FC Cincinnati welcomed Nashville SC into TQL stadium on Saturday with the prospects of moving one step closer to claiming the Supporters’ Shield. Things took a wrong turn when, after FCC dominated the opening minutes of the match, it was Nashville that claimed a lead through a Walker Zimmerman close range strike in the 31st minute. However, the Orange and Blue didn’t look shaken and drew even through a Lucho Acosta penalty kick before the halftime whistle. From there, things were all Cincinnati until Taylor Washington and Fafà Picault were both awarded 2nd yellows and sent off in the 68th and 70th minutes, respectively. Santiago Arias got the game-winner minutes later, and new Summer signing Aaron Boupendza added a third just before the final whistle.
Let’s look at where your favorite FCC players ranked for this match.
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 – 1.8, New England – 0.5, per mlssoccer.com
Now onto the ratings:
Manager – Pat Noonan – 9
Pat Noonan must have been elated to have his first team all back into the fold for this match. He elected to slot Brandon Vazquez and Matt Miazga both straight into the starting lineup. For now, that seems to have been the right call, though we’ll see if they break down as the season goes on.
I absolutely loved Noonan’s tactical twist, which saw FC Cincinnati more emphasizing the right side of the attack. In possession, Noonan had Junior Moreno dropping deep on the left and Lucho on the right, pushing both wingbacks forward and providing a balanced attack using the entire width of the pitch. I would have downgraded Pat for not getting Arias off the pitch when the team was up 2 men, and he was tiptoeing dangerously down the 2nd yellow card line, but Arias scored the game-winner so ultimately, I can’t.
I won’t give Noonan a perfect score here because he could have used more subs after Arias put the team ahead, saving some legs as well as giving a few players added minutes, but all in all he managed a fantastic match.
GK – Roman Celentano – 4
Roman Celentano wasn’t credited with a single save in this match. His main involvement came in the 31st minute when he came out bravely in the 31st minute to punch a Hany Mukhtar free kick that was lumped into the box, but then was largely responsible for the goal that came shortly after. As Randall Leal swung the ball in from the FCC right, Celentano should have caught the ball. If not, he could have pushed the ball wide and out of danger. Instead, he did neither and set up Walker Zimmerman perfectly for the opening goal.
Whether his big mistake shook his confidence or not, we can’t know. However, in the 91st minute, Mosquera clearly shielded the ball, expecting Roman to come get it, but ended up having to kick it into the stands when the young goalkeeper stayed rooted to his line – and that’s the play that set up the long throw that resulted in the late Nashville penalty shout. No real positive contributions to speak of and one big negative one equals out to a poor score, but it’s tough to fault him too much in a game where he had nothing to do.
RWB – Santiago Arias – 7.5
As mentioned above, Noonan thrust Arias into the action by setting up Lucho Acosta on his side. Santi ended the match 3rd on the team in progressive passes received with 7. He didn’t reward his manager through most of the match, passing at just a 69% rate and managing only 2 crosses. However, he was capable enough to force Nashville to defend sideline to sideline and ultimately scored the game-winning goal through an excellent give-and-go with Lucho Acosta.
Outside of the goal Arias’s biggest contribution was in how much of a nuisance he was to his opponents. Getting into 7 duels (winning 4), Santi also drew 3 fouls while committing 3 of his own. His defensive stats weren’t eye-popping (1 tackle, 1 interception), but he was bothersome enough to cause Fafà Picault to barge into his back, picking up a 2nd yellow. Arias is quietly adding some much-needed heft on FCC’s right side of the pitch.
RCB – Nick Hagglund – 6
Nick Hagglund also benefited from FCC’s renewed emphasis on the right side of the pitch, leading all defenders in progressive passes with 6. He also had 6 passes into the final third. However, he unfortunately had 2 mistouches and completed an average 76.5% of his passes.
Defensively, Nicky Haggs was stout, contributing a tackle, a block, and 3 interceptions. However, the Cincinnati Kid has looked to be hobbled since coming back from injury. In this match he won just 5 of 9 aerial duels, continuing a trend of non-dominance that started just after his injury. One would have to wonder if he would be continuing to start if Noonan trusted any of his defensive replacements.
CB – Matt Miazga – 8
Matt Miazga was a welcome sign in the middle of FCC’s back 3. It is not a coincidence that Nashville generated only .6xG, with .5 of that coming from the recycled set piece that led to Zimmerman’s goal. Beyond marshalling the back line and tracking Hany Mukhtar into midfield on numerous occasions, Miazga also contributed a tackle and 2 interceptions, won both of his ground duels, and won 6 of 8 aerial duels.
Miazga’s less heralded but just as important contributions to the team come on the offensive side of the ball. His ability to split lines is invaluable to this team in possession. He had a key pass and 4 passes into the final third to go along with an incredible 3 shot-creation actions in this match.
LCB – Yerson Mosquera – 8
“Ourson” Mosquera’s ability to defend in open space makes him the best outside center back in the league. He showed this in the 54th minute when Hany Mukhtar, many a pundit’s choice for MLS MVP, got out and running at him in full transition. Mosquera turned and matched him stride for stride before separating him from the ball as if he was just another run-of-the-mill attacker in MLS. Yerson made 4 tackles while adding 2 blocks and an interception. His aggression doesn’t always pay off (he was dribbled 4 times), but with 2 other center backs behind him it doesn’t need to.
In possession, Mosquera has also been quite capable, where he added a shot-creating action and 4 progressive passes to his impressive defensive line.
LWB – Álvaro Barreal – 6
Barreal had a quiet game by his lofty standards. This was caused by FC Cincinnati attacking down the right side a bit more often and Nashville trying to pin him back by attacking down his side nearly half of the time. Still, he had several opportunities to create chances for his teammates, including 9 crosses, but he wasn’t able to do so. He ended the match with just 2 shot-creating actions and no key passes.
Barreal was active defensively, blocking 5 passes and adding 2 interceptions. However, he was dribbled three times and failed to record a tackle. Overall, he did enough in this match to not be a liability, but also didn’t stand out.
DCM – Junior Moreno – 8.5
Junior is as Junior does. His 90.4% passing led all starters, and he didn’t record a mistouch and wasn’t dispossessed. However, in this match, he was also given a slightly different role by Noonan, pushing forward as a left-sided #8, leaving Obi to defend alone as the #6. He did this to great effect, recording 7 progressive passes, 4 shot-creating actions, and 2 key passes.
Being pressed forward seemed to suit him defensively as well, as he had less of the field to cover. His 1 tackle and 2 interceptions isn’t incredible, but he uncharacteristically also got into 5 ground duels, winning 4.
DCM – Obi Nwobodo – 9 (Man of the Match)
Obi Nwobodo is an important part of FC Cincinnati’s defense at all moments, but none more so than when the team is pressing or defending in transition. His speed, range, and tackling make him a vital part of not letting teams get on the front foot against FCC. He helped create FCC’s first clear opportunity in the 13′ when he tracked back to deflect a pass bound for Mukhtar. He tackled the ball away from Hany in transition in the 30′, chasing the speedster down from behind. In all, he led the team in tackles (6) and recoveries (13), while winning 7 of 9 ground duels.
Where Obi really turned up his excellence in this match was on the offensive side of the ball, where he completed 87.5% of his passes while contributing 8 progressive passes and 8 passes into the final third. Nwobodo has proven that he can play as a single pivot, and if Noonan elects to continue that way I’m excited to see what he can do.
CAM – Lucho Acosta – 8.5
Stephen Wood tweeted at me and summed up Lucho’s performance rather aptly. “Acosta. Was. Amazing (mostly).”
Lucho’s assist on the game-winning goal was sublime. He led the team in progressive passes (9), shot-creating actions (9), xG (.9), and xA (.7). His penalty was well-taken, and he ran the show for FC Cincinnati to perfection. However, Lucho also had 3 mistouches, was dispossessed once, and passed with only a 66.7% completion rate. He turned the ball over in many key spots where completing a pass would have led to a good opportunity. In all, it’s scary to think how many shot-creating actions he would have if he could have completed 10% more of his passes.
Lucho also sets the tone for this team’s defensive press. His 3 tackles don’t even include the play where he picked Zimmerman’s pocket and scored before VAR intervened. I feel like a broken record on Lucho when I once again say, “Lucho had a fantastic match, but it could have been better.”
ST – Sergio Santos – 5
The announcers in this match continued to say that Sergio Santos was playing “the agitator.” What they meant is that the offense was focused through Vazquez while Santos got to run around, chase loose balls, help in the press, and be a general nuisance to the Nashville defense. And, if that was his only goal, then he was successful.
However, one would think that Santos also wanted to be a valuable part of the offense, and if that was his goal, he wasn’t quite up to snuff. He passed at only a 53.3% rate, wasn’t successful with either of his take-ons, and had zeros across the board in shot-creating actions, shots, and key passes. I assume that he’ll find himself in a super-sub role once Boupendza is ready to start for the team.
ST – Brandon Vazquez – 7.5
Vazquez may not have scored in this match but he showed fantastic holdup play throughout. He often dropped in to link up play, holding up or flicking on long balls out from the back line. His improvement in this area has been fantastic. It was exemplified by a play in the 33′ where he checks to receive a pass on the ground from Hagglund, fakes as if he’s going to turn and play to his left, then cuts the ball back under pressure toward his right and is fouled in the process setting up a dangerous FC Cincinnati free kick. In all, he received 7 progressive passes and it really looked like the offense was geared to running through him as a target.
Brandon also wasn’t absent from the scoresheet. He forced Willis into a difficult save by beating MacNaughton to the inside and shooting well with his left foot in the 53rd minute, had 2 shot-creating actions, and assisted Boupendza’s goal at the end of the match.
Aaron Boupendza (75th minute) – 7
“Boup” entered the match in the 75th minute, just after Nashville was reduced to 9 men. He was extremely active, racking up 18 touches in his short time on the pitch. Despite his short stint, he led the team with 3 shots. His first shot showed the capability of his laser-rocket left foot, and his goal was well-taken. However, his limitations were also displayed in his 67% passing. Tough to judge him by his first appearance, but so far it looks like my scouting report of him holds true. Boupendza is a goal scorer, and so long as his teammates provide him with the opportunities, he’s going to score goals.
Alvas Powell (82nd minute) – N/A
Marco Angulo (90th minute +1) – N/A
Ian Murphy (90th minute +1) – N/A
Availability Notes: Dom Badji (quad), Dado Valenzuela (quad), Yuya Kubo (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).