A weekly entry where we ask those in the know what to look out for in our next opponent. In the season opener for 2020, we check in with Boston Brazzell (@BostonKeith) of Cincinnati Soccer Talk on FC Cincinnati, a club still searching for stability heading into its second season in the top flight.
OAM: What is the outlook for the team’s coaching setup in the wake of Ron Jans’ dismissal and do you expect the flux to significantly hurt your chances going into this weekend’s opener against Red Bulls?
Losing a head coach two weeks before the season has an impact. To say FC Cincinnati will emerge unscathed would be foolish hope and in my opinion a miracle. FCC had a great offseason and new general manager Gerard Nijkamp did far more than expected with the cards he was dealt. Those changes will make an impact on the pitch as Cincinnati is built more like a proper MLS team compared to last year.
Many of these new pieces (Dutchmen Jurgen Locadia and Siem De Jong, Japan international Yuya Kubo, Moroccan veteran Adrien Regattin) are traveling back to the States currently. That travel and time away will also hurt the away side and so I think this week will be a tough one for the Orange and Blue. If FCC wins the match it will likely be to some independent moments created by players instead of a well-coached system. I expect Cincinnati to struggle against the New York press.
OAM: FCC has had a lot of roster upheaval in the last year since entering the league; who are some of the players you’re expecting to be most crucial to the team’s success this new season?
The biggest change over the course of 2020 will be Cincinnati’s attack. The days of relying on Fanendo Adi and Emmanuel Ledesma are over. Two (possibly three) new attacking DP’s and TAM players have been added up top. It could take a few weeks but MLS will see FCC putting in many more goals than last year. Locadia and Kubo are strikers/winger DP’s and Cincy will line up in the 4-3-3. Expect them to float around and swap along with de-Jong.
Outside of the attack, Haris Medunjanin was brought in from Philly to attempt to stop the turnover problem. Cincinnati is holding many 2019 contracts in the midfield and on defense. Medunjanin is key to FCC improving their league-worst defense.
OAM: If Cincinnati manages to beat RBNY in Harrison on Sunday, how would they do it? Bunkering/countering, pure defense, or taking control and/or possession?
I expect the Red Bulls to play like they always do. Press and push and try to capitalize the same way they have always beaten Cincinnati. It is a formula that yet to fail when playing FCC. Cincinnati wins the match if they can work through that press and make clean distributions. New York has had some turnover as well and will be relying on youth more so than last time these clubs met. Cincinnati will likely get scored on but moving the ball up the pitch cleanly and burning New York with a couple of deep accurate Medunjanin passes or letting Locadia loose would be how the away side gets it done.