Player Ratings

Player Ratings: FC Cincinnati 0, Columbus Crew 3

FC Cincinnati drove the long and not quite winding road north to the lesser city in Ohio, Columbus, to take on the Crew in the second edition of the Hell is Real Derby. Unfortunately, missing Matt Miazga (out on yellow card accumulation) and Yerson Mosquera (out with injury) proved too much for the Orange and Blue to overcome. They went behind in just the 15th minute to an Aidan Morris wonder strike. Then, minutes later, the Crew doubled their lead through a dubious penalty kick. Finally, Jacen Russell-Rowe poured salt in our collective wounds with the last kick of the game, leaving the final score at 3-0. In all, this poor performance from the Orange and Blue had me copy-and-pasting “turned the ball over in transition” to make writing these player ratings a bit easier.

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 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 – 0.3, Columbus Crew – 2.4, per

Formation: 3-5-2

Now onto the ratings:

Manager – Pat Noonan – 5

Pat Noonan admitted after the match that he got the initial tactics wrong in this one. Sending his team out intent on pressing the Crew was the wrong decision. Fielding a converted central midfielder at center back along with two of the most press-resistant midfielders in MLS in Morris and Nagbe, the Crew are a very difficult team to turn over. Add in the fact that FCC was without two of its starting three central defenders, and Noonan’s press looked more like an open invitation for Columbus to carve their midfield into pieces.

To his credit, Noonan made the adjustment of pushing a wingback higher into the press and playing Obinna Nwobodo and Junior Moreno a bit deeper in the second half, but by that time his team was already down 2-0. From there, I agree with the decision to start to rotate the squad out with an eye toward the US Open Cup Semifinal match.

GK – Roman Celentano – 7

The stats don’t look great for young Roman, giving up three goals on a PSxG of just 2.5. I think much of that is down to the fact that he let Russell-Rowe beat him at his near post in the dying moments of the match. However, I don’t think there’s much he could have done about Morris’ opener, and had he saved Cucho Hernández’s penalty, it would have been purely a bonus.

Celentano had a host of good moments. His smart save in the 10th minute to deny Morris from range was one you’d expect him to make, but it was solid nonetheless. He also got down well to keep Diego Rossi from a dream debut, diving and pushing away his shot in the 59th minute. Finally, Roman had a great reaction save in the 72nd minute to deny Cucho his brace. Add those saves in with his capable performance in possession, and I think the young goalkeeper can be satisfied with his performance if not with the result.

RWB/RCB –  Alvas Powell – 5

Powell’s low score here is entirely down to his head-clutching performance on the ball in the first half. His first touch of the match was a turnover that he followed up by committing a foul, and his play went downhill from there. The Jamaican international led all players with three mistouches and two dispossessions … and I think those numbers are generous. He simply couldn’t find his footing with the ball at his feet in this match.

Defensively, Powell seemed to do okay, ending the match with two tackles and two interceptions. He also wasn’t dribbled and won 58 percent of his ground duels. However, in a match where his team was outpossessed 60 percent to 40 percent, his giveaways were a large part of FCC’s defensive woes.

RCB – Nick Hagglund – 6

Nick Hagglund was the sole center-back in this match from what has been FCC’s typical starting three. His veteran presence was noticeable as he constantly intervened in dangerous moments, starting in just the third minute when he read a dangerous Julian Gressel cross and cut it out just before Christian Ramirez could get on the end of it. He had another great challenge to deny Ramirez an opportunity in the 14th minute, this time from a Cucho cross. Add in his 91 percent passing and I have to think that his being replaced at halftime had more to do with saving his legs for Wednesday’s match than his performance.

Hagglund’s performance, however, was far from perfect. Like much of the team, it seemed like he couldn’t lay a finger on the Crew in possession. He did well to recover defensively in the 42nd minute when Cucho was running free in transition, but even when he tried to foul the diminutive Columbian, he bounced off and created a guilt-edged chance for Ramirez. He also failed to get into a ground duel, and ended his half of play with just one interception. 

CB – Ian Murphy – 7

Ian Murphy has come under fire from fans for many of his performances, including this one. However, I thought the young defender showed himself off well despite his team giving up three goals. His 90 percent passing out of the back was excellent and included him completing all seven of his long balls. He ended the match with four passes into the final third, a respectable tally for a central defender.

