FC Cincinnati advanced in the MLS Cup Playoffs on Saturday with a penalty shootout win over the Red Bulls of New York. In a contentious match that saw eight yellow cards, including two to Red Bull’s head coach Troy Lesesne and a second to Matt Miazga during the shootout, FCC went behind in the first half when Tom Barlow poked home a fortuitous bounce. The visitors drew even through Aaron Boupendza before looking to have won the game in regulation after a Lucho Acosta corner kick snuck over the line. However, the goal was called back for an alleged foul on goalkeeper Carlos Coronel. The visitors had the last laugh, though, as they were able to advance in penalties and celebrate in front of the Red Bull’s supporters.
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 – 1.4, New York Red Bulls – 1, per mlssoccer.com
Now, onto the ratings:
Manager – Pat Noonan – 6
I’ve given Pat Noonan an average rating here because I simply don’t know what else to do. He didn’t adjust his tactics between games one and two, but that shouldn’t have mattered had his team not consistently given the ball away in transition throughout the first half. I can’t fault him for his players getting silly cards nor for his penalty takers not being able to hold their nerve.
Both of his big substitutions were forced, as Dom Badji and Obi Nwobodo both came off injured. He didn’t make another change until the end of the match when he brought on Sergio Santos to take a penalty.
GK – Roman Celentano – 6
Roman Celentano’s low score is as much about circumstance as it is about performance. Simply put, he didn’t have to make any important saves and the goal he allowed wasn’t his best effort. When the ball fell to Tom Barlow in the penalty box, the young goalkeeper came out somewhat half-heartedly, looking like he was hoping that the shot hit him more than he was looking to make a save. The goal wasn’t his fault at all, but I still thought he might have done a bit better. Then, though he made an important save in the penalty shootout, he looked unsure for most of the shots, not even attempting to save several of them.
Roman also looked a bit shakier in possession than he did in game one. He only completed three of 11 long passes and put his defenders under some unnecessary pressure with some of the passes he did complete. A case in point was when he played the ball behind Yerson Mosquera in the 15th minute, forcing the Columbian to make a good move to dribble out of pressure.
RWB – Santiago Arias – 5
Santi Arias has the misfortune of earning the lowest passing percentage of all starters at 61 percent. He also only managed to receive three progressive passes even though his team attacked up his side nearly half the time. He didn’t find a target with either of his two crosses, didn’t manage to have a key pass and missed his penalty in the shootout.
Arias was also not a defensive standout. He was dribbled twice and managed only one tackle and two blocks. He fell asleep on a free kick in the 78th minute, losing Luquinhas as he made a run across the top of the box and was played in by Frankie Amaya for a dangerous chance that he dragged just wide. However, he did manage to win six of eight ground duels, which is not nothing.
RCB – Yerson Mosquera – 5.5
Yerson Mosquera continued his worrying trend of being sub-standard defensively. He lost Barlow in the chaos of deflections and last-ditch defending at the end of the first half, allowing the forward to get goal side of him to be in the right spot at the right time to prod home the Red Bull’s lone goal of the match. He was also dribbled twice and, astonishingly, won only one of five aerial duels. Finally, he was issued a yellow card, though I don’t entirely fault him for it, as Luquinhas made his patented run-in-front-of-a-guy-then-fall-over move to buy the foul.
Mosquera had some really nice moments in possession, but also some head-scratching ones. He passed at nearly 81 percent and had two passes into the final third. He also had some really poor turnovers, including in the sixth minute of first-half stoppage time, playing the ball directly to Amaya, leading to a shot on goal and a penalty shout for potential handling. He capped his performance off by failing to convert his penalty.
CB – Matt Miazga – 7.5
Matt Miazga had an incredibly solid performance at Red Bull Arena. His 85 percent passing was second to only Dom Badji, who only attempted seven passes due to injury. He was a stalwart defensively, winning nine of his 11 duels (2/2 ground, 7/9 aerial) while logging two blocked shots and an interception. His numbers weren’t gaudy, but his performance was excellent.
However, Miazga’s performance in this match was marred by his antics after. First, after the final whistle in regulation, he picked up a yellow card for arguing with the referee. This was unacceptable for two big reasons: Acosta was on hand as the captain to make that argument and Miazga was already on a yellow from the first match, meaning a second would put him at risk for suspension had Red Bulls forced a game three. Then, to make matters worse, he picked up another yellow during the shootout for taunting the Red Bulls’ supporters, thus guaranteeing that he would miss FCC’s next match. Finally, he was accused of entering the officials’ locker room after the match and might now see even further suspension.
LCB – Ian Murphy – 6.5
Ian Murphy was a different player in and out of possession in this match. Out of possession, he was decisive and effective. He led the team in tackles with five, interceptions with two and also added a blocked shot. He also managed to win seven of his eight ground duels. Things weren’t perfect here, however, as he only won two of five aerial duels and also was dribbled once when he had his ankles broken by a simple cut by Kyle Duncan in the 53rd minute.
In possession, however, Murphy looked nervous and out of his depth. His 67 percent passing included missing eight of his 31 short passes – an inexcusable stat for a central defender. He gave the ball away really cheaply in his own box, causing the chaos that led to Barlow’s lucky goal. He had a bad turnover to start the second half, playing the ball to a Red Bulls player under no pressure and leading to a corner for the home side. Finally, he was also credited with two mistouches.
