Charlotte Independence 4 – 1 FC Cincinnati: Deeper Cuts

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Image: Joe Craven

FC Cincinnati’s 4-1 head-scratcher of a loss against Charlotte suddenly brings the team’s momentum to a screeching halt. The 10 goals during the three-game winning streak cloaked the fact that the only clean sheet during that stretch came against a struggling Ottawa team. The poor performance comes at a bad time, as Detroit City FC fans will likely be flaunting that score before the second-round U.S. Open Cup tangle on Wednesday.

Here are some items that stand out after the first leg of the Queen Cities Cup.

Difference in Attacks

Four goals given up against a team that hadn’t scored in over 400 minutes could be considered an anomaly, but the trend doesn’t look so good. While winning is ultimately the main goal, opponents have been able to fire shots at FCC.

  • April 28 at Ottawa: 14 shots for, 10 against.
  • May 2 at Indy: 16 shots for, 17 against.
  • May 5 vs. Atlanta 2: 13 shots for, 14 against.
  • May 12 at Charlotte: 9 shots for, 15 against.
FCC CLT shots 05122018
Shot chart for FCC (green) and CLT.

All four goals against Spencer Richey came from atop the 18 directly in front of the goal. However, the line of attack and general spray of the shots came from all angles. Charlotte succeeded in targeting the defense’s inability to keep the ball out of the middle and Richey’s difficulty with the corners of the net.

On the other hand, while FCC managed to crack Charlotte’s defense once, their attack might have been considered predictable. The 4-4-2 diamond formation has been good for ball control, but that has led to one-sided heat maps and average formations. Danni König and Manu Ledesma have been productive, but both have tended to gravitate to one side, leaving the far side relatively unexplored. Even substituting Jimmy McLaughlin on as a third attacker did not lead to a balanced attack.

FCC CLT avg 05122018
The average field positions for the FCC and CLT Starting XI.

Note that Charlotte (black) managed a relatively symmetric attack on FCC’s defensive half, while FCC’s offense was heavily featured to the left of goalkeeper Brandon Miller. If teams do not have to worry about attacks from one side, something needs to be adjusted.

Accumulation Warnings

Perhaps one of the surprising changes from 2016 to 2017—other than the obvious managerial change—was the sudden up-tick in bookings. The Orange & Blue picked up 48 yellow cards and only one red in 2016, but those numbers increased to 64 yellows and nine reds in 2017. That lack of luck and control during some of these games were major concerns in the offseason.

FCC Fouls YC 05132018
Total number of fouls conceded (left) and yellow cards in the Eastern Conference.

In general, fouls conceded by FCC are slightly down from last year, but still at a concerning clip. The team has won 86 fouls so far, but they have given up 128, a little over 14 per game. Only Charleston has given up more fouls in the Eastern Conference.

FCC has done well to avoid the red cards that plagued them early in the 2017 season. However, the team is accumulating yellow cards at a rate much faster than the previous two years. Consider the numbers over the first nine games of the season and how they are trending against FCC:

  • 2016: 10 yellow cards to FCC, 18 to opponents.
  • 2017: 14 yellow cards to FCC, 19 to opponents.
  • 2018: 21 yellow cards to FCC, 14 to opponents.

Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with a physical presence on the field, but the quick accumulation of cards is starting to lead to suspensions. Forrest Lasso will already sit out a game on Saturday against NCFC for picking up his fifth. For comparison’s sake, the first suspension for yellow-card accumulation in 2016 was on July 30th (Harrison Delbridge). The first in 2017 was on August 5th (Aodhan Quinn).

Yellow card suspensions probably were not the biggest concern for this team, as squad depth was ready to be tested. However, nagging injuries and early roster departures have suddenly made certain players indispensable. Let’s hope that this team can right the ship for big USL games against Lou City, Red Bulls II, and NCFC.

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for coverage of this week’s U.S. Open Cup match against Detroit City FC and FCC’s first match against North Carolina FC.

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Author: Geoffrey Tebbetts

Contributor for the Orange & Blue Press for FC Cincinnati coverage.

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