Three Question Preview: Matchday Three
Tonight feels like a big match for Jaap Stam and the rest of The FC. After a hot start in Nashville, the team hasn't looked great for last 160 minutes or so. The fans, and by fans I really just mean me, are restless. A sign of life tonight would go a long way towards calming the fans, and again I just mean me here, down.
So here is my three question preview for tonight's match against Orlando City SC.
Will this team turn in a performance to calm The Fans down?
What I am looking for tonight is a Cincinnati team to turn in a performance where they looked like they could still win by the 75th minute. A team that has been defending well and produce a good number of chances, scoring at least one. September 19th, 14 matches ago, was the last time FCC scored a goal, kept a clean sheet, and won a match. Before that, back to back games in the MLS is Back tournament in July. Before that? March 24th and March 17th 2019. Yes, it's only happened four times in FCC's MLS history: a win and a clean sheet. Turn in one of those rare performances and I'll hush-up. Losing by multiple goals without scoring one, and I expect the heat to be turned on the seats of Njikamp and Stam.
Who is going to be the mystery injury today?
Almost every FCC match there is a mysterious injury that isn't on anyone's radar until 5 minutes into the match when Tommy G finally tells us that, I don't know, Lucho Acosta broke his arm (or didn't) and is out for some time between 2 days and 2 months. It feels like FCC's entire playbook is to withhold information from everyone so that when you criticize them they can respond with "Well you don't know the full story so your opinion doesn't count". Like apparently Ben Lundt is a terrible goalkeeper and the preseason matches proved that, you know, the ones we all got to watch to learn that ourselves. Speaking of...
Who is going to be the goalkeeper tonight?
With the acquisition of Kenneth Vermeer, the 35 year old dutch goalkeeper formerly with LAFC, Cincinnati will soon have five, yes five goalkeepers on the roster. Which is weird.
Let's recap how we got here. Spencer Richey was a very capable backup they let walk this winter, so most people assumed Ben Lundt would be handed the backup role after an impressive year with Louisville City in USL. Beckham Sunderland was signed last year as a homegrown player and that was supposed to be the three keepers we'd roll with into 2021. Then they signed Cody Cropper, a keeper with a decent resume and had been a backup in New England for a bit now. Sure, most of us thought Cropper might be a third choice veteran backup anyway since Sunderland's signing was really for emergencies last year anyway, and Lundt was still an international we thought. But then Lundt got himself a green card. Ok, Lundt as the 2 and Cropper as the 3 and Sunderland can train with the youth teams, maybe a loan to the USL and follow the path Lundt took.
Expect, last week we found out Cropper had the #2 job on lock, was thrust into a game, and gave up 5 goals. Now not all of them where on him, but it's not a flattering scoreline for a backup keeper. And FCC goes out and signs a veteran keeper who was just waived by his team after a pretty bad year last year. If I'm Lundt, I'm wondering if I can just be cut so I can be free to sign with Louisville. Lundt is someone the organization had been very high on for years now, Jack Stern wanted to draft him specifically because he saw him as the future goalkeeper of this team and he, at least on the fields he's been allowed to play on, has proven that to be correct.
All of that was to say this: whoever is the keeper tonight will be interesting and point to where Stam, Njikamp, and Stern see the goalkeepers as a group.