LWB – Álvaro Barreal – 7
Álvaro Barreal was given special attention by the Red Bull defense in this match and it showed. He only completed 66 percent of his passes and seemed to be forcing things throughout the match. He had a terrible turnover in the 36th minute, trying to hit a long diagonal, leading to Barlow running in on goal and Mosquera having to make a risky challenge in the box to deny a goal-scoring opportunity. He also was woefully bad on the dribble, completing just one of seven attempts. Despite this, he was still one of the more effective attacking options for the Orange and Blue. He found Boupendza open in the box with a cross in the 68th minute, where the Gabonese striker really should have done better. And maybe he could have done better with his shot in the 90th minute that would have been the game-winner, but he still managed to get enough pace on his toe-poke to force Coronel into a decent near-post save. In all, he logged three shot-creating actions.
Barreal was defensively solid in this match, though he didn’t have a ton to do with the opponent targeting the FCC right for most of the match. He wasn’t dribbled and earned a tackle, a block and an interception. However, the young Argentine only won two of his nine ground duels on the night.
DCM – Junior Moreno – 7.5
Junior Moreno turned the page on his game one performance and showed up ready to go in this match. His 81 percent passing was far below his norm, but still amongst the best on the team. He also chipped in with five progressive passes and two shot-creating actions. Defensively, he was well-positioned throughout the match. He didn’t earn many stats, but he impressively led the team in recoveries with 14. Perhaps the best thing I can say about Moreno in this match is that I don’t have much to write here.
DCM – Obi Nwobodo – 5.5
Part of Obinna Nwobodo’s low score here is undoubtedly due to him being forced off through injury after 68 minutes, meaning his stats were lower than they would have been. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story either, as when he was on the pitch, he was largely ineffective. Defensively, he managed only one tackle and two blocks and only won two of six duels on the night. I also thought he dropped way too deep and was sitting in Miazga’s lap in the build-up to the Red Bulls goal.
Offensively, he was a bit better, passing at 76 percent. But he was still off the pace, logging only one progressive pass and no progressive carries. He did manage a key pass, however, when he played a brilliant long diagonal in the 60th minute that sent Aaron Boupendza through on goal, though the striker’s shot was blocked.
CAM – Luciano Acosta – 7.5 (Man of the Match)
I thought Luciano Acosta was objectively terrible through most of the first half on Saturday. He constantly gave the ball away in transition and missed several passes he could typically make in his sleep. One example was in the 15th minute when he badly overhit a ball to Arias after FCC broke the press, killing his team’s chance at possession. He ended the match passing at a 63 percent success rate while being tagged with two mistouches and a dispossession.
So how the heck can Lucho be the man-of-the-match? The diminutive playmaker shows up when the lights get bright and was a key player down the stretch in this match. He had a fantastic through ball at the 25-minute mark to send Badji in on goal, though it was slightly overhit and narrowed the angle for the striker’s shot. Then, most importantly, in the run-up to Boupendza’s goal, he turned the defense inside out with his dribbling before making a perfectly-timed pass to earn the assist. He also did well in the first minute of second-half stoppage to cut inside on the dribble and find Vazquez with a neat little slipped pass for a potential game-winner, though Vazquez couldn’t put his shot on frame. In all, he led the team in shot-creating actions (six), progressive passes (six) and progressive carries (four). Finally, though it didn’t officially count, his near Olimpico counts in many of our hearts.
ST – Dominique Badji – 7
Dom Badji managed only 20 touches in his 33 minutes on the pitch before being forced off through injury. He worked hard in that time, logging two shots, including one that stung the palms of Coronel from a tight angle. Most impressively, he still managed to come in second on the team with three progressive carries despite his abbreviated minutes.
ST – Brandon Vazquez – 7.5
I wanted to give Brandon Vazquez my man-of-the-match award so badly. Throughout most of the game, his hold-up play was incredible. In the 25th minute, he received a ball under pressure near the center circle and cut a clever pass through to Acosta, who was then able to release a ball through to Badji for the visitor’s first shot on goal. At the 36-minute mark, he once again received the ball in traffic, used great footwork to avoid a defender’s challenge and then found Barreal with a through ball that led to a dangerous crossing opportunity. In all, he tied for the team lead with six progressive receptions while adding four shot-creating actions.
However, things got ugly for the big American down the stretch. Most of his five mistouches and two dispossessions occurred after the 70-minute mark. Finally, he also had two guilt-edged chances that he failed to convert. According to xG, in the best chance of the game by far, Vazquez had a free header off a corner kick in the 38th minute. Though he was able to direct it on goal, he didn’t make clean contact and gave Coronel the chance to paw it over the crossbar. He also badly mishit his shot in second-half stoppage time that could have won the game for his side.
Aaron Boupendza (34th minute) – 6.5
Aaron Boupendza continues to divide opinion. He squandered a decent scoring opportunity in the 60th minute of the match when he dwelt a bit too long on the ball and had his shot blocked. Later, he jumped too early for Barreal’s cross in the 68th minute, making his free header much more difficult than it needed to be. He only completed 55 percent of his passes while having two mistouches.
However, Boup also had some phenomenal plays. He began the play in the run-up to his goal with a neat flick to Acosta running behind him, then finished it with an excellent shot to the far post for the game-tying goal. A bit later, in the 90th minute, he had another nice interchange with Acosta that allowed Barreal to get a dangerous shot off in transition. One can only hope his positive-to-negative play ratio will eventually skew a bit more to the good side.
Yuya Kubo (69th minute) – 7
Yuya Kubo looked bright in his brief appearance in this match. His passing percentage was low, but that’s largely because he attempted only 15 passes, with just about half of them being medium to long-range. He had a dangerous line-splitting pass in the 79th minute that nearly sent Vazquez through on goal but for Coronel coming alertly off his line. He ended the match with three progressive passes and a progressive carry – impressive stats for such limited playing time.
Sergio Santos (90th minute + 7) – N/A
Out due to injury: Alvas Powell, Nick Hagglund
- 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).