Hi, everyone. “Not-thony Coach-tano” here, the Internet’s busiest soccer nerd, and it’s time for a review of your FC Cincinnati squad after their disappointing Leagues Cup exit against Nashville SC.
Technically it doesn’t count as a loss at TQL Stadium, but the results would tell you otherwise. After giving up a goal to Anibal Godoy in the 65th minute, the Orange & Blue needed a Brandon Vazquez penalty kick in the 85th minute to equalize.
Following multiple overtime periods, penalty kicks were required. Matt Miazga was the only Cincinnati player unable to convert his penalty kick in the bonus frame, while Nashville put all five past Alec Kann to advance.
A caveat here—Coach is taking the match off, so I’m stepping in to help with the player ratings, but I cannot do these without bringing up something vital, particularly when it comes to ratings.
In honor of this uncanny resemblance, I’m using Fantano’s scoring system. It’s no different from Coach’s system, but the numbers will be massaged using “light,” “decent,” and “strong” to indicate where they sit on the spectrum. For example, a “LIGHT 8” is lower than a “DECENT 8”, but higher than a “STRONG 7”. (Spoiler alert—you won’t see many 8’s on today’s ratings.)
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 – 1.63, Nashville SC – 0.86, per mlssoccer.com
Now onto the ratings:
Manager – Pat Noonan – DECENT 6
It’s hard to subtract any points from Noonan considering the level of play the team eventually hit in the second half, but it’s also hard to reward him for allowing the opposition to challenge Cincinnati to possess the ball. Nashville was going to assert its style of play by packing the back and challenging FCC to penetrate through the wings.
Noonan did well with the gamble of playing Bret Halsey as a sub, but the substitution of Yuya Kubo for Junior Moreno before bringing in Marco Angulo might have been a slight miscalculation. In general, you have to consider that Gary Smith outcoached Noonan on Friday night.
GK – Alec Kann – DECENT 6
On the plus side, Kann played a great 90 minutes to keep Cincinnati from being down worse in the first half, making solid stops against Fafa Picault in the 32nd minute and Godoy in the 42nd minute. His sprawling save to deny Dax McCarthy in the 65th minute would have been incredible, had Godoy not been there to pick up the rebound. His pass distributions in the short (92 percent) and long game (67 percent) were also better than the two group-stage matches. Had this not gone to penalty kicks, Kann could have been Man of the Match.
In the end, it comes down to how well Kann patrolled the penalty kicks. While the kicks by Picault and Godoy were almost impossible to defend, the other three kicks were predicted incorrectly.
RWB – Alvas Powell – STRONG 5
There wasn’t much to Powell’s game Friday night. Had Santiago Arias been available, you might have seen a different approach and more visibility on the right, but for the most part, Powell was invisible and did not connect much on offense when he did touch the ball up the pitch. At this point, until Arias returns to the starting lineup, this area of the lineup continues to mystify me, especially when Noonan has more confidence in inserting Bret Halsey over Ray Gaddis.
RCB – Yerson Mosquera – LIGHT 7
Yerson’s ability to play all three defensive line spots in the 3-5-2 formation doesn’t go unnoticed and I wouldn’t be surprised if he got more play as the right center back in the future. Mosquera led the team in clearances (five) and performed very well in winning duels (eight out of 11). His speed was tested at times by the Nashville counter-attack, but without much penetration in his side of the line.
It’s going to be hard to determine if Ian Murphy or Nick Hagglund occupy the last of the three center-back spots, but barring any yellow-card accumulation, “Our-Son Yerson” should be a 90-per-match play the rest of the way.
CB – Matt Miazga – LIGHT 6
Matt was unflappable as the keystone in the middle, completing the most passes in the match (83). Miazga didn’t have to do as much work to clear out possession or block shots, but it was also harder for him to thread passes up the middle of the pitch with Nashville clogging the lane more.
Two instances in the match did tick his score down into territory he probably didn’t deserve. The missed penalty kick in the extra frame was the more obvious, as his right-footed attempt was easily smothered. However, his work on the sideline against Hany Muhktar in the 93rd minute resulted in a throw-in, giving Nashville the possession and opportunity to bring in Elliot Panicco, Nashville’s stronger goalkeeper for penalty-kick scenarios. Unfair to target Matt for this decision, but the window opened.
Call it a solid 90 minutes for the veteran and a difficult extra-time period. He’ll be sorely missed against Columbus on August 20 when he sits out for yellow-card accumulation.
LCB – Ian Murphy – STRONG 5
Murphy’s come a long way since those two red cards a month ago, but he’s still considered the odd man out in this three-man set. It appeared that he would be subjected to an early yellow card in this match, but he managed to recover for a decent second half before being subbed out for a better penalty-kick option.
True enough, his passing accuracy was above average (93 percent) and he provided the most passes into the final third of the pitch (11), but his duel percentages are still subpar (three out of eight, including a 25 percent success rate in aerial duels). He also committed the most fouls in the match, and all three of them seemed to put Nashville in dangerous set-piece positions.
LWB – Álvaro Barreal – DECENT to STRONG 6
Barreal had two different halves that demonstrated how he was better as an attacking presence than a defending one. Picault and Shaq Moore had more freedom to roam Barreal’s side of the pitch. Nashville’s set-piece goal came when he and Obinna Nwobodo charged toward the corner kick and left McCarty open at Kann’s left. To be fair, not much of the play was coming through Barreal in the first half, making him an unused piece on the pitch.
However, once he was able to advance in the second half, Barreal’s confidence at least presented better opportunities. His cross to Vazquez in the 54th minute would have been an assured goal, but Vazquez was unable to convert with his weak foot. Barreal himself had an opportunity in the 80th minute, only for his own weak-footed shot to be gathered easily.
Barreal did convert his penalty kick to give FCC a sliver of hope before McCarty’s final kick proved to be the dagger.
DCM – Junior Moreno – LIGHT 6
Is it time to start considering Marco Angulo more for the other central midfielder? Moreno didn’t have many touches (41) for how far he played up the middle of the attack and he provided three passes into the final third.
Moreno was pulled in the 71st minute for a better offensive attack in Kubo. Coach had pointed out that Moreno would have served a better role to pull back into more of a defensive role against Nashville’s attack and let Barreal have more cracks in the offensive half. By the time the first Nashville goal was scored, it was hard to pivot to that strategy.
DCM – Obinna Nwobodo – STRONG 6
Obi continues to perform well in the cases he is asked to perform well in. He led the team in tackles won (two) and recoveries (nine), but again was part of that miscommunication with Barreal that left Nashville open for their only score of the match. He was forced to challenge the midfield multiple times, winning five tackles, but was also characteristically low in success rate (50 percent).
Sometimes Obi’s work rate is so under the radar that it is difficult to pick up nights when he manages an average performance. This felt like one of those nights.
CAM – Lucho Acosta – DECENT 6
Some nights you both have it and you don’t. There were times when Lucho’s passes were off their mark, and others when his passes would have been spectacular had the final shot made its destination. However, in general, Nashville’s backfield and defensive position kept Acosta jailed up for much of the game. When Lucho did get an opportunity in the 73rd minute off a give-and-go with Boupendza, he was unable to get a strong shot off in the box.
The real frustration of the performance was Lucho’s set-piece work. Many of the free kicks were taken closer to midfield, and the decisions to set up a longer free kick were a little questionable. Even the corner kicks taken by Acosta did not have the accuracy they’ve had in past matches.
Lucho did convert his attempt to start the penalty kicks, but Acosta’s judgments during the 90 minutes just did not work against a Nashville team that had the right defensive plan in place.
ST – Aaron Boupendza – STRONG 5
Aaron Boupendza will have better games in the future, but Friday was not one of them. The Gabonese forward did not record a shot on goal, missing to the left in the 49th minute and skying a wide-open strike in front of the net in the 79th minute. Both were with his weaker right foot, which seemed to be the theme for the night for all of the offensive pieces. Players with a dominant left foot hit shots with their right, and vice versa,
Perhaps it was due to the five-man Nashville backline clogging up lanes, but Boupendza had no field to maneuver. He was only involved in 13 passes, got dispossessed twice in his two dribble attempts, and won only 33 percent of his duels. He was eventually lifted in the 80th minute for Marco Angulo, so the positive is that he’s building up to 90-minute fitness, but if Dom Badji or Sergio Santos were healthy, he may have been lifted earlier.
Let’s hope that the extra time before the Columbus match allows Boupendza more connection in practice with the team.
ST – Brandon Vazquez – DECENT 7 (Man of the Match)
With all the shots taken in Nashville’s box that never made their mark, it was a bit of a conundrum when it comes to assigning a Man of the Match. By default, Vazquez seems like the best choice, all things taken into consideration.
Despite having as many touches as Boupendza, Vazquez capitalized on a bit more of his opportunities. His shot accuracy was higher and was accurate with all three of his long balls. Vazquez also managed a few more wins when it came to duels (57 percent).
Vazquez also did his work in the box to draw the penalty kick in the 85th minute and was rewarded by getting the chance to take the penalty kick and convert. If anything, that gives Acosta a little more of an intangible lift in his own score to entrust Vazquez with the kick. Brandon also converted his own in the extra frame. Considering he missed his opportunity in the Gold Cup against Panama for the U.S. national team, seeing him get confident in his penalty-kick work is very reassuring.
Yuya Kubo (71st minute) – LIGHT 6
Kubo entered the match for Moreno to play the midfield position he had grown acclimated to last season, but once Boupendza was lifted for Angulo, Kubo played more of a second striker position. His only opportunity at the net was a high shot in the 89th minute with a very low chance of testing Joe Willis. He did convert his penalty in the extra frame that kept FCC in the match after Miazga’s miss.
Bret Halsey (71st minute) – LIGHT 7
The call to select Halsey over Ray Gaddis for Powell was a bit of a surprise. Halsey typically had come on as a sub for Barreal on the left side. However, the time he did spend on the right was shockingly productive. His press on the right may have caught Nashville off-guard, and his accurate cross in the 79th minute to Boupendza could have contributed to the equalizer, had it been on target.
Marco Angulo (80th minute) – DECENT 6
If anything, Angulo might have been more efficient had he been brought in a few minutes earlier. He managed to create a solid chance in the 81st minute for Barreal and enjoyed decent possession in the 10+ minutes he played. Angulo’s play over the past few months have been refreshing and reinforcing, so more minutes down the stretch should result in some better opportunities to judge his maturity over the season.
Nick Hagglund (90th minute) – N/A
Availability Notes: Dom Badji (quad), Dado Valenzuela (quad), Santiago Arias (visa issues), Sergio Santos (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).