North Carolina FC 0 – 2 FC Cincinnati: Bonus Track

Image: Ryan Meyer

The Bonus Track segment is an abridged version of Orange & Blue Press’ Deeper Cuts series. It takes one or two components of a recent match and breaks them down in more detail.

We may be 13 games into FC Cincinnati’s season, but the halfway point of the away schedule is just about here. Save for the hiccup against Charlotte, the team has been rock-solid on the road. The 2-0 clean sheet at North Carolina FC was their sixth road win in eight USL games. Throw in the US Open Cup win on the road against Pittsburgh last month, and FCC has enjoyed their best nine-game road stretch ever (7-1-1).

The more surprising number from the team’s road dominance might be how well the defense is playing. In eight road games, FCC has a +6 goal differential and four clean sheets. However, in five home games, FCC has only a +2 goal differential and zero clean sheets. The numbers might be askew due to facing Louisville there twice already. It also helps that Evan Newton is back to form, as he’s had three of those four away shutouts.

Tale of Four Quarters

The unique 90-minute time limit makes typical soccer games easy to follow. A team will usually show up for one half and disappear in the next, or vice versa. This one felt more like a basketball game, as advantage seemed to swing between teams in the middle of each half.

The game probably wouldn’t have gone the way of the Orange & Blue had it not been for the hot conditions. NCFC fired the first six shots of the game before FCC could muster any offense. Had it not been for solid play by Paddy Barrett and Forrest Lasso, NCFC would have been on the board early.

The hydration break at the 26th minute gave the team a chance to cool down and get their bearings. FC Cincinnati was visibly rattled by their slow start. Manu Ledesma was flashed a yellow card just prior to the break due to a delay in play. After the H2O, FCC controlled possession, shots on net, and goals for the rest of the half. Despite the disparity in shots in the first half (5-8), most from NCFC came from a distance and in the first 25 minutes. FCC used control in the midfield to eventually lead to shots—and Danni König’s goal—inside the box later in the half.

The halftime break reset momentum, as NCFC obtained more control to swing the overall possession numbers in their favor (52% vs. FCC’s 48%). NCFC fired seven shots in the first 30 minutes of the second half to FCC’s one lone shot. However, the defense was instrumental during this stretch, helping FCC lead the half in interceptions (11-5) and clearances (14-7).

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Interceptions (left) and clearances (right) by NCFC (black) and FCC (green) in the 2nd half.

The key substitution—Jimmy McLaughlin coming on for Russell Cicerone in the 73rd minute—basically iced the game. Both teams had six shots after this sub, but FCC’s shots were accurate and at a shorter distance. Four of the six were on target, while only two of NCFC’s shots were on target.

Quality, Not Quantity

That’s the basic summary of this game. FCC used a combination of well-timed clearances and Newton’s hot hand in their half to keep many of NCFC’s 20 shots off-target or from way outside the box. On the other hand, FCC managed to penetrate the box for higher accuracy and success.

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Shot chart for FCC (green) and NCFC (black).

Considering that FCC was without a few key players due to Wednesday’s 120-minute affair, the result couldn’t have been better. Let’s see if Alan Koch’s men can ride out their most congested portion of the schedule with wins at home.

Follow Orange & Blue Press for this week’s coverage of the upcoming games against Bethlehem Steel FC and the Richmond Kickers.

Author: Geoffrey Tebbetts

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

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