Defensively, Murphy was a bit hesitant to react at times, including failing to react when Cucho picked up the ball just outside the penalty area in the moments before Álvaro Barreal’s handball. Had he either stepped to Cucho or dropped with Ramirez, the crisis might have been averted, but as you’ll see below I don’t really place the blame on him. Furthermore, I thought he showed some real prowess in the second half when he constantly tracked Ramirez as he checked to receive the ball in Crew’s build. He held Ramirez to only three progressive receptions though he is averaging nearly five per 90 minutes on the season.

 LCB – Ray Gaddis – 5

Ray Gaddis was FCC’s highest-rated outfield player on FotMob. On the surface, his performance looked good. He did an impressive job reading the game at times, intercepting passes that looked destined to end up on the foot of Gressel behind the FCC back line. He led the team with five blocked passes. His four progressive passes also tied for the team lead.

However, I think the “Minister of Defense” came up short in key moments in this match. He shares much of the responsibility for giving up the penalty that allowed the Crew to double their lead. First, he got caught ball-watching when Cucho picked up the ball, allowing Ramirez to run in behind him. Then, his wild lunge at the ball not only prevented Barreal from clearing it but also hit the ball straight into the wingback’s hand. Ray was nearly at fault for another goal in the 42nd minute when he failed to follow a Ramirez dart across the back line in transition, leading to the frontman having an open look at goal that he pulled just wide of the far post.

LWB – Álvaro Barreal – 7

In a match where the Orange and Blue had very few bright spots, it was Barreal that looked the likeliest to provide one. His lovely diagonal in the 24th minute set up an Aaron Boupendza half-chance that looked goal-bound until center-back Sean Zawadski cleared the ball off the line. He had another great early ball in behind for Boupendza in the 30th minute that the striker cut back and squandered. Finally, he set up FCC’s best chance of the match in the second half with a good run and slotted pass through to Boupendza that led to a near-post strike that earned FCC a corner.

However, the young Argentinian also failed to deliver in some major ways. He had a really poor turnover in the 59th minute, passing directly to Nagbe who set up Rossi for a shot from 20 yards. He also only passed at a 67 percent rate, failed on both of his dribble attempts, and only won one of his four ground duels.

REFEREE – Ted Unkel – 4 (Man of the Match)

Since you’re probably a bit depressed reading these player ratings at this point, let me take a moment to engage in a little bitter satire. I don’t believe that Unkel cost FC Cincinnati the match, but he also was pretty poor on the night. He missed a handball against the Crew in transition in the 20th minute, then immediately gave a soft handball in the box, awarding the home side a penalty in the 21st. He also failed to call even a foul when Acosta was caught with a flailing arm in the 36th minute, then awarded Obi a foul and a yellow card for a similar play later in the first half. Pat Noonan was less than thrilled.

Our favorite drunk Unkel (I am in no way actually insinuating that Ted was inebriated for this match) also chose to ignore league initiatives set forth this year by the PRO (Professional Referee Organization – the governing body for soccer officials in the United States) to stamp out the delay of free kicks and the gesturing by players of asking for opponents to receive cards. He failed to intervene at all when Lucho was fouled in transition in the 45th minute, then prevented from taking the quick free kick two successive times by Zawadski and then Steven Moreira. Finally, just to finish out this fine PROfessional outing, when Rossi asked Unkel to give a yellow card to Arias in the 76th minute, instead of punishing the Crew player, he chose to follow orders. Ted might want to listen to Obi next time and take another look.

DCM – Junior Moreno – 6

Nobody doubts Junior Moreno’s ability to help FC Cincinnati keep the ball. His 92 percent passing was excellent on the night, and he didn’t log a mistouch or a dispossession. However, I will continue to bang the drum that simply keeping the ball is not good enough when FCC is facing better opponents. Moreno only logged one progressive pass and two passes into the final third.

Defensively, Junior’s positioning is nearly always sound. But, again, sometimes “good enough” is neither good nor enough. In 59 minutes in which the Crew had the majority of the ball, Moreno tallied only one tackle, one interception and one ball recovery.

