What We Learned in Match Week One
It was the start to the 2020 season, hope was in the air, the roster was rebuilt, and FC Cincinnati lost 3-2. We're running down the things we learned in match day one.
The goalkeeper battle was won by Spencer Richey. Richey winning the job in the preseason does not speak well to the 2019 roster build, again. Tyton making the salary that he is and taking up an international spot is extremely hard to justify when a serviceable backup (Evan Newton?) would suffice. While Richey's shot stopping wasn't at fault for any of the three goals, his distribution certainly created chances for New York and is responsible for one of the goal he let in.
Flo Sports still really sucks. Consider this a makeup lesson the teacher has to throw in the first few weeks of school because you forgot what you learned from the previous grade over the summer. Flo Sports having the local streaming rights means the full game recap will cost you $30 a month to access. Disney+, Netflix, ESPN+, and Hulu cost less, combined.
Jurgen Locadia is too good for this league. Don't talk to me about sample sizes, Sunday confirmed every optimistic thought I had about Loca in the preseason. His vision, eye for goal, ability to make something out of nothing, passing, and shooting is on another level. Very excited to see how he performs with de Jong feeding him final balls. Speaking of....
I was right about the midfield. Proof! FC Cincinnati has a central midfield that cannot defend, by design. The first half played out as if FCC didn't even have a midfield. If Alan Cruz is put into a box and asked to suppress half of his talent, he could be a fantastic defensive midfielder. But he's so good going forward it feels unnecessarily limiting locking him down like that. Personally, I'd like to see how the midfield looks with Stanko in instead of Medunjanin with de Jong in instead of Amaya. Not that I'm underestimating Haris Medunjanin.
New York Red Bulls are really hard to see in the shadows. If not for the red shoes (if you're from American and say boots you're the worst) those players would have been completely invisible to the TV cameras. I assume our players struggled to see them too which explains the score line. Maybe the lack of ticket sales means they can't turn on stadium lights to alleviate the shadows? Would that even work? Either way, it was a miserable viewing experience.
FC Cincinnati still needs a manager, but Yoann might have shown signs of life. In the first half the seems to have been to pass the ball as fast as possible to the closest player. And it failed spectacularly. After having the midfield carved up for fourty five minutes however, and Red Bulls backing off the press, FC Cincinnati looked much improved. Loca was a difference maker but the midfield showed an ability to defend and create. Maybe it was preseason rust being knocked off, maybe it was Yoann giving a new tactical plan. Either way, it's no reason to wait on a manager.
Regattin is the new Manu, but he's better than both of them. Running all over the place but able to play combinations to move the ball up the field is exactly what FCC was missing last year. While it probably wasn't his job to be running all over the field, when he did it felt like opportunities were being created. And he seems to have already buolt a good report with Locadia.
MLS games feel weird with no pregame shows. It doesn't feel like an event. Family Feud as your lead in makes the product feel particularly minor league. This isn't just an FCC problem, this has been an issue in MLS for years now. It does seem like ESPN is committing to fixing the issue, but it's a little weak. Would people be interested in a Twitter or YouTube pregame show?
The weakest spot on the roster might be full back. This is not exactly a knock on either Garza or Deplange, but the position is the weak spot in this 4-3-3. All of the goals and goal scoring opportunities for New York came from the spot in the backline that on paper is covered by Greg Garza. However, when he goes forward, someone needs to be covering his place. Is that a center back's role? One of the midfielders? Kubo's? Don't just judge the person you see closest to the ball when a goal is scored, the overall gameplan is failing on the outside right now.