Preview: FC Cincinnati (a).
When? Saturday August 7, 4:30 p.m. PT, 7:30 p.m. ET & 00:30 BST (8/8).
Where? TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, OH.
How can I catch the action? MLS Live on ESPN+ and DAZN for residents of the United States and Canada. Fox 35 Plus and LionNationTV for residents of central Florida. The game is available via radio locally on FM 96.9 The Game, Accion 97.9 FM and 810 AM. The game is being broadcast on FreeSports for us UK folk (FreeView channel 64, and via the FreeSports app).
It's a first ever visit to TQL Stadium for Orlando City this weekend, where they will face off against a struggling FC Cincinnati side. Jaap Stam's squad spent big during the off-season, acquiring the likes of Brenner for big money. You have to think that their season hasn't lived up to expectations so far. This is a club that is winless in 7, having failed to score in their last 3. Only Toronto have shipped more goals than Cincinnati, and only Chicago, Inter Fort Lauderdale and Toronto have scored fewer. FC Cincinnati also haven't had the best preparation for this game, with GM Gerard Nijkamp getting the boot on Saturday. Orlando have had issues picking up points against the so-called 'lesser sides'. This would be as good a game as any to start correcting that.
FC Cincinnati's style
You mean, apart from conceding a lot and not scoring very many? It's sort of hard to look past that, you know? They have an alarmingly high XGa rating of 1.76, and a modest XG rating of 1.06. And modest is me being kind by the way; they rank 21/27 for XG. They concede an average of 1.81 goals per game (figure 1). Cincinnati games have manifested an average of 2.88 goals per game. Rather bizarre footnote, only 9 of their 29 conceded have come at home. Albeit, they've only played 6 home games. An average of 1.5 GA at home is still alarming, though. I'd be a little concerned if Orlando weren't able to get on the board in this one.
This is a team that struggles massively at the other end too, having failed to score in 44% of their games. This particular statistic has them ranked 3/27, only behind Austin FC and Inter Fort Lauderdale in most games without a goal. They have a modest average of 13.06 shots per game, with an exceptionally low conversion rate of 8%. Their shots on target percentage of 35.1% (from 188 attempts) is also far from league leading. They're heavily reliant on Brenner (3 goals, 1 assist) and Luciano Acosta (4 goals, 3 assists) for their attacking umph. Umpf? I don't know, but you take my meaning. If Brenner and Acosta aren't on song, they're as toothless as Baby Yoda on dentinox.
Figure 1 shows select scoring statistics for Cincinnati's season so far.
Figure 2 shows further scoring statistics for FC Cincinnati's season so far.
FC Cincinnati have a couple of injury concerns heading into this game. Calvin Harris, Maikel van der Waarf and Zico Bailey are all listed as out. Florian Valot and Tyler Blackett have checked in, but this game will come too soon for both. Blackett is an interesting signing. He was at Jaap Stam's old club, Reading. He spent last season with my Nottingham Forest, and really struggled for game time. He's not the quickest, and so it'll be interesting to see how he adapts to the frenetic nature of MLS.
Orlando City, meanwhile, could welcome Daryl Dike back into the fold. Though, honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if he sat this one out. Sebas Mendez and Alexandre Pato will definitely be missing, whilst Pedro Gallese is a doubt. Junior Urso is currently listed as questionable, but should be fit for this one.
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Possible starting XI
In some respects, as is the case most weeks, this line-up prediction is my best guesstimate. Given that Cincy only played on Thursday, it's hard to imagine there won't be at least some rotation. I think they'll revert to a 4-3-3. They've flitted between that and a 4-2-3-1, but I think the 3 will allow them to stretch the field a bit more, and also combat Orlando's #10 (whoever that might be). As such I think they'll line up a little something like this:
Brenner has taken to MLS reasonably well, especially when you consider the quality of the side he's joined. He's a pacy player with plenty of ability. He's a player who likes to dribble and go past players. He's comfortably one of Cincinnati's greatest attacking threats; he's had 19 shots on the season so far, with 10 being on target and 3 finding the net. His conversion rate of 15.8% isn't too shabby at all. If he had better service, there's no telling what he could do.
FC Cincinnati come into this game amidst a rotten run of form. They haven't scored in their last 3, and are winless in 7. Their 3-7-6 record has them sat 10th in the east, 9 points off the play-off places.
Orlando City's form has been patchy of late, as we know. Defeat in New York and a disappointing draw with Beckham FC sandwiched an enthralling win over Atlanta. Orlando are 8-5-4 on the season, and currently sit 2nd in the east.
NB As with the week's earlier posts, this article will look different to it's usual format. Technical issues with Wix mean I can't use any embeds, certain fonts and a few other bits and pieces. Hopefully it will be sorted soon.
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