FCC vs. Nashville: Goal Distribution, PK Concerns, and Goalkeepers

Analysis of FC Cincinnati’s goal distribution, defensive concerns, and goalkeeping battle after the preseason tilt vs. Nashville.

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FC Cincinnati finally made its 2018 home “debut” on Saturday before a sold-out throng of soccer-hungry fans, but there is one last week of preseason work before the team begins the harsh 2018 USL season. Let’s dive into how the team looks after its 2-2 preseason tie with Nashville SC.

Offense By Committee

The “closer by committee” concept may not exactly work for a baseball team, but so far, the idea of spreading around the offense is working for FCC. The goals by Lance Laing and Emery Welshman gives the squad 9 preseason goals in 5 games, and each has been scored by a separate player. So far, the midfield has scored the most (5), while the defenders and forwards have both scored twice.

Granted, a span of five games is a very small sample size, and we’ve only seen the team performing at a preseason level. But the distribution of goals could lead to some good results, especially if the offense scores at a click close to twice a game. Let’s consider some of the stats that came from the past two USL champions:

  • In 2017, Louisville City got 65 USL regular season goals from 17 players, even though their leading scorer (Luke Spencer) only had 11. By comparison, FCC only got 46 from 14 different players (Djiby with 15).
  • In 2016, New York Red Bulls II got 61 goals from 17 players, Brandon Allen leading with 15. While Sean Okoli led the league with 16, FCC only got a total of 41 from 11 players.

Simply put, the key to winning in the USL may be to not only score in high quantity but also to make sure the offense can come from any direction. One of the biggest problems FCC had last year was goal production outside of the forward position; 54% of the goals were scored by the forwards. That likely changes this year.

Preseason MVP?

The “Preseason MVP” is an absurd concept, but so far, we’ve seen some strong midfield performances, and if such an award existed, Lance Laing would garner a lot of votes. His movement along the left has provided speed and skill, and the crosses he’s delivered in previous games have been precise.

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Lance Laing

Laing’s goal from outside the box right before halftime against Nashville was deceptively filthy, catching the corner of the net past Pickens. While he put more shots on frame in the second half, Laing’s approach and hustle appeared to be contagious, as Blake Smith shook off a frustrating first half to burst up the side from feeds by Laing. Good things are happening on that side, which should also open Manu Ledesma on the opposite side of the field when the defense focuses on Laing.

Defensive Concerns

While it has been hard to let Harrison Delbridge leave for Melbourne City and watch Austin Berry retire, it’s safe to say that the FCC crowd has rallied behind the new pieces in the defensive line.

Early in the game, Dekel Keinan suffered a brutal and bloody injury over his right eye from contact during a header in the Nashville box. Keinan could have easily been taken out as a precaution. But after a few minutes on the ground, he patiently got medical treatment on the sidelines, then returned to the game to play a full 70 minutes. While it’s great to see Keinan stick it out, this was a scary moment that almost brought out the stretcher.

Let’s hope it’s merely a flesh wound.

While Keinan and Forrest Lasso played solid defense, the second squad’s late foul for a penalty kick is still a cause for concern. FC Cincinnati has given up only four goals in five games so far, but two have been from the penalty spot. The team will have to reverse the trend from last year, as they gave up many more penalty kick goals (8) than they created (3).

Who’s The New Mitch?

Spencer Richey looked relatively solid in net over the full 90 minutes, despite giving up a sun-screened first-half goal and a penalty-kick goal that went out of reach. So it’s still hard to say how Koch and goalkeeper coach Jack Stern will deploy the trio of goalkeepers this season.

On one hand, Richey has played the most minutes of all three goalkeepers and has played in all five games in some capacity. However, Richey and Village have both given up the four preseason goals, while Newton has not yielded any yet. An argument can be made that Newton hasn’t been fully tested yet, so it’s still difficult to make a final decision.

What we can assume is that it’s a two-keeper race for now, as Village appears to be in place for third on the depth chart. The game versus Sacramento should spell out the goalkeeping situation between Richey and Newton. Realistically, it appears that Koch can have more confidence in playing two goalkeepers than he did in 2017.

