While the fans were able to finally welcome FC Cincinnati home to Nippert Stadium for the all-important first clash against Louisville City, the Orange & Blue dropped a disappointing 1-0 decision to the defending USL champions. FCC dictated pace and play, especially in the second half, owning the numbers game over Lou City. However, the statistics also indicate that FC Cincinnati could not capitalize on the offensive side of the ball.
Let’s dive deeper into the numbers and consider the Orange & Blue’s approach in their next game against LCFC.
Over the first two games of the season, FCC got out to an early lead, then held the defensive line for the final 60 minutes or so. But Lou City managed to do the defending in Saturday’s match. They jumped out to a quick lead by playing the ball deep to the end line and depending on clutter in the box to get the goal.
— Louisville City FC (@loucityfc) April 7, 2018
Lou City did this a few times to start the game, but once the lead was taken, they were content to fall back and dare FCC to beat them offensively. The heat maps and possession numbers (55% to 45%) indicate that FCC won the possession battle by the end of the game. However, the heat maps also show that Louisville owned the ball more in their own box later in the game and kept FCC from penetrating too deeply.
With Luke Spencer out of the lineup, Lou City played a 3-4-3 formation. This put early pressure on the FCC defense and allowed the midfielders to pull back in the second half. The clearances showed just how anxious Lou City was to play keep-away, owning a 44-16 advantage in that statistic. Defenseman Paco Craig alone had 13, including the goal line clearance in the first half that kept the 1-0 lead.
For the most part, FCC did a good job in keeping possession of the ball and controlling the stats when it came to duels (52% to 48%) and passing accuracy (83% to 77%). However, one unseen set of numbers was not in FCC’s favor—dribbling.
A successful dribble is defined as one where a player has the ball and is able to beat the defender while retaining possession. FCC managed to dominate that statistic, successful 10 times to Lou City’s 5. However, FCC also lost the dribble 10 times (as shown in the red triangles), while Lou City lost it only once. While FCC was doing well to challenge the defense and get around them, they were only successful half the time.
This may be a minor development since FCC was willing to challenge the defenders in the first place. However, a lot of those unsuccessful dribbles were lost and cleared around the Lou City box. No matter how many passes they put together, FCC couldn’t get past the last line of defense.
Finishing the job
In general, while FC Cincinnati enjoyed plenty of runs at the Lou City box, the team could not put the finishing touch past Lou City’s defense and goalkeeper. They hammered 16 shots at goal in the game, but only managed three on target, all in the first half. Much of the rest of the attacks on frame flew astray.
While there was a ton of pressure put on Louisville City late in the game, the crossing passes were not on target. FC Cincinnati launched 37 crosses in the game to Louisville’s 10, but only 6 hit their mark. As the game got closer to the end, FCC resorted to a constant barrage of crosses from Lance Laing and Jimmy McLaughlin on the left, but very few found their mark.
Perhaps the cross selection got a bit predictable and allowed the Louisville back line to settle in place. Maybe Kenney Walker’s absence forced play too far to the edges. Perhaps the switch to a two-man midfield made the middle approach obsolete. Regardless, Lou City appeared more comfortable parrying the crosses, as FCC’s approaches tended to be late.
Despite all of the unsuccessful crosses and shots, FCC kept the game manageable for the full 90. Louisville showed their cards as a team that will rely heavily on a defensive front, especially when their offense is depleted. However, FCC is in a very similar “defensive-ball” situation. Until the offense leans more on passes within the box and less on deep crosses, you can expect more 1-0 games in the future.
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