Match Recap: FC Cincinnati 0 - LAFC 2
Saturday, April 13, 2019
Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles, CA
FC Cincinnati (2-2-2) vs. Los Angeles Football Club (5-0-1)
It could have been worse.
FC Cincinnati's 2-0 loss on Saturday night to unbeaten LAFC was, for the most part, encouraging.
The Orange & Blue managed to hold the hottest team in MLS to just two goals, and for much of the game threatened to pull off another miracle draw. The defense had one of its most solid performances against the best offense in the league to this point.
Going into the weekend, LAFC had 19 goals, 8 clear of the next highest total. In their previous two matches, LAFC blanked a struggling San Jose team 5-0, then a week later dismantled previously unbeaten DC United 4-0. That 9-0 stretch was reason enough to the temper expectations of the FC Cincinnati faithful.
LAFC's first goal on Saturday night versus FCC came in the 32' off a Carlos Vela corner kick that arced down perfectly for an exquisite header by LAFC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye, who managed to redirect the shot across his body into the bottom left side of the goal.
Until Vela's equally jaw-dropping goal in the 93', Cincinnati managed to hold the LAFC attack at bay in the course of regular play. No team has managed to hold LAFC to less than two goals so far in 2019, so the late goal by MVP front-runner Vela was slightly disappointing, but not entirely surprising.
In the end, the story of FC Cincinnati's offense was once again missed opportunities, although it was encouraging to see that Alan Koch's side wasn't going to be content to just park the bus and grind out a snoozer. They made a number of effective counters, and the interplay of Mattocks, Saief, and Manneh continues to show promise.
Justin Hoyte (still open) made his MLS debut, and Caleb Stanko made his first start, and both looked solid. As expected, Frankie Amaya subbed into the game in the 83' and continued to look extremely confident on the ball. Darren Mattocks created more than his share of chances with quickness, hustle, and supreme ball control.
Mattocks' most promising moment came in the 47' off of a hustle steal he poked away from LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman to the feet of Kenny Saief. Saief fed the ball right back to Mattocks, who juked around Zimmerman and fired a shot on goal. It took a spectacular leaping save to his left by LAFC goalkeeper, Tyler Miller, to put the kibosh on FC Cincinnati's best chance at an equalizer.
At this early point in the season, it looks like some of the most difficult games for Cincinnati are now behind them. They've already played the best two teams in the league to date in Seattle and LAFC, and (probably) won't see them again in 2019. They went through an early gauntlet and have managed 8 points in those 7 games. All in all, not bad. The team appears to be performing slightly above average, and with all the chances they create, it feels like a scoring streak might be on the horizon.
On paper, the next stretch of 7 games for Cincinnati look a lot more manageable for the expansion side. Even though only three of those 7 will be at home, there appears to be a strong potential that they could find their groove against some struggling competition.
Next up is a Friday night matchup versus Real Salt Lake at Nippert. Seemingly with one eye on the upcoming short week of preparation after a long weekend of West Coast travel, minutes for Roland Lamah, Alan Cruz and Victor Ulloa were managed. All three players are crucial to Cincinnati's transition game, as most of the team's counters start or go through those three players.
FC Cincinnati continues to scrap and put up moral victories, and is punching slightly above their weight so far, and that has kept them in contention for a mid-table, maybe-possibly playoff run in their inaugural season. The goals need to start coming soon, though. Goals ultimately lead to points, and those missed opportunities will start to add up the further into the season they get.
It's not going to be all downhill from here, but FC Cincinnati have come out on the other end of a rough road in relatively decent shape. The next seven games could define the true identity of this inaugural squad.
FC Cincinnati Starting Lineup (4-3-2-1):
Spencer Richey (G), Justin Hoyte (D), Nick Hagglund (D), Kendall Waston (D), Mathieu Deplagne (D), Caleb Stanko (M) Leonardo Bertone (M), Allan Cruz (M), Kenny Saief (M), Kekuta Manneh (M), Darren Mattocks (F) Substitutes: Roland Lamah 66’, Victor Ulloa 76’, Frankie Amaya 83’
LAFC Starting Lineup (4-3-3):
Tyler Miller (G), Steven Beitashour (D), Walker Zimmerman (D), Eddie Segura (D), Jordan Harvey (D), Mark-Anthony Kaye (M), Eduard Atuesta (M), Latif Blessing (M), Carlos Vela (F), Christian Ramirez (F), Diego Rossi (F) Substitutes: Josh Pérez 66’, Danilo Silva 86’
Mark-Anthony Kaye 32’
Carlos Vela 93’