FC Cincinnati 4 – 1 North Carolina FC: Deeper Cuts

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Image: Joe Craven

FC Cincinnati was on target at Nippert Stadium and thrilled over 22 thousand supporters with four goals in a statement victory against North Carolina FC. The win keeps them on top of the Eastern Conference heading into another busy week of U.S. Open Cup and league action. In our Deeper Cuts segment we dig further into the result and put it into context of FC Cincinnati’s season to date.

Offense Keeps Ticking

FC Cincinnati’s offense is in full stride ten games into the season. Nazmi Albadawi and Emmanuel Ledesma were the headline makers on Saturday, but FCC’s score-from-anywhere “Hydra” offense pulls goals and chance creation from all over the roster.

The Orange & Blue can boast five different goal-scorers with at least 3 goals, five different players with assists, and 13 different players that have created at least 3 chances. Emmanuel Ledesma scores goals, but his impact as a playmaker has been even more significant. He leads the team in both assists (7) and chances created (19) by some margin.

FC Cincinnati is now third in the USL and first in the Eastern Conference in goals scored with 20 total. They’ve scored 15 goals in their last five games and scored at least 3 goals in 4 of the their last 5 matches. Their conversion rate (goals / non-blocked shots) is tied for first in USL at 20%. In ten matches, they’ve only been held goalless one time (versus Louisville City FC). Only Phoenix Rising FC and Portland Timbers 2 have scored more goals in USL play and both teams have played one more match than FCC. This is a fun team to watch right now.

Ryan’s Foundation

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Ryan’s Distribution against NCFC, via Opta on USL

The man almost never misses a pass. Orange & Blue Press highlighted Richie Ryan’s metronome-like presence in the midfield earlier this season. He played that role again on Saturday in one of FC Cincinnati’s best possession-based performances of the 2018 campaign.

Against North Carolina FC, he led the midfield with 64 passes at a staggering 95% completion rate. He also had a perfect 100% pass completion percentage in the opponent’s half. His distribution, consistency, and decision-making at the base of FC Cincinnati’s midfield is the platform on which their successful attack is built. His steady presence, especially with Walker and Bone just in front of him in the diamond, provides FCC’s more attacking players with service and freedom to create.

In truth though, it was a really good passing night for the team overall. Seven FCC players had an 80% passing accuracy or higher, all of them in the back line or the diamond midfield.

Paddy in the Back

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Image: Joe Craven

Paddy Barrett made his second start of the season in USL play and third start overall on Saturday. A big talking point going into the match against NCFC was the absence of Forrest Lasso, who was suspended for yellow card accumulation. Let’s take a deeper look at how Paddy fared on a good defensive night for the Orange & Blue.

Barrett had 64 passes, the most of any defender, at a 87.7% pass completion rate. He won 7 of 11 duels and won 5 of 7 aerial duels. Add to that 2 tackles, 3 clearances, and an interception. That adds up to a reliable defensive performance.

Outside of the numbers, the defense was organized and didn’t look that vulnerable in the air without the towering presence of Lasso. They were minutes away from securing a coveted clean sheet, but it wasn’t meant to be. FCC had a 17-4 advantage in tackles and 82.4% tackle success rate. Compare that to their average success rate for the season of about 65%.

So a good night on both sides of the ball unsurprisingly equates to a convincing victory. Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for coverage of another action-packed week for the Orange & Blue.

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