Three Question Preview: Matchday Two
It's matchday 2, FC Cincinnati is undefeated going into their second MLS match of the season for the first time in club history. Do you feel like Vasco da Gama? Because we're in uncharted waters.
Last week The FC got off to a white hot start scoring two goals in the blink of an eye. They followed up the most fun 20 minutes FCC fans have had in MLS with 70 minutes of all-out defense, which whittled away their lead to a draw. But hey, that match last week was a guaranteed loss last season, so it's progress!
Here are the three questions about this team I am looking to have answered by the match today against NYCFC:
1) Who is, really, going to fill the defensive midfielder sized hole in the lineup?
Last week Yuya Kubo was tasked with being a box-to-box destroyer. Which is a funny thing because the guy is a career striker/winger. Kubo is the latest victim of Njikamp bringing in a player who has always played one position, only to have that player play a completely different position in Cincinnati. Hell Joe Gyau and Yuya Kubo are very similar in terms of what positions they've played their whole careers before 2021 and are now both nowhere near the left wing. I've veered off course for the question here but it's something that has come up again and again, and I'd trust it a lot more if any of these moves panned out.
If it's not going to be Kubo, and it shouldn't be, might we see Allan Cruz or Caleb Stanko get a run-out? The 2019 Allan Cruz still lives in my heart, I'm not ready to give up on him yet. Let me see him do terrible out there first before I am going to trust the team that Yuyak Kubo is a better midfielder than a man who's nickname in Costa Rica is literally "Tico Kante"
2) Can Acosta and Brenner keep it up?
There's no denying that Acosta and Brenner looked like the real deal last week. After an offseason of Cincinnati being mocked for overspending on these two, they made the case they were worth more. But a small sample size is a small sample size. And once the team was stuck on defense, they were never able to not be on defense.
I want to see Acosta and Brenner develop a connection. Acosta hitting Brenner on a few runs this match will sooth my panicky Cincinnati sports-fan brain that this is going to work out for the season. Not that two matches is a large sample size, but it is literally twice as big as one match!
3) Is the defense "gelling"?
Gel-ing? Geling? Gelling? Jellying! Wait. Anyway, the backline looked bad last week. I mean, they did only let in one goal off of a defensive error. Leal's goal is a goal in any league in the world and while the clearance could have been better, you can't stop a looping shot like that in the top corner. You're really ready to condemn Hagglund and Pettersson because of that shot? I'm not. Again, not that the defense did great, but without that wonder striker it's a 2-1 win and the defense held on to the lead on the road. We count Tyton as a defender right? No? Well then this defense really does need work.
Gyau, as discussed above, is not a defender. Matarita plays as if he doesn't want to be a defender. That leaves two centerbacks on a team with... a winger playing defensive midfielder. See how these issues start to stack on top of each other? I want to see the defense working as a unit in this match. The more offside calls the more comfortable I'll feel saying this unit is gelling. There's no way to write that word and it looks right.