Deeper Cuts: Opposite Halves, Searching for Offense, and the Captain on Frustration

Photo Credit: FC Cincinnati

Despite an improved second-half performance, FC Cincinnati couldn’t recover from a 38th-minute Connor Lade strike and lost the fourth match in their last five outings. This edition of Deeper Cuts takes a look two very different halves, the Orange & Blue’s struggling offense, and the bright spot in the captain’s performance.

Tale of Two Halves

For the second straight match, FC Cincinnati maintained an overall possession advantage (albeit slight) but didn’t score a goal. In this match, New York had the majority of possession (55%) in the first 45 minutes, but the roles shifted in the second half as FCC found a spark and the home side protected a slim lead.

New York had an 8-2 shot advantage in the first half, while FC Cincinnati had a 6-4 shot advantage in the second. The Orange & Blue made 2 successful dribbles in the first half, but 9 in the second. They had only 2 recoveries in New York’s half in the first 45 minutes, but 10 in the second 45.

After the match, Kendall Waston, FC Cincinnati’s captain, bemoaned the team inability to start the game with the same intensity they played with after the break.

“If we start every game the same way we did in the second half, we are going to have more chances to win than to lose,” said Waston. “We’ve just got to continue fighting and the minimum thing is we have to show that we find a togetherness. Second half, we did it.”

Still Searching for Offense

Two months into their 2019 season, FC Cincinnati is still searching for success in the final third. They have been shutout in their last three matches and haven’t scored from open play since Week 4 against the New England Revolution.

The players may feel unlucky not to have scored against the Red Bulls after hitting the woodwork three times. However, after nine matches they have the third lowest goal total in MLS and are lowest in the league in both shots per game, and shots on target per game.

Stats via whoscored.com

Emmanuel Ledesma, who recently returned from a hamstring injury, started this match at forward as a change-up to Darren Mattocks. FCC is still without Fanendo Adi, who did not travel to New Jersey despite being reinstated by MLS last Thursday.

Ledesma had 34 touches, 1 blocked shot, 4 unsuccessful crosses (3 were corner kicks), a 74% passing accuracy, but also 10 unsuccessful passes in the opposition half. The offense wasn’t clicking, and Manu likely needs more time to play into good form. He was substituted in favor of Darren Mattocks in the 63rd minute.

The Jamaican forward injected some pace into FCC’s attack, but produced just 1 off-target shot, which was one of the three that hit the post. He had 17 touches and completed 8 passes at a 50% accuracy. Had his angled shot found the back of the net, the narrative might be more upbeat, but the total offensive numbers are pretty sparse in this game and this season.

The Red Bulls aren’t exactly setting offensive records either. They started Brian White in place of the injured Bradley Wright-Phillips and mustered only 1 shot on target in 12 attempts. That shot from Connor Lade decided the match and brings them up to 9 goals on the season, the fifth-lowest total in MLS.

Waston on Frustration

Not many FC Cincinnati player stats from this match paint a favorable picture, but Waston’s numbers are an exception. He had 92 touches (most on the team) and won 10 aerial duels. He also won 3 tackles, made 3 interceptions and 4 clearances, and completed 7 of 13 long passes. The captain hit the woodwork in stoppage time, in another “almost” moment for FCC.

“We feel frustrated with ourselves because we tried our best,” said Waston after the match. “We were thinking before the game, okay this is the game we have to win . . . Sometimes in football things don’t go your way, but this is where the real character of the individual shows.”

Up next are two more on the road, including FC Cincinnati’s first midweek match against the Philadelphia Union, a team that defeated them soundly one month ago at Nippert. Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of the busy week ahead.

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