Player Ratings

Player Ratings: FC Cincinnati 0, Toronto FC 0

FC Cincinnati opened its 2024 MLS campaign with a turgid 0-0 draw at home with Toronto FC. Though the home side fielded a lineup that included eight new starters, five of whom were not on the roster in 2023, fans left the stadium surprised at the inability to score against last year’s Wooden Spoon winners. Instead, FCC outshot the visitors 17 to eight but never found a breakthrough.

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 – 0.9, Toronto FC – 0.4, per

Formation: 3-5-2

Now, onto the ratings:

Manager – Pat Noonan – 5

FC Cincinnati was always going to start slow, needing to integrate no fewer than five new starters. Furthermore, due to Matt Miazga’s suspension and Aaron Boupendza’s slight knock, Pat Noonan was forced to rotate his lineup even further. So why the low score? Quite frankly, I thought Noonan got outcoached by John Herdman. Herdman brought his squad to TQL Stadium with one thing in mind: don’t concede a goal. They defended in a compact central block to force FCC’s inexperienced wingbacks to become primary ball progressors. They took their time on every goal kick, throw-in and free kick, to the point that goalkeeper Sean Johnson was carded for time-wasting. Noonan was far too slow to adjust his tactics.

In the second half, when Pavel Bucha and Lucho Acosta began floating wider to help Yuya Kubo and Luca Orellano advance the ball, things got better for the Orange and Blue. However, by that time, substitutions were coming thick and fast, and players were tiring due to their lack of fitness in the early season. Had Noonan anticipated Herdman’s tactics or gotten word to his midfielders to adjust earlier in the match, I think FCC might have had a bit more joy in the first 45 minutes. Finally, I will never understand substituting two players onto the pitch in the second minute of stoppage time. Not only is it virtually impossible for these subs to impact the game on any level, but it wastes time and disrupts cohesion for the final minutes of a match that FCC really should have been trying to win.

GK – Roman Celentano – 6.5

Though Roman earned a clean sheet, Toronto didn’t test him all that often. He faced a post-shot xG of only 0.2 and only had to make two saves. Furthermore, Celentano failed to complete any of his four long passes. Quite simply, when Celentano plays the ball long, it is a clearance, not a pass.

Roman also had some nice moments in the match, including a really good reaction save to deny Lorenzo Insigne from burying a free kick at the near post in the opening minutes of the match. His other save was a Federico Bernardeschi shot that, due to Celentano’s precise positioning, was struck directly at him.

RWB –  Yuya Kubo – 7

The Yuya-Kubo-at-right-wingback experiment has had mixed reviews so far, but I mostly think he’s been fine. The Japanese international is such a capable player in all aspects that he doesn’t look out of place anywhere on the pitch. Certainly, he ball chased at times, and he got cooked by Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty in the 76th minute off the dribble, but he also led the team with seven tackles and contributed five ball recoveries. His main defensive liability comes in his inability to convert these tackles into possession. Kubo won just five of his 13 ground duels and committed three fouls.

However, playing a forward-turned-defensive midfielder at wingback is an exercise in cost-benefit analysis. Does the benefit that Kubo provides offensively outweigh his defensive liability? This is where I think the jury is still out. Kubo constantly releases up the field in too narrow of a position and hasn’t really provided the offensive threat that I’ve been hoping for as of yet. In this match, he wasn’t accurate with any of his three crosses and had only one key pass. I also want to see a huge improvement from him in ball progression, where he logged only one each of progressive carries and passes. His potential flashed at times, like in the 40th minute when he came onto his left and hit a wicked shot from 36 yards out that was too hot for Johnson to handle cleanly, or in the 58th minute when his slick backheel sent Acosta in on goal for one of FCC’s best chances of the match.

RCB – Kipp Keller – 7.5

Kipp Keller was included in the starting lineup due to the final game of Miazga’s suspension carrying over from last season. Though no one expects him to be a full-time starter, he showed that he is more than capable of being an auxiliary defensive option for this team. Most impressively, his defensive angles off the ball were spot on most of the match, allowing him to block three shots and two passes, including in the 50th minute when Bernardeschi got onto his left foot at the edge of the box and looked to have the far side netting picked out but for Keller’s intervention. Keller also won both of his tackles and wasn’t dribbled. He wasn’t defensively perfect, however, as he was a bit detached from Kubo at times, including in the fourth minute when the gap he left forced Obinna Nwobodo into fouling Richie Laryea in a dangerous position.

Keller looked nervous on the ball at times but still managed to complete 84.7 percent of his passes and create two shots. His one glaring weakness offensively in this match was long passes, where he completed just one of five. He was also credited with a mistouch.

CB – Miles Robinson – 8.5 (Man of the Match)

Miles Robinson’s introduction to this squad could pay dividends in several ways. In this match, it was his ability to seamlessly slot in at the center of the defense in place of Miazga. Defensively, Robinson was nearly flawless, completing three tackles (winning two), winning three of his four ground duels and dominating in the air by winning all seven of his aerial duels.

Miles was also really good on the ball, completing 91.1 percent of his passes, including eight of 11 long passes and four passes into the final third. In the 51st minute, his incredible long ball into the seam for Acosta created a real moment of danger and led to Sergio Santos having the best chance of the match.

LCB – Ian Murphy – 8

Ian Murphy is quickly becoming FCC’s most attacking center back. In this match, he completed nearly 92 percent of his passes, tied for second on the team with five progressive passes, and led the team with nine passes into the final third.

However, Murphy has yet to become a dominant defensive presence in the back line. Though he wasn’t dribbled and didn’t have any significant mistakes, he also didn’t make a tackle. That said, Toronto only attacked his side 20 percent of the time, so I can forgive his lack of defensive statistics.

LWB – Luca Orellano – 6.5

Luca Orellano was not able to announce his presence to the city of Cincinnati with style, even though his attempt at the “Barreal Special” (a volley directly from a Lucho Acosta free kick) in the 34th minute was well-struck and hit the target. He did, however, have an incredibly solid debut performance. In possession, Luca struggled at times to connect passes, completing only 65.8 percent of them. He was able to lead the team with five progressive passes, though, and also connected with three of his six crosses. He ended the day with a respectable two key passes and three shot-creating actions.

Defensively, Orellano wasn’t tested often, but when he was it looked to me like he was often out of position. Bernardeschi seemed to run in behind him at will in the first half, though TFC struggled to find him much of the time. Toronto’s highest xG chance of the match came in the second minute of first-half stoppage time when Luca got caught stepping forward, allowing the Italian to receive a pass up the line before cutting the ball back for his countryman. Luckily, Insigne’s shot struck TFC striker Prince Owusu who was lying on the ground by the far post instead of nestling inside Celentano’s net.

DCM – Pavel Bucha – 6

Pavel Bucha started this match very quietly but grew into it as the match went on. He showed a few flashes of what he can bring to the table offensively, including at the end of the first half when his gorgeous touch-pass up the line sprung Kubo for what should have been a dangerous attack but for a nice sprawling tackle by a TFC defender to deny the wingback the opportunity to dribble. Bucha’s five progressive passes were a good total for a deep-lying midfielder, but disappointingly he failed to log a pass into the final third or a key pass. He also had two mistouches and was dispossessed once.

Defensively, Bucha was well-positioned on several occasions to pick off passes and start counterattacks, earning three blocks and an interception. He was also able to add seven ball recoveries. However, things weren’t all good on this side of the ball for the Czech, as he won only one of his five ground duels.

DCM – Obinna Nwobodo – 8

Obi deservedly won FC Cincinnati’s internal man-of-the-match award. Typically, he led the team with eight ball recoveries and contributed four tackles and two interceptions. The Nigerian also won seven of his 12 ground duels. So, why didn’t Obi win my man-of-the-match?

Obi was fantastic defensively, but we’ve grown accustomed to that. I’m really hoping that he can take a step forward offensively this year. His “typical” performance was epitomized in the 33rd minute, when he did well to win the ball defensively and start the counterattack only to pass it behind  Acosta, killing the momentum of the move and allowing the TFC defense to recover. Then, immediately after the ball was turned over, he made a 60-yard sprint to chase down Bernardeschi and make an incredible tackle to deny a transition opportunity. I don’t expect him to create chances or score goals, but he absolutely has the ability to win the ball and effectively start counterattacks, and I didn’t see that in this match. Overall, he earned just one progressive pass and three progressive carries.

