FC Cincinnati at Pittsburgh: Three Rivers Roundup

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Photo Credit: Ross Almers

FC Cincinnati looks to rebound from their opening day loss when they face the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Highmark Stadium on Saturday. The Riverhounds began their season with an impressive 3-3 draw against last years’ USL champion, New York Red Bulls II. Before turning more attention to the Riverhounds, one has to mention some notable transfer business.

Just Hoyte Signs for FC Cincinnati

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Photo Credit: JES Photography / Joe Schmuck

FC Cincinnati’s front office dropped some headline-making news on Wednesday, announcing the signing of former Arsenal defender Justin Hoyte. Hoyte appeared as an unnamed trialist with FC Cincinnati in preseason and inked a deal for the 2017 season this week. Hoyte made 68 appearances for Arsenal, including 50 starts between 2003 and 2008. He primarily featured as a right fullback. Hoyte was part of the Arsenal Invincibles squad that went undefeated in the Premier League in 2003-2004, but didn’t make enough appearances to earn a winner’s medal. Hoyte spent the most of his time with Middlesbrough in the English Championship after leaving Arsenal in 2008. He was an England Youth International and also made several appearances for the Trinidad and Tobago senior national team. Hoyte obviously has the quality to go straight into FC Cincinnati’s lineup, but hasn’t played competitively since April of 2016. We may not know how he fits into Koch’s defense until he spends more time with the team and reaches full match fitness. Hoyte will travel with FC Cincinnati to Pittsburgh.

Riverhounds Roundup

The Pittsburgh match on Saturday is the second of a challenging set of three consecutive road matches for FC Cincinnati to start the 2017 season. Last season, FC Cincinnati fared well against a Riverhounds team that finished near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. They won twice and drew once against Pittsburgh. All three matches were low scoring.

Orange and Blue Press caught up with John Krysinsky of the Pittsburgh Soccer Report for some inside information on this weekend’s opponent.

The Riverhounds had a good 3-3 result again New York Red Bulls II last week. What did they do well in that match?

“Unlike a year ago, the Hounds were persistently able to sustain an attack and were creating opportunities in the final third.” 

Which Riverhounds player could ruin FC Cincinnati’s day on Saturday? Why?
 
“Corey Hertzog has an uncanny ability to score anywhere in and around the box if he gets the ball near his feet.  He is playing with a lot of confidence coming off a career high 13-goal season, a strong preseason and having scored twice in the opener.” 

Who is the best offseason addition that the Hounds have made (one we will likely see on Saturday)? Why?
 
“It’s early, and we haven’t seen some new players that didn’t start vs NYRBII that I think could have an impact. Based on what I saw in the preseason and in the opener, the outside backs Taylor Washington, the 2016 Philadelphia Union 1st Round SuperDraft pick and Rich Balchan, a veteran who played for Ottawa Fury last season, are going to be solid, reliable contributors to an area that had a lot of turnover and players out of position a year ago.”
 
How will the Riverhounds set up against FC Cincinnati? How defensive of an approach should we expect? 
 
“It was unique to watch in this era some may have declared the end of the 4-4-2, that on Saturday in the opener to see two teams playing this formation. When on the attack, the Hounds are more or less in a 4-2-2-2.  Unlike the Riverhounds teams under Mark Steffens that played a lot of diagonal balls and relied on attacking midfielders in 4-2-3-1, and slightly more deliberate in trying to develop more of a possession game, this unit will try to get into the final third quickly and get the ball to their two savvy, veteran forwards. Defensively, they still have work to do. Each of the three center backs (Agbossoumonde, Jack and Adeleye) had shaky moments and Head Coach Dave Brandt acknowledged that they are “going to need to get way, way better” in that area. Victor Souto, a Brazilian that played at Akron, had a decent debut in one of the defensive midfield spots.”
 
Score Prediction from John Krysinsky

I think this is another draw for the Hounds.  Since these teams played 1-0, 0-0 and 1-0 last year I’ll go with 1-1.”

Orange and Blue Press Prediction

Like FC Cincinnati, there have been a lot of offseason changes for Pittsburgh, the Columbus Crew SC affiliate. Based on a small sample size, they appear to be an improved outfit and should be more dangerous in the final third than last year’s squad. Expect the Riverhounds to play a defense first style and try to hit FC Cincinnati on the counter.

FC Cincinnati’s offense should find more joy against Pittsburgh than they did against a stout Battery back line. Look for the Orange and Blue to find the back of the net twice and Djiby to be on the scoresheet again. The defense isn’t watertight yet, but they’ll show an improved performance after another week of employing Koch’s system. FC Cincinnati wins 2-1 in front of a loud traveling Cincinnati contingent.

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