There are just over three weeks left of preseason before FC Cincinnati’s March 17 “Groundhog Day” opener against the Charleston Battery. Here are a few thoughts to wrap up the week after reflecting on the 2-1 preseason rehearsal against Indy Eleven.
Results don’t mean much in preseason, and that certainly applies to Thursday’s match, but the win is good for confidence. Both 11-man squads found the back of the net, and the second squad won the game after conceding early, so there are plenty of positives to take away.
It’s worth noting, however, that Indy had plenty of scoring chances of their own, mostly via the counter-attack. If they had been more clinical in front of goal, Indy would have certainly scored more than once. They’re also not as far along in their preseason—Jack McInearny and Soony Saad had just signed this week, and Indy only landed their head coach about a month ago. It’s preseason. Enough said.
Corben as #10
Mr. Bone’s preseason form to date has been notable. The Plano, TX native scored the lone goal against New England in the first preseason match. He also started in the #10 role (central attacking midfield behind the forward) vs. Tampa Bay, and against the Eleven yesterday he got 60 minutes in that same position.
A lot of preseason speculators gifted that role to Nazmi Albadawi, but FC Cincinnati’s #19 is certainly making his case to Alan Koch. Keep an eye on this space over the next four local matches, especially in the two against USL competition. Nazmi certainly has plenty of time to claim a playmaking role, and as a new member of the squad, he probably isn’t as settled yet into the team and the environment here in Cincinnati.
One can also make the case that there should be a fair bit of rotation between Bone, Albadawi, Walker, and Ryan in the central midfield roles. Three of those four players are 29 years old or older, so having depth in central midfield over the course of a long campaign will be important.
Newton Is a Wall
All three goalkeepers are looking good so far, but Evan Newton continues to impress. The former Sacramento Republic netminder had three key saves in the first 60 minutes to keep a clean sheet for his unit. So far this preseason, despite the fact that wins don’t mean much yet, Newton has yet to surrender a goal in the three games he has appeared.
Furthermore, FC Cincinnati’s goalkeeping trio has looked sharp and prepared each time out. All three have only conceded two total goals this preseason, with the second being a penalty kick that was just out of Spencer Richey’s reach yesterday. Jack Stern’s energetic style is infectious and seems to have created quick bonds between the three goalkeepers. They are a bright spot so far this preseason.
Haber Shines on the Second Team
Daniel Haber put his name on the scoresheet in emphatic fashion yesterday. The 25-year-old Canadian winger should have netted twice during his 30 minutes—not only did he score the winning goal from a feed from Matt Bahner, but he put a good chance over the crossbar in the 87th.
Haber is one we called out at the beginning of Phase Two as a player to watch. There’s a lot of competition for places on the wing and there are some heavy hitters ahead of him. However, Haber looks primed to push those veterans for minutes in March and the USL regular season. Additionally, FC Cincinnati needs dynamic substitutes with scoring ability that can change a game. Haber should certainly be able to fill that role if he can’t battle his way into a regular starting position.
So that’s a wrap for the traveling portion of FC Cincinnati’s eight-match preseason slate. Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more coverage of the 2018 preseason including next Tuesday’s friendly against NKU.