I may not have given Nwobodo the top award in this match, but hey, I still gave him an “8,” so don’t come at me too hard.

CAM – Luciano Acosta – 7.5

Lucho Acosta led the team in shot-creating actions with 10 (the next closest player only tallied four), progressive passes with six, and key passes with five. However, if I’m not bumping Obi’s grade for doing things that I’ve come to expect, then I’m not doing it for the Captain either. Certainly, these numbers are good enough to give Lucho a high rating, but I still didn’t think he was at his sharpest in this match. Plays like in the 36th minute, when he sprung forward with the ball after Obi made a tackle to start the team in transition, but then tried to cut the defender instead of laying the ball off to Sergio Santos, resulting in only a corner, should be plays that end in fantastic scoring opportunities if Acosta is at his best. He also failed to capitalize on a golden opportunity when his first touch off a sublime Kubo backheel narrowed his angle on goal and forced him to try to beat Johnson at the near post when he could have had the entire goal at his mercy.

I still think Lucho had a decent match, and his defensive work rate also shouldn’t go unnoticed. However, if the Captain is going to repeat his 2023 MVP-winning campaign, he is going to have to be sharper in the moments that matter.

ST – Sergio Santos – 5.5

Prior to the season, there were voices that were clamoring for FCC to buy out Santos and move on from a player that they saw as unable to contribute. I’m not sure that the Brazilian has silenced these voices, but he certainly has added a bit of white noise that makes it a little harder to hear them. His performance wasn’t fantastic, as he often struggled to hold the ball up for his team and his 61.5 percent passing was the lowest of any starter. However, his lone shot was a 0.2 xG chance that he turned into a .39 PSxG shot. He also had a nice moment counter-pressing in the 34th minute, where he won the ball in the corner before drawing a foul and a yellow card from Raoul Petretta.

Do I think Santos is going to earn a starting spot on this team? No way. Do I think he has shown enough to prove that he can be useful off the bench or starting in spots? Well, I’m inclined to say “maybe” after the first two matches, when the answer might have been a hard “no” at the end of the 2023 campaign.

ST – Corey Baird – 5.5

I’m not sure if it’s the lack of chemistry with Santos or a need to get familiar with Lucho’s tricks, but Corey Baird looked lost in space at times, unsure of where to run. Like Santos, he also struggled in holdup play in this match and only attempted 11 passes, completing just 63.6 percent. However, he was still able to use his quality and high work rate to make an impact. Baird’s best moment came in the 15th minute when he was first to react to the ball rattling around in the box after a corner and forced Johnson into a quick save with an overhead kick. He was also able to contribute four shot-creating actions.

Baird was always going to be a player who is more reliant on the talent around him to create his opportunities than his ability to create them for himself. In matches where FCC struggles to hold onto the ball and create meaningful shots, like in this one, he’s generally not going to have a huge impact.


Aaron Boupendza (58th minute) – 6

Aaron Boupendza entered for Sergio Santos in a like-for-like substitution to lead the line. His movement and quality were immediately impactful, and he was able to receive the ball in space on several occasions. His five progressive passes received were more than Baird and Santos combined. Whether it was the flow of the game or that he wasn’t fully fit, he wasn’t quite able to make an impact. Despite only having nine touches, he managed to complete five of six passes. His lone shot, however, was a header that he failed to put on target.

Gerardo Valenzuela (78th minute) – 5.5

“Dado” Valenzuela came into the match for Corey Baird to play as a nominal forward. He spent much of his time, however, dropping into midfield as a de facto #10, allowing Lucho Acosta to chase the game. He didn’t have a significant impact, but also didn’t look out of place. However, he wasn’t successful on either of his two dribble attempts, was dispossessed once, and was credited with a mistouch. When a player only gets 13 minutes of game time and 13 touches, that is just too many turnovers.

Alvas Powell (78th minute) – 6

Alvas Powell entered for newcomer Orellano, pushing Kubo to the left and playing right wingback. In his short time on the pitch, he was able to log three progressive actions (one pass, two carries) and an interception. He also completed a successful dribble. Despite this, he wasn’t able to create a shot, provide a key pass or connect with an accurate cross.

Bret Halsey (90th minute +2) – N/A

Malik Pinto (90th minute +3) – N/A

Availability Notes: Matt Miazga (suspension)


  • 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).
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