The First 5 Games, In Context
The First 5 Games, In Context
As we look at the season thus far, there are many moments that may lead you to believe that our season is in shambles. A few of these moments are, starting off the season with a 4-1 loss to Seattle, Tyton, our starting keeper getting injured, Adi getting injured, and most recently, Adi’s OVI. Being only 5 matches in and having some of these headlines would make any supporter sweat a little. Even with these mishaps, I will discuss why it has been a rather successful season thus far.
Let’s start off with discussing the infamous first three matches of the season. When the schedule was first announced, we took our first three scheduled matches as a sort of “initiation” into Major League Soccer (MLS). Our first match was against the Seattle Sounders who finished the regular season 2nd in the Western Conference. Though we lost 4-1, we saw signs of potential. Bertone showed his maturity and ability to lead the time, while scoring FC Cincinnati’s (FCC) first MLS goal. In our second match, we played the reigning champions, Atlanta United. With a 1-1 tie, not only did we leave Atlanta with a new sense of confidence, but we also saw potential in Garza, Saief, and Richey. In our third and first home match in MLS, we played the runner ups of the 2018 MLS cup, the Portland Timbers. With a 3-0 win in front of a sold-out crowd, we were feeling pretty confident about this season. Not only did we win handedly, we saw the team truly play as one.
Leading up to our next match against the New England Revolution, we found many of our veteran starters missing due to international friendlies. Though we started two players from last seasons USL squad Emmanuel Ledesma and Forrest Lasso, