Another season, series of match previews. Part 1 of 34. Here, we, go.

FC Cincinnati starts their season on the road as they have done every single season since they were founded. Austin FC is their opponent today, in Austin, in the beautiful Q2 Stadium. Austin’s active support and environment was phenomenal last year, so expect it to be a lovely and entertaining crowd. This will also mark the very first meeting of the two teams.

On the field, Austin was really bad last year, just not quite as bad as Cincinnati. This offseason saw the departure of one of their DPs, Tomás Pochettino, who is now on loan at River Plate. There are very real concerns about Austin FC’s goalkeeper and centerbacks who have yet to prove they belong in MLS.

But here are the three questions I am looking to have answered in this match between FC Cincinnati and Austin FC. 

Will this team look different than before?

I was not a huge fan of Jaap Stam’s time in Cincinnati. His teams always looked lifeless in attack, they couldn’t retain possession, and the defense gave up an historic number of goals. Not only was The FC bad these last few years, they were unwatchable. 

Hopefully, today, we’ll see if that’s changed today. I want to know if we’ll have a midfield that can hold on to the ball. I want to see if the forwards make runs and move along the back line instead of standing there hoping for a pass. 

Who Will Start at Rightback? 

It’s probably Ray Gaddis, isn’t it? But last year Zico Bailey essentially won the starting job here in Cincinnati and Alvas Powell was a regular starter in Philadelphia. Gaddis, meanwhile, was watching games from his couch. Bringing a player out of retirement to play certainly is a bold move, and it’s one we’ll see either pay off today or blow up in everyone’s face. 

Is Kann that big of an upgrade? 

Make no mistake, FC Cincinnati goalkeepers in MLS, going all the way back to 2019, have been terrible. We’ve all seen the charts showing that FCC’s keepers gave up an additional 14 goals than would have been expected from an average keeper. Kann is a keeper the advance stats and metrics have said should be a star in this league. Today we’ll see how big of an upgrade he really is behind a backline that has historically, given up a number of goals. 

Projected Lineup

Let’s throw a curveball out there with this one.

Props to Grayson Chalmers for calling this one on the PostCast. Brenner has been out of the team for a long while, and I’m sure he’ll be subbed in, maybe at halftime. But in the meantime, preseason darling Nick Markanich has both earned a start and may very well be the only option available. Dom Badji is still dealing with an injury. Speaking of Vallecilla is still questionable so I’d expect him to sit. Otherwise, Cruz and Kubo is our midfield until new signings come in. Moreno moving quickly into the “6” position probably wasn’t the plan with so little preseason prep, but he’s the best option by far.

Prediction

2-2 draw