intelligence by slowing things down.
ST – Brenner – 8
Brenner was another candidate for Man of the Match here for me. His eight progressive actions and three shot-creating actions are an excellent stat line. He also led the team with 0.6 xG. However, failing to score on any of his three pretty golden opportunities could have cost the team.
Brenner’s most impressive stat-line for me in this one was his 10 progressive passes received. His movement to drop in and link up play has been vital to how FCC wants to attack. In the first half, when he did very little of this, the team was fairly stagnant. But when he let loose in the second half, the team opened things up as well.
ST – Brandon Vazquez – 8
I actually don’t think Vazquez had as good of a game as Brenner, top to bottom. His 28 touches were the fewest of any outfield starter other than Malik Pinto. His 76 percent passing was adequate but not great. Finally, I actually think he overhit the pass on his one shot-creating action causing Brenner to have to try to finish at the near post when there was plenty of space to set up a far-post shot.
But goals win games, and the target man was on point the moment his team needed him. He also does so much “dirty” work for the team in hold-up play and battling for 50/50 balls that he remains an important player even when he’s not scoring.
Santiago Arias (64th minute) – 6
“Santi” did an admirable job filling in as a make-shift midfielder when he came on for Malik Pinto in the 64th minute. He showed his quality on the ball by completing all nine of his passes and setting up two shots in his 27 or so minutes on the pitch.
However, “make-shift” describes his defensive performance pretty well. Once he came on, the midfield was much less positionally sound, and he went walkabout a few times chasing the ball. He was also dribbled once and failed to record a tackle or an interception.
Sergio Santos (76th minute) – 5
Santos came on for Brenner with one purpose: pressure the opponent, stretch the field and see out the game. Though he didn’t misplace a pass, he was dispossessed once and tried to take on an opponent twice with no success. I also felt that he wasn’t much of a defensive presence, and his zeroes across the board in that department make me think that I’m right.
Alvas Powell (90th minute) – N/A
Dom Badji (90th minute) – N/A
Availability Notes: Yuya Kubo (leg), Junior Moreno (International Duty), Marco Angulo (International Duty)
- 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).