Deeper Cuts: Late Arrivals, xG, Hydra is Back, “It Means Absolutely Nothing”

Many downgraded FC Cincinnati’s chances for success this season after the 4-1 drubbing in Seattle on March 2. Three weeks later, the Orange & Blue occupy second place in the Eastern Conference, and the outlook has changed. That lofty ranking may be irrelevant this early in the season, but after a 2-0 road victory over the New England Revolution, optimism is high.

Late Arrivals Pay Dividends

Fanendo Adi made noise in preseason about the team not having enough attacking options. Since then, technical director Luke Sassano landed Kekuta Manneh on February 14th and Kenny Saief via loan on March 6th.

Those late additions had had a key role in helping a squad limited by international call-ups take maximum points in Week 4.

Kekuta Manneh had a goal, an assist, two key passes, and an 81% passing accuracy in the opposition half.

Kenny Saief matched Manneh’s goal and assist totals against the Revs, and now has two assists and a goal in only 94 minutes played in an FC Cincinnati jersey.

Both made MLS Team of the Week, albeit during a week without a full slate of matches. Greg Garza earned a spot on the bench after his first FCC start, and Alan Koch claims coach of the week honors for the second week in a row.

Expected Goals (xG)

Also for the second week in a row, FC Cincinnati outperformed their expected goals metric. This week they scored two goals based on an xG of 1.49.

New England outshot FCC, but had only 2 shots on target out of 17, and a lower xG of 1.25. Despite that low expected-goals number, the Revs should have bagged at least one. Spencer Richey was a difference maker again with an inspired double-save in the 61st minute.

The Hydra* is Back

No opponent has kept a clean sheet against FC Cincinnati yet. Furthermore, FCC has scored 7 goals in 4 games, and each one was provided by a different player.

Leo Bertone, Roland Lamah, Kendall Waston, Allan Cruz, Mathieu Deplagne, Kekuta Manneh, and Kenny Saief have all hit the back of the net.

FC Cincinnati’s 2018 USL roster featured a hydra-attack that could hurt opponents in many different ways. That model was a highlight of their title-winning season, even though the goal scorers became more concentrated as the team settled into an identity. Alan Koch will want his bona-fide strikers like Adi and Mattocks in on the action soon, but right now the goals by committee approach is working.

“It Means Absolutely Nothing”

Given FC Cincinnati’s difficult three-game start, few predicted such a high point total after four matches. Alan Koch is now in temper-expectations-mode while still handing out praise for the team’s fast start.

“If you had said to me that at the start of the season after four games, and after having to play these particular four games that we’ve had, that we would have seven points, I would have said you’re crazy. So full credit to the players, full credit to the staff. Everyone is buying into what we are asking them to do. They are willing to be selfless. They are working for each other and we continue to improve. But we are not going to get carried away. It’s still early. You don’t gain anything in this league by being anywhere in the table after four games. It means absolutely nothing. It’s a long, long season. But I am happy for the players, they will take a lot of confidence from this which will help them continue to grow as a group.”

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2019 season.

*The Hydra is a creature in Greek mythology that had nine heads and is a term used to describe teams that produce offense through a committee of players.

One thought on “Deeper Cuts: Late Arrivals, xG, Hydra is Back, “It Means Absolutely Nothing”

Have Your Say

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: