FC Cincinnati will look to continue its hot start to the season and its undefeated home record when rival Columbus Crew comes to town.
Since FCC’s loss to St. Louis CITY SC, the team has looked a little more like its record might suggest, with the offense getting more involved and the defense still as stout as ever. That was highlighted by the side’s 3-0 domination of CF Montreal on Wednesday. FCC was also able to give some of its players some rest late in the matchup.
FCC seemed to meld well offensively on Wednesday, with most of the players knowing where others would be and the kind of runs they would make. If FCC makes those types of runs and has that kind of chemistry moving forward, then the team will skyrocket in form, and it is already ranked first in the Supporters Shield.
One of the team’s most important players, Brandon Vazquez, didn’t really start the season well in terms of goals, but in the last six matchups, he has three goals and has seemed to be getting more like last season. Last season Vazquez seemed unphased by noise (oncoming defenders or the goalkeeper) whenever he had a scoring opportunity, and I think we’re seeing that return.
What doesn’t need any noticeable improvement is the team’s defense. In the team’s six matches in all competitions since St. Louis, it has allowed only three goals, including only one against Supporters Shield opponent New England Revolution.
Yerson Mosquera, Matt Miazga and Nick Hagglund look great together and really complement one another’s strengths and weaknesses. It will be a shame when Mosquera leaves, as the side looks outstanding.
Rival Columbus Crew currently has a record of 5-3-4, 18 points and is fifth in the Eastern Conference. The side has scored 23 goals on the season and allowed 14, compared to FCC’s 18 and 12 respectively.
Columbus has had matches this season where it has looked unstoppable, as it had six goals against Atlanta United, four against Real Salt Lake and five against Loudoun United, the latter of which wasn’t counted in their season totals.
Lucas Zelarayán has shown why he’s one of the best players in the entire league this season, with five goals and three assists so far, being the team’s leading scorer. Aidan Morris and Christian Ramirez have also done well for the side, having scored three goals apiece.
However, a shocker for Columbus is that star striker Cucho Hernández only has one goal this season. While he’s played only six matches on the season, that’s still far away from what Columbus expects from its big-money man. I fully expect him to come around, because he has the talent to be one of the best in the league. His four assists are a great statistic and show that FCC will need to watch the willing runners whenever he has the ball.
WhoScored.com said Columbus Crew’s strengths include finishing their scoring chances and defending set pieces. The site also said the team’s weaknesses include protecting their leads, winning aerial duels and stopping opponents from creating chances. Columbus’ style of play includes short passing, playing possession football and playing the offsides trap.