Updated: Apr 19
FC Cincinnati opened their 2021 season last night with a hard fought draw with Nashville Sc. A point on the road against a playoff team is indeed a great result. Especially for a team that has so many new players. That being said, the match while exciting to say the least, has as many fans concerned as elated. Last night the team showed what a future with new additions like Brenner, Acosta and Matarrita can be. They also showed visions of the past with a team constantly under attack, fighting tooth and nail to stay afloat.
The match was exciting from the beginning, with both teams playing fast and aggressive. Then in the 8th minute FCC broke the tie when Acosta “wall passed” with Matarrita, leaving Lucho 1 V 1 with the keeper. Lucho then chipped it over the keeper to himself and tapped it in. If you doubt that Acosta meant to do that, watch it again in slow motion. Amazing skill, and further evidence that he still can be that Lucho from 2018.
Luciano Acosta on the importance of scoring in his debut.
“The goal is important. Scoring in the first game of the season is really nice, it’s good. But to be honest, my takeaway is the sacrifice that the team put in and the point that we earned.”
On being given the Captain's arm band.
"Truth is that I felt very good. It’s a good pressure for me. It’s a good challenge for me, being captain of this great team. Just because you have an armband, it doesn’t mean a captain is needed. I think there are a lot of captains inside the pitch, in our team. Truth is, I felt very happy today and with a lot of confidence. I tried to show it on the pitch.”
(All Images: FC Cincinnati)
While FCC fans cheered from their homes or their Bars, the team kept up the pressure on Nashville. Then as Nashville played back to their keeper Brenner sprinted at him to put him under pressure. A long first touch caused Keeper Joe Willis to scramble to clear the ball. Brenner just barely beat Willis to the ball and the keeper collided with the Brazilian, bringing him down. The Ref initially said play on, but the call went to VAR and after a short view, the penalty was given. Brenner then expertly finished the ball passed the arm of Willis who had guessed correctly.
Just like that, FC Cincinnati was up 2-0. Fan’s were no doubt dreaming of what the future may hold with the attacking prowess shown. After just 12 mins in the opening game it seemed that the team had turned a new leaf and had stated that this is a new FC Cincinnati, no more wooden spoons for us. The team had a playoff team, and one that was amongst the best defensively, on their heels and seemed to have control of the match.... they didn’t. Nashville SC was then forced to change their tactics. They pushed forward and pressed to get back in the game. FCC had no answer.
For the rest of the game, FCC was on the back foot. Constantly. The club could only pass midfield on desperate booted clearances and only then to be attacked again. The game harkened back to the “MLS is back tournament last year, except that FCC had won most of the headers, and were clearing the ball competently then. Not last night. Przemyslaw Tyton was constantly under fire. Nashville sent 31 shots his way, 13 of those on target. Tyton stood on his head, however was unable to keep the tying goals out. One was in the first half when Nashville caught Cincy on the counter and out of position, and one was a brilliant Goalazo. In the 64th minute Randall Leal chipped an inch perfect shot just over the outstretched hand of Tyton that kissed the upright and went in the top corner. While Tyton had an incredible game in goal, to save that shot would have been miraculous.
FCC and Tyton then withstood a constant barrage of shots. As the ref mercilessly blew his whistle three times, the matched ended in a 2-2 draw. FCC and their fans have mixed emotions on the result. If you would ask them if they would take a draw prior to the match, they would mostly likely say YES emphatically. Though, having been up 2-0 early in game, you may also view it at a missed opportunity. Either way you look at it, FC were fortunate to come away with a point. If it weren’t for the herculean effort by Tyton, the club would lost.
Przemyslaw Tyton on the match.
“It was a tough game. I mean, we start well. Then after leading, 2-0, we give up the one goal and then they start to feel like they can come back to the game. As a defensive shape, I think we did a good job. It was a very physical team, Nashville (SC). We don't have many tall guys in the team, but we have a different quality. We did well. We did well. This point is very important for us in the first game of the season, and we have to respect this point. We have to take it and. I hope this point in the game will give us power to build something better as a team. So (the) next games are very important for us.”
On whether the team was disappointed with the result.
“Of course. If you're leading, 2-0, away, normally you're supposed to get at least one point and we took the one point. But of course, we all want to win. If you watch the game. they had more chances than we had. So, sometimes, the game is like that. We have to deal with that, and we have to take this point as a winning point, not as a losing game, or like losing two points. That’s a winning point. I want to look at this as a positive way.”
The bottom line is that FC Cincinnati earned a point on the road. A good result. However, it this match showed some concerning things. It showed that the team has not improved enough on the back line. The team still lacks the ability to not just clear the ball back to the opposition, but to win the ball and start their own attack. But also, and perhaps most concerning is this... It showed to other teams how to play them. The match showed that while FC Cincinnati’s attack is indeed dangerous, they can be rendered useless by cutting them off from the defense.
Jaap Stam on his club's performance.
“I don't have any concerns. You know sometimes we need to make changes. First game after preseason some players get a little bit of a cramp as well, so we need to have a look at that and how they're feeling. At times in these games as well, you see that you need to defend in certain games more than others, and that's what they've done today as well. That’s a very promising thing. It’s an important point for us to take home."
"Everybody’s always talking about how difficult it is to get results away from home. We get a result and a point in Nashville, which is a positive thing. To get to the level of playing that we want to eventually want to go takes time. That’s what you’ve seen today by seeing good bits and also bits that look like you need to defend a lot as well. That’s what happened, but that means that the players are willing to work for each other, that the mentality is there, the grit is there. They stick up for each other and by doing that they have that positive feeling as a team as well.”
Jaap Stam and his staff have to figure out, STILL, how to bridge the gap between attack and defense. The first step to solving a problem is knowing that you have one. While perhaps not concerned, hopefully Stam knows that there's a problem.
Help is on the way, however not quickly. Center back signing Gustavo Vallecilla is awaiting his work visa, then will require time to quarantine. The good news is that they have fewer problems than they’ve had. FCC will take their point into New York when they square off against NYC FC on Saturday at 1pm. We’ll see if Stam can solve some problems in the meantime. Whether the club improves on defense or not, this year is going to be Exciting!!
By: Rob Burkhardt