This article is the third installment of a series from Orange and Blue Press on preseason battles. The focus of this article is on one of the more well defined areas of the field for FC Cincinnati, wingers. Let’s look at the players in contention to start in these wide positions.
Andrew Wiedeman – He is FC Cincinnati’s first ever goalscorer and, after Okoli, was the leading goalscorer last season with seven goals. He also brings a lot of intangibles to the team. He provides leadership, MLS credentials, and uses the ball well every time it’s at his feet. In preseason, we’ve seen Wiedeman start in two positions: in his customary wide right role, and as part of the central two midfielders in a 4-1-4-1 formation.
Jimmy McLaughlin – McLaughlin was constant on the left wing last season under Harkes. He was also the one player on last year’s roster that consistently wanted to dribble at defenses. He had a hot streak in the middle of the 2016 season where he was scoring goals and providing assists, but faded a bit statistically toward the end of the year.
Kadeem Dacres – Dacres terrorized FC Cincinnati’s defense in three matches last season while playing for Louisville City. He looks excellent in preseason, playing most often in a wide right position. Like McLaughlin he specializes at dribbling at defenses and making them uncomfortable. Kadeem’s quickness with the ball at his feet is unparalleled on this roster.
Andy Craven – The Seattle Sounders product can play center forward but has featured mostly on the wing for FC Cincinnati in preseason. He did get some time leading the line last weekend against UC. He’s looked decent enough in preseason, but hasn’t made quite the impression that Dacres has given similar amounts of playing time.
Casey Townsend – Casey was signed late last season for depth at forward after Omar Cummings went down with a knee injury. In preseason, he’s only featured in wide attacking positions. He was active on the left wing in Bradenton, and provided a nice assist on Delbridge’s last minute equalizer against Sacramento.
Andrew Wiedeman and Jimmy McLaughlin featured heavily in 2016’s starting eleven and were a big part of what made FC Cincinnati’s offense, and Sean Okoli, successful last year. This pair will start on the wings early in FC Cincinnati’s season. Alan Koch needs to find a way to get Kadeem Dacres on the field though. Every time he touches the ball, it looks like something good will follow. Kadeem will be the first player off the bench for FC Cincinnati, with a good chance to break into the starting eleven as the season progresses. Andy Craven is a good player and hasn’t put a foot wrong in preseason. He hasn’t done enough though to break through the established players in front of him. Like Craven, Townsend can operate as a forward or a wide player but will have difficulty breaking through for playing time.
One of the challenges for Koch and FC Cincinnati this season is that good players are going to sit on the bench in 2017. They have multiple good players in each position. It’s a good problem to have as a coach, and the depth will be needed for a long, physical USL campaign. Omar Cummings is one last name to mention in this conversation. Cummings is a forward, but played primarily on the right when he was healthy last year. Once he returns to full fitness, the veteran may again be an option on the right side of FC Cincinnati’s attack.