DCM – Obinna Nwobodo – 6

In a match where the FCC midfield looked dormant, Obinna Nwobodo had the best numbers but still didn’t live up to the high standard that he has set for himself. He logged three tackles, one interception and five ball recoveries … all short of his season averages. His reluctance to close down Morris carrying the ball forward in the 21st minute was crucial leading up the the Crew penalty. He was also torched in transition in the 42nd minute by Cucho, leading to a Ramirez chance that was screwed just wide. He and Moreno struggled to keep Nagbe and Morris from breaking the FCC press all evening. All in all, he was dribbled past twice.

In possession, much like Moreno, he was sound but ineffective. His 83 percent passing rate was great, but he failed to log any progressive or final third passes.

CAM – Lucho Acosta – 5

On balance, it probably isn’t fair to grade Lucho below his midfield partners. However, he is the key to making the FCC offense run, and it resembled a 1971 Ford Pinto in that regard. He constantly squandered transition opportunities, including when he was caught on the ball in the 11th minute on a very promising run. In the 13th minute, he hit his defender with a cross-field pass that could have set up a Brandon Vazquez tap-in. In the 32nd minute, with three targets to aim at in the box and Nwobodo open for the cutback just outside of it, Acosta hit a looping ball over everyone to waste another opportunity. I could go on, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll do something I rarely do in this column and just show the numbers.

  • Passing – 61 percent
  • Key Passes – two (averages three)
  • Progressive Passes – four (averages 6.9)
  • Shot-Creating Actions – two (averages 6.4)

ST – Aaron Boupendza – 6.5

Aaron Boupendza was FC Cincinnati’s likeliest player to score. He led his team with three shots, three shot-creating actions and .2 xG. He did well to drift off the back shoulder of his defender twice in the first half, allowing Barreal to send him off and running. He also made a good run in behind in the 52nd minute forcing Patrick Schulte into a smart save at his near post.

However, “Boup” has also been maddening to watch since joining the Orange and Blue as he constantly makes poor decisions. In this one, he turned the ball over in transition in the 17th minute trying to cut the ball back to Obi when Powell was wide open streaking down the right. He stumbled over the ball in the 60th minute when it looked like he and Acosta would have a numbers-up opportunity going to goal. In this match, he also was unnecessarily fancy at times even though his team desperately needed a foothold in the match. In the 30th minute, with the goal in his sights from inside the six-yard box, he elected to backheel the ball toward Vazquez and turned it over. In the 44th minute, when Lucho gave him the ball in transition and made a run for the simple layoff Boupendza tried to flick the return pass between his legs, ending another promising transition opportunity. Overall, I hope that he settles down and settles in fast.

ST – Brandon Vazquez – 5.5

Outside of his decent shot in the fifth minute and a few moments of lovely holdup play, Vazquez was a passenger for this match. His 53 percent passing was pretty poor, and he failed to create any shots or log any key passes. It’s tough to fault him for a poor performance in a match where FCC had so little of the ball and generated so little offense, but he was more part of the problem than the solution.


Santiago Arias (45th minute) – 6

Santi Arias was bright in his performance, pushing forward in the press. He tied for the team lead in tackles with three despite only playing 45 minutes and added an interception. He didn’t make much of a difference in the attack however, where he failed to create any shots and didn’t connect on either of his two cross attempts.

Yuya Kubo (60th minute) – 5.5

I was disappointed that Kubo was unable to add any value to the FC Cincinnati attack. He only logged one progressive pass and failed to have a progressive carry, create a shot, or log a key pass. He also didn’t make a difference defensively. He ran around a lot, but couldn’t make a dent in the Crew possession.

Sergio Santos, Brett Halsey, and Marco Angulo (74th minute) – 6

It’s not normal for me to grade a group of substitutes together. However, by the time this crew entered the match, FCC was just looking to get out of Columbus and turn the page toward Inter Miami on Wednesday. I thought these three acquitted themselves well, but none of them changed the game in any tangible way.

Halsey created a shot, and Angulo chipped in with two progressive passes equalling the total of the other three defensive midfielders combined. Overall, I think this was a good runout for these three.

Availability Notes: Dom Badji (quad), Matt Miazga (yellow card accumulation), Yerson Mosquera (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).
To Top