FC Cincinnati played over 60 minutes with a man advantage in its opening Leagues Cup match after Sporting KC had a man sent off for violent conduct. Despite this advantage, the Orange and Blue still looked like the team that was least likely to score. Then, down 3-2 in second-half stoppage time, a Lucho Acosta shot was handled in the box giving the captain the opportunity to level the score with the last kick of the game. FCC went on to score four penalties in the ensuing shootout, while SKC missed one spot kick and had another saved by Alec Kann. The shootout win preserved FCC’s home unbeaten streak and gave them an extra point in the League’s Cup Standings.
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.
*Note: FBRef does not provide data for League’s Cup Matches, so statistics used were mostly taken from FotMob.
- 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 – 2.9, Sporting Kansas City – 2.3, per mlssoccer.com
Now onto the ratings:
Manager – Pat Noonan – 5.5
Sporting KC’s offense has been humming of late, scoring a total of eight goals in their four matches in July, coming into the League’s Cup. For that reason, it was curious to see Pat Noonan elect to sit, in my opinion, his two most important defensive players in Matt Miazga and Obi Nwobodo. To begin the match, FCC’s pressing was out of sync and SKC punished them with two goals in the first 12 minutes. Then, Alan Pulido gifted the Orange and Blue a man advantage and Noonan’s job instantly became much different. A weather delay followed shortly after, allowing the gaffer to talk to his players and sort out their game plan going forward.
Coming out of that delay, FCC had been given the obvious directive to try to play up the right side more often, shifting Acosta to that side and pushing Alvas Powell further into the attack. However, the team still looked stagnant heading into halftime.
To his credit, Noonan saw that Malik Pinto and Nick Hagglund were out of their depth in the first half and made halftime changes, bringing on Miazga and Nwobodo. Then, with the score tied at 2, he made the bold move to sub Yuya Kubo in at right wing-back to bolster the offense. That said, up a man and down a goal, Noonan waited until the 85th minute to shift out of his 3-5-2 and really go for an all-out attack. Furthermore, even if Aaron Boupendza was on a minutes restriction, I question the choice to sub Sergio Santos into a game that had no space to run into due to the opponent sitting so deep.
GK – Alec Kann – 6
It is really tough to grade Kann in this match. While he absolutely couldn’t have been expected to stop Hagglund’s fantastic diving header that opened the scoring for Sporting, one could be highly suspicious of his failing to come out and punch away the free kick that brought their second.
That said, Kann made a good reaction save in the 84th minute to deny SKC a fourth goal that would have certainly sealed the win for the visitors. Finally, he made the decisive save in the penalty shootout to earn the extra point for the home side.
RWB – Alvas Powell – 6
Powell was not given any favors in this match. While SKC attacked down his side for the majority of the match, Pinto and Hagglund struggled to provide the wingback with much support. That said, he also didn’t cover himself with glory, getting beat frequently with 1-2 passes, giving up a penalty, and getting dribbled once.
Going forward, Powell was solid though ineffective. His 81 percent passing was good, but only included one accurate cross and netted only .01 xA. However, he was able to complete two dribbles. Also, Powell’s fantastic line-splitting pass to Alvaro Barreal in transition led to Acosta earning the penalty that eventually tied the game.
RCB – Nick Hagglund – 4
A lot went wrong leading up to Hagglund’s own goal that gave SKC its first lead. For his part, Hagglund came off of Pulido in the buildup, forcing him into the last ditch effort to clear that resulted in his spectacular finish into his own net. Outside of this moment, Hagglund struggled consistently. He looked lost on how to deal with left-back Tim Leibold underlapping on his side. He also couldn’t seem to get a handle on communicating with Powell and Pinto to shut Sporting’s constant attack down the FCC right. Finally, Daniel Rosero may have been his mark when the SKC center back doubled the visitor’s lead in the 12th minute.
In the end, Hagglund was yanked at halftime, showing that his first-half performance was noticed by more than just me. One has to wonder if he is carrying a nagging injury since he hasn’t looked the same since returning from his spell on the sidelines following the Hell is Real Derby in late May.