One More Week

The Orange & Blue will wrap up their preseason schedule this week with a match at Gettler Stadium versus the University of Cincinnati on Wednesday, followed by the first 2018 game in Nippert Stadium against Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday. By then, the team should be set in stone and ready to start the 2018 USL season.

Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press as we wrap up FC Cincinnati’s 2018  preseason slate.

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Richie Ryan

MLS Expansion News – Six Markets – 2/4

News from six markets competing with FC Cincinnati for an MLS expansion bid: Charlotte, Detroit, Nashville, NC Triangle, Sacramento, and Indianapolis.

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This article from Orange and Blue Press continues a series of articles related to MLS expansion news. These articles fall under the what have you done for me lately theme, and explore the most recent events in each city’s campaign to gain entry into MLS.

Since the first series of articles was released, two new markets threw their hat into the ring – Phoenix and Indianapolis. The expansion landscape across twelve cities is complex, dynamic, and several markets have a reasonable chance for a successful bid. Six of the twelve expansion markets are covered in this article. A separate article will follow in close proximity and cover the remaining six. Cincinnati will be covered last in order to review how news from other markets affects the Cincinnati bid.

If you’re looking for the basics of the current MLS expansion situation, see our MLS Expansion 101 article.


Charlotte

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Charlotte, North Carolina

Summary: Last week Mecklenburg County approved $43M in financing for the stadium renovation. However, the city of Charlotte cancelled the Friday meeting scheduled to review and potentially approve another $43M share from the city. Marcus Smith still submitted the MLS application on 1/31 without the city’s agreement to help fund the stadium. The city can still join the effort at a later date if they so choose.
News & Resources: 

  • 1/20 – Financial details of Charlotte’s stadium proposal are released. A key stadium funding vote is scheduled for 1/26. [Charlotte Business Journal]
  • 1/26 – Mecklenburg County approves plan to renovate Memorial stadium. The Charlotte City Council was scheduled to vote on the proposal on 1/27, but cancelled the meeting. They want more time to review and discuss the details of the proposal. [QC Football Chronicle]
  • 1/30 – Charlotte’s bid will move forward without city funding. The City of Charlotte is taking more time to consider whether to contribute tourism tax dollars to the cause. [Charlotte Post]
  • 1/31 – Charlotte submits its bid for MLS expansion despite lack of funding from the city. [Charlotte Business Journal]
  • 2/2 – Charlotte’s application is heavy on NASCAR, light on soccer according to the Charlotte Observer. The article maintains that the city is unlikely to chip in for the stadium. [Charlotte Observer]

Link with details of Charlotte’s TV Market, ownership group, existing team, and more.


Detroit

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Detroit, Michigan

Summary: Wayne County announces that it will move forward with the county’s stalled jail project unless an acceptable proposal for the property is submitted by February 10. This site has been the target location for the Detroit MLS stadium. The ownership team of Gilbert & Gores plans to submit a proposal to acquire that site before the February deadline. The Detroit bid submitted its application on 1/31.
News & Resources: 

  • 1/28 –  Detroit – The Detroit MLS bid’s target stadium location is no longer an option, unless a deal can be rescued by 2/10. [CBS Detroit]
  • 1/30 –  Gilbert & Gores will a submit proposal to redevelop the jail site before the 2/10 county deadline. [Crain’s]
  • 1/31 – Detroit submits its bid for MLS expansion. This thorough article includes a stadium plan and quotes from Alexi Lalas on the prospect of MLS in his hometown.  [Crain’s]

Link with details of Detroit’s TV Market, ownership group, existing team, and more.


Nashville 

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Nashville, TN

Summary: Nashville’s mayor recently joined the effort to bring MLS to town and affirmed that the Fairgrounds location is the best possible stadium site. Investors are targeting to have details of a public/private funding proposal in place by June. The Nashville group submitted their MLS application on January 31st.
News & Resources: 

  • 1/18 – Nashville MLS Expansion Profile – Brian Straus [SI]
  • 1/26 – Mayor Megan Barry announces support for the bid and involvement in the application process. She emphasizes that the Fairgrounds is the most suitable location for a new stadium. [Fox 17 Nashville]
  • 1/30 – Mayor Barry makes a public appearance to support the MLS bid. She sets a June timeframe to finalize a funding proposal for a stadium at the Fairgrounds location. [Tennessean]
  • 1/31 – Nashville submits its MLS application. The article includes a video submitted with the application. [WSMV 4 Nashville]
  • 2/1 – Lead investor Ingram meets with MLS executives for the first time in person on the application due date. [Tennessean]

Link with details of Nashville’s TV Market, ownership group, existing team, and more.


North Carolina Triangle (Raleigh/Durham/Cary)

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Raleigh, North Carolina

Summary: Charlotte isn’t the only show in North Carolina, and Steve Malik’s aggressive bid boasts 100% private funding. Brian Straus recently released his MLS expansion profile for the Triangle which is gospel on the topic. Malik submitted the Triangle’s MLS application on January 31st.
News & Resources: 

  • 1/27 – MLS expansion profile for Raleigh / Durham is released by Brian Straus. [SI]
  • 1/31 – Triangle ownership group, led by Steve Malik submits their MLS application. The article discusses the stadium plan which features a translucent roof. [News & Observer]

Link with details of the Triangle’s TV Market, ownership group, existing team, and more.


Sacramento

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Sacramento, California

Summary: Meg Whitman, HP CEO and Ebay founder, joins the Sacramento ownership group. Reports surfaced late on January 31st that the city’s existing USL team, Sacramento Republic FC, was left out of the MLS application submitted by Kevin Nagle. The outcry over the last minute omission is created a PR firestorm that looked bad for this city’s bid. MLS deputy commissioner Mark Abbott tried to downplay the severity of the situation and said that Nagle and Republic FC will continue to work toward an agreement. On 2/4, the parties announced an agreement whereby the Republic FC brand name will be used if the MLS bid is successful.
News & Resources: 

  • 1/27 – A brief articles discusses worries that San Diego’s MLS bid could leave Sacramento out of the picture. [ABC10 Sacramento]
  • 1/30 – Sacramento will submit its bid tomorrow and the organization believes they have an advantage based on the advanced state of their stadium plan. [Sacramento Business Journal]
  • 2/1 – Sacramento Republic FC issues a statement regarding the MLS application saying that if it was submitted without the inclusion of Republic FC, it was done “in violation of our agreements and without our authorization.”  [Sacramento Bee]
  • 2/1 – MLS deputy commissioner Mark Abbot downplays the conflict between Nagle and Republic FC. He says the league will allow discussions to continue and the two groups will attempt to resolve undisclosed “issues.” [Sacramento Business Journal]
  • 2/1 – Brian Straus gives his take on Sacramento’s ownership power struggle, including the Sacramento Mayor getting involved to help resolve the conflict. [SI]
  • 2/4 – With the help of Mayor Steinberg, Nagle and Smith reach a deal of “undisclosed” terms allowing the MLS bid to use the Sacramento Republic FC brand. [Sacramento Bee]

Link with details of the Sacramento’s TV Market, ownership group, existing team, and more.


Indianapolis

Note: Complete market details are included for Indianapolis in this article because they recently joined the expansion race.

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Indianapolis, Indiana

TV Market: Nielsen DMA #27
Existing Team: Indy Eleven – NASL
Venue: A proposed stadium with a cost of “over $100M” in downtown Indianapolis adjacent to Lucas Oil Stadium (NFL) funded with a private/public partnership
Money: Investment group led by Ersal Ozdemir (Indy Eleven and Keystone Realty Group)
Summary: Indianapolis joined the party last, announcing their entry on January 30th, one day before the application deadline. Ozdemir submitted the application on time, and they launched a website to promote the stadium in conjunction with the application. Website
Recent News & Resources: 

  • 1/30 – Brian Straus reports Indianapolis’ MLS bid. [SI]
  • 1/31 –Ozdemir submits the Indianapolis MLS application. The article discusses the proposed funding of the stadium and Indy Eleven’s previous challenges with public / private funding for the NASL team’s stadium. [Indy Star]
  • 2/3 – An article from the Business Journal provides more detail on the investment group. It discusses the bid’s urgency due to the rising costs of MLS and the league getting close to its maximum size. [Indianapolis Business Journal]

Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for the second set of six markets which will include Cincinnati.

UPDATE: The next article in this series has been release covering the remaining six markets.

Do you know of recent news or key facts about these MLS expansion contenders not mentioned above?  Let us know in the comments section.

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