Seven games into their season, FC Cincinnati has now played more games without forward Fanendo Adi than with him. They are surviving so far by relying on a goals-by-committee approach and a system that emphasizes the team.
Kekuta Manneh is helping to fill the void left by FC Cincinnati’s primary Designated Player. He has a goal and an assist since March 17th when Adi was injured.
“I think the team has responded well,” Manneh explained. “We’ve scored a few goals while (Adi) was away. Obviously, he’s a big part of our team. He’s our DP and a starter on our team. We miss him. He brings something different for our game. I’ve always said this though, that we have a system in place and we’re going to do that. Adi’s definitely a big miss. We’d be glad to welcome him back in the next week or so.”
Adi didn’t find the back of the net in the three games that he started before his injury, so FCC wasn’t relying on him early in the season. Alan Koch’s side has scored 8 goals total (tied for 5th best in the Eastern Conference) and boasts eight different goalscorers. Five of their eight goals have come without Adi in the lineup.
Times have been tougher recently, however. They’ve only scored once in the past three matches. The good news is that they are still creating enough high-quality chances.
“Obviously he’s a big piece of our attack and our main focus,” said midfielder Victor Ulloa about Adi’s absence. “But I think that Darren (Mattocks) has stepped up really well and I think we have the players and the group to fill that spot and I think they’ve done a great job. We’re missing the goal a little bit right now, but we’re creating chances and that’s the most important thing.”
Based on expected goals (xG) metrics, FC Cincinnati should have scored 1-2 more goals than the single goal they netted against Sporting Kansas City two weeks ago. They also should have bagged at least one against LAFC last week, but were shut out instead. LAFC’s Tyler Miller produced a highlight-reel save in that match to deny Darren Mattocks a goal in first-half stoppage time.
Although the timeline for Adi’s return still remains unclear, he is back in Cincinnati and is now training alongside the team. However, he cannot fully participate until further notice from MLS.
“He’s still doing some rehab, at this time, and we’re still waiting for his situation to be resolved before we can move forward with planning with him,” said Koch. “It’s such a grey area, we’re waiting for any situation to get resolved first before we can do any preparations with him.”
The short story of Adi’s absence so far is that FC Cincinnati is both creating chances and scoring goals without him. They are underachieving recently on their expected goals, however, and need to show that they can finish their chances on home turf this Friday against Real Salt Lake.