CB – Yerson Mosquera – 6.5
FC Cincinnati gave up more goals at TQL in this match than in any other home match this season. Accordingly, Yerson Mosquera had some big mistakes in the center of defense. Talking about Hagglund’s own goal, Mosquera bit hard on Gadi Kinda in the buildup allowing his pass down the wing to Kyrie Shelton to be easy. He did so again a few minutes later on Tim Leibold, this time fouling and picking up an early yellow card. To make matters worse, Rosero scored from the resulting free kick, and Mosquera was partially responsible for marking him. Mosquera’s night was summed up pretty well when he completely quit on a play in the 84th minute allowing Shelton to waltz in on goal, but was luckily bailed out by a Kann save from point-blank range.
That said, Mosquera’s night was not without its high points. He did well showing his passing ability from his central position, passing at a 91 percent clip and completing four of six long balls. The Columbian had a particularly lovely long diagonal to Barreal that led to FCC’s corner which resulted in their first goal. He also flashed several line-splitting passes finding Acosta in pockets of space. His 0.14 xA was good enough for third on the team, which is pretty great for a central defender.
LCB – Ian Murphy – 6
Sometimes it seems like Ian Murphy can’t get out of his own way. He began this match by being late to press Felipe Gutierrez in the buildup to SKC’s first goal, then fouling in a way that not only didn’t stop the play but also earned him an early yellow card. After that, he seemed to settle down, probably helped in part by being on the side of the field that SKC seemingly ignored in their attack. He finished with a tackle and two interceptions.
Murphy also showed some good moments in possession. He passed at a 94 percent rate, completed both of his long passes and added eight passes into the final third. He also did really well to peel off his defender, then rise to meet Acosta’s cross in the 34th minute, though his header caromed off the crossbar and needed a lucky bounce off the SKC goalkeeper to wind up in the back of the net and get the comeback started for the Orange and Blue.
LWB – Álvaro Barreal – 7
Álvaro Barreal had a good offensive performance even though he failed to register a goal or an assist. His 0.66 xA and 0.42 xA are indicative of the threat he provided going forward. He finished the match with 90 percent passing accuracy, 11 passes into the final third and two shots on target. One of those shots, in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time, followed a great run and drew a fantastic save out of the SKC goalkeeper. Lastly, he led all FCC players with six key passes.
Barreal’s effort was noticeable on a day when many players were a step slow to close down the opposition. He tied for tops on the team, winning 71.4 percent of his duels. He also added a blocked shot, an interception and a tackle. The one black mark on his play in this match was his accuracy when crossing the ball. Barreal only found a teammate with two of his 11 crosses.
DCM – Junior Moreno – 5.5
Junior Moreno looked a step off the pace of the game to me all match. Defensively he was spinning in circles, winning only 43 percent of his duels and failing to win a tackle or intercept a pass. He was very late to step forward and pressure in the ninth minute, starting the domino effect that led to Hagglund putting the visitors on the scoreboard. In all, he was dribbled past twice. Some of this might have to do with the play of his midfield partner (see below), but as the veteran on the pitch, I would have liked to see him rise to the occasion rather than shrink under the pressure.
Offensively, Moreno was solid if unspectacular. He completed 84 percent of his passes but only created one chance. He was able to log a shot, but couldn’t put it on target. Finally, in a match where the team needed to move the ball quickly and accurately, he attempted only one long ball.
DCM – Malik Pinto – 4.5
Pinto has impressed me in most of his play this season, but not in this match. He struggled to get into the game, logging only 18 touches in his half of play. When he was on the ball he was tidy, completing 92 percent of his passes. However, he didn’t create much going forward, logging zero key passes and only two passes into the final third.
Defensively, the youngster really struggled. He was charged with covering FCC’s right side, where SKC attacked the majority of the first half. Pinto completely lost his runner in the 11th minute, leading to Mosquera’s rash challenge that earned the Columbian his early yellow card and gave SKC a free kick, from which they promptly doubled their lead. He was constantly beaten in behind by Leibold after simple give-and-go passes. If not for Nick Hagglund, Pinto would be wearing the goat horns after this match.
CAM – Lucho Acosta – 7.5 (Man-of-the-Match)
In a match where not many FCC players stood out, Acosta gets man-of-the-match for doing so, even though he wasn’t consistent. In big moments, the captain came up big. Acosta was quick to take advantage of a Jake Davis mistake to set up Brandon Vazquez for his game-tying goal in the 57th minute. He was a stone-cold killer in depositing both of his spot kicks (one to tie the match and another in the shootout). Finally, his 78 percent passing was more than good enough for a player at his position.
However, Lucho also had some head-clutching moments. His free kick in the 52nd minute was so poor that the wall gained possession of the ball and started the counterattack. Of his eight crosses, only two found targets. Finally, he was dispossessed once and dribbled past twice.
ST – Aaron Boupendza – 6.5
Aaron Boupendza showed some glimpses of the offensive threat he can provide for FCC in his first start for the club. The Gabonese international completed four of six dribbles, had three shots (two on target) and added a key pass. Where he really impressed me, however, was in his defensive work rate. Boupendza tied for the team lead with 14 duels, winning nine. He provided back pressure throughout the match and knocked the ball off of unsuspecting Sporting players several times. In all, he had four tackles with the team gaining possession on three of them.
“Boup” also had some moments that left me wanting more. His 68 percent passing was low due to several turnovers where he read the play differently than the person he was passing to. He also was credited with a big chance missed and picked up a maddening yellow card in the 50th minute for slamming the ball into the turf after he was fouled.
ST – Brandon Vazquez – 6.5
Brandon Vazquez has yet to hit anything close to his 2022 form. In this match, he was strangely absent managing only 21 touches despite playing the entire match, much of it 11v10. He got into very few duels (three) and was basically a non-factor defensively. He also missed a wide-open header in the 77th minute that could have tied the game at three with plenty of time for FCC to chase a fourth.
Still, Vazquez showed moments of quality movement and hold-up play. His 57th-minute goal might have been a glorified tap-in, but his excellent movement to pull off of Leibold is what made it so. He also added a key pass.
Matt Miazga (46th minute) – 6
Matt Miazga entered at halftime to replace Hagglund and shore up a ragged FCC defense. He played … fine, but never looked like the dominant version of himself that we typically see. He only registered one ground duel and one tackle. He was dominant in the air, winning all three of his air duels, but he was also beaten badly by Shelton in first minute of stoppage time, which could easily have led to SKC putting the match out of reach had it not been for Yuya Kubo’s last-ditch tackle.
Miazga was able to help the team quite a bit in possession from his defensive position. Not only did he complete 90 percent of his passes, he completed three of four long passes and registered six passes into the final third.
Obinna Nwobodo (46 minute) – 5.5
We don’t get to see Obi make many appearances off the bench, and perhaps this match was a good indication as to why. FCC desperately needed someone to cause some havoc in midfield and stop SKC from holding onto the ball for large stretches despite being down a man. However, Nwobodo only registered one tackle and one ball recovery while logging a meager two ground duels (though he won them both). He also failed to make an offensive impact on the match. He took care of the ball but wasn’t able to log a key pass and only logged two passes into the final third.
Sergio Santos (63rd minute) – 5
I mentioned above that I thought it was a mistake to put Santos into a match where he would be expected to operate in tight spaces. Santos wasn’t terrible but struggled to make any real impact on the match. He only hit the target with one of his two shots. The other one was a badly-missed 89th-minute chance to direct a Barreal cross towards goal that he hit well over the bar.
Yuya Kubo (63rd minute) – 6
Yuya Kubo came on to nominally play in the right wingback position though it was clear he was on the pitch to spark some life into the offense. Though he was lively in his 27 minutes, making constant runs up the right sideline, he struggled to do anything with the ball once he got there. Kubo logged zero key passes, zero shots and failed to hit an accurate cross. Oddly, his real impact came on the defensive side of the ball, where he made a really good tackle to deny Ndembe a certain game-sealing goal in the firstminute of stoppage time.
Marco Angulo (85th minute) – N/A
Availability Notes: Dom Badji (quad), Dado Valenzuela (quad), Santiago Arias (visa issues)
- 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).