FC Cincinnati put their top-of-the-Eastern-Conference status on the line against a heavily rotated Philadelphia Union squad on Saturday. Despite the Union looking like they were content to clog things up, slow things down, and try to escape TQL Stadium with a draw, FCC grabbed a hard-earned 1-0 victory behind a penalty kick goal from Lucho Acosta. The win left them not only top of the East, but also leading the Supporter’s Shield standings.
Let’s look at what FCC players contributed most to this victory.
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 – 1.7, Philadelphia Union – 0.7, per mlssoccer.com
Now onto the ratings:
Manager – Pat Noonan – 7
I’m going to be a bit harsh on the gaffer here, but I think that Jim Curtin won the battle of the minds despite not getting the victory on the field. Noonan was clearly unprepared for Philadelphia’s park-the-bus game plan coupled with their previously unseen 5-3-2 formation. But, who would be? The problem here is less about being prepared and more about making adjustments. Noonan limited his first half adjustments to trying to play Marco Angulo further forward in the first half, and his team generated precious few chances.
In the second, it appeared that Noonan tried to get his team playing in layers, that is, stacking players in the same area of the pitch. This meant that when Lucho checked to receive a ball, there was always a striker checking behind him. That change allowed FCC to take a bit more control of the match, but they still only generated one meaningful chance (Vazquez’s rocket cross to Brenner that the Brazilian barely made contact with) until Curtin turned the urgency meter up for his team to go for the win.
Regardless, Noonan’s team got that win instead of his Prada-wearing counterpart. I thought his substitutions were well-timed and impactful, and he did just enough with his adjustments to keep his team on top.
GK – Roman Celentano – 7.5
Though Roman didn’t have a ton to do on the night, he made the saves that he needed to make. His only nervy moment between the sticks came in the 88th minute when he saw an Alejandro Bedoya shot late and could only push it back into the middle of the box. Luckily his defenders were there to clear.
He also looked quite capable in distribution. However, the same can’t be said of his work when receiving back passes. Twice he looked very uncertain when under pressure by a Philadelphia attacker and nearly gave the ball up. Nervy moments aside, Celentano continues to do all of the things you want from a top goalkeeper.
RWB – Santiago Arias – 6.5
I’m nominating Arias as the player that I’ll get the most crap on Twitter for his score (if anyone has a good name for it, tweet at me @FCCincyTacTalk). Fans have fallen in love with the Columbian, and I get it. In a position where FCC has failed to put up consistent performers since their MLS inception, Arias has the pedigree to be different. Thusly, whenever I criticize him I get flack, and I’ve even heard calls for him to be Saturday’s Man-of-the-Match. However, I just haven’t seen it yet.
In his 72 minutes on the pitch, he had average (at best) numbers for passing percentage (75.4%), progressive passes (1), and progressive carries (1). His one key pass occurred on a breakaway in the 57th minute, where to my eye, he dribbled too wide of the near post limiting his options and making the defense’s job easier. Furthermore, he only had two crosses and neither found a target. His defense continues to be top-notch though. He won 5 of 7 ground duels and contributed 2 tackles won, 2 blocks, and 3 interceptions. WhoScored and FotMob both give him higher marks than me… so let the Twitter rants begin!
RCB – Nick Hagglund – 7
Hagglund’s 85% passing, 2 of 2 ground duels won, and 6 of 9 aerial duels won means he did all of the necessary bits of a center back. His 4 progressive passes and 1 shot-creating action are both good stats for his position. Finally, his 1 tackle won, and 3 interceptions are commensurate with his defensive compatriots because of Philadelphia’s reluctance to attack. So why only a 7?
Hagglund played well, but he didn’t stand out. He didn’t drive the ball forward on the dribble as often as I think he had the space to. He didn’t hit any long diagonals (the kind of pass that is needed to beat a parked bus defense). Finally, he failed to deal with a straight-forward Union long ball in the 53rd minute that ended in a very good scoring opportunity that (luckily) Bueno hit over the bar.
CB – Matt Miazga – 9 (Man-of-the-Match)
If you need any more evidence of Miazga’s dominance, he was the highest-rated player on WhoScored, and tied for that honor on FotMob, and both of these platforms overweight goals and assists. First, let’s talk possession since FCC had a ton of it. Miazga’s 96% passing would be very good by itself. But couple that with leading all center backs with 5 progressive passes and 2 shot-creating actions, and it becomes eye-popping. He completed a RIDICULOUS 30 of 31 passes that traveled longer than 30 yards.
Round that out with a defensive performance that included winning all 4 of his ground duels, 4 of 5 of his aerial duels, a successful tackle, and 3 interceptions and you have a Man-of-the-Match performance.
LCB – Yerson Mosquera – 7.5
In a match where defenders needed to be ready to win long balls and defend in transition but also willing to contribute a ton offensively, Mosquera stepped up. He won all 7 of his aerial duels on the night and contributed 2 interceptions. What really stood out, however, were his 4 progressive carries. I mentioned on The Walkthrough that I thought there would be space for the outside center backs to impact the game by carrying forward, and “Ourson” did his best.
However, even with those carries, he wasn’t very influential. He failed to create a shot and had 0 key passes. Furthermore, he was dispossessed once and was credited for a mistouch.
LWB – Álvaro Barreal – 5.5
In a game that screamed for an influential attacker on the outside, Barreal struggled to impact the game. His 2 progressive passes and 1 progressive carry were far below what was needed. He also failed to create a shot or provide a key pass. Defensively he only managed to contribute a single block and win only 1 of his 4 ground duels.
However, he also didn’t make many mistakes. He was dispossessed once and credited with a mistouch, but neither occurred in difficult areas. He was also dribbled once but was able to force the attacker wide enough in the process so as not to be too dangerous.
DCM – Junior Moreno – 9
I came into these ratings expecting to name Junior the Man-of-the-Match, and he was that good. Without Obi and with the Union absolutely clamping down on Lucho and Brenner in the midfield, someone needed to step up and advance the ball. Anyone who has listened to many episodes of Talking Tactics knows that I’ve been critical of Moreno’s ability to do so. Well, he shocked me by being that guy on Saturday, leading the team with 10 progressive passes to go with his 99% pass success.
So why didn’t he get the award? Other than the fact that Miazga was near flawless, Junior still failed to be decisive in the match. He didn’t manage a key pass and had only 1 shot-creating action. He also uncharacteristically had 2 mistouches and was dispossessed twice.
DCM – Marco Angulo – 5
I so badly want Angulo to be good. When I scouted him, I labeled him “Ecuadorian Kante.” I think he has all the tools to be a dominant midfielder in this league. However, he simply hasn’t put it together yet. Beyond his 2 mistouches, which are expected for a youngster, he nearly committed another critical error early in the match when he was dispossessed in a bad part of the field. Consequently, he began playing very conservatively and strung together a 97% pass success rate while only managing 3 progressive passes and 0 progressive carries.
I still think Angulo will prove to be a good transfer once he settles in. However, he needs the safety of playing in a team that has Obi and Lucho in it before he can start to show us what he’s really made of.
CAM – Lucho Acosta – 6
If Arias wasn’t so clearly beloved, I think my rating of Lucho might garner me more flack. After all, the FCC talisman created and scored the penalty that won the match. However, I think he had a very inconsistent game and was borderline terrible in the first half. His 79% passing, 5 progressive passes, and 3 progressive carries were all good for a player in his position. However, I have come to expect excellence. His 4 shot-creating actions led the team but also fell short of my expectations.
At the end of the first half in particular, Lucho had several moments where a bit of quality could have opened the game up, but he failed to deliver. He received the ball in transition and overhit a ball for Vazquez that would have led to a 2v2 break. He received a ball from an Arias forward run at the top of the box and promptly turned it over. Finally, he squandered what was probably the clearest opportunity of the half when Brenner tried to combine with him at the top of the box, and he popped it up and out of bounds for a goal kick.
ST – Brenner – 6.5
You can pick a lot of nits with Brenner’s play, but in my opinion, effort can’t be one of them. The young Brazilian is constantly checking from the front, spinning off defenders, and making runs into the box. His link-up play has been absolutely key to the Orange and Blue’s successes of late. However, partly because of Philadelphia’s fantastic defense and partly because of a few miscues he struggled to make an impact on this match.
The most telling stat for me is that he only received 3 progressive passes. That shows that he struggled to find space when checking, or at least his team struggled to find him in space. Then, the few times he got it he either played directly backward or tried to do too much. He led the team in giveaways, with 3 mistouches and 4 dispossessions. This score might look different had his goal prior to Lucho’s penalty been awarded. But as of now, I think 6.5 from a lack of overall impact is fair.
ST – Brandon Vazquez – 7
With Philadelphia’s packed midfield, FCC needed to play a bit more direct and find a target. However, they failed to try this often enough, limiting Brandon’s impact on the match. He managed only 26 touches… fewest by far of any outfield starter. When they did play direct to him, he managed some pretty effective holdup play, drawing 2 fouls and hitting an inch-perfect cross in the 59th minute that Brenner really should have done better with.
Despite this lack of involvement, he still managed 3 shot-creating actions. He was also 2nd on the team with 7 progressive passes received.
Malik Pinto (62nd minute) – 6.5
As the youngest player to participate in the match for FCC, Pinto looked more than capable once again. He was calm on the ball, completing 90% of his passes and only being dispossessed once (his first touch when coming onto the pitch). It will be interesting if his solid performances will continue to get him more looks, or if the coaching staff will continue to favor players that might provide more upside. Pinto didn’t manage a progressive pass or a key pass, and couldn’t quite squeeze the ball through in one good transition opportunity that could have led to a breakaway.
Sergio Santos (73rd minute) – 5
Santos didn’t have a ton of time to impact the match. However, even in his limited minutes, I would have expected more than 7 touches. He ran around like crazy and was able to win a tackle, but he didn’t impact the match in any other way other than straying offside when Badji smashed a shot that could have led to a rebound opportunity.
Ray Gaddis (73rd minute) – 6
Ray was brought into the match for Arias for some defensive stability and fresh legs down the stretch when Philadelphia was really starting to press for an equalizer. And defensively stable he was. He didn’t get dribbled, won a tackle, and won his only ground duel.
However, in possession, when his veteran guile was needed more than ever, he was uncharacteristically nervy. He managed only 70% passing accuracy and had 2 mistouches.
Alvas Powell (90th minute +1) – N/A
Dom Badji (90th minute + 1) – N/A
Availability Notes: Yuya Kubo (knee), Obinna Nwobodo (hamstring)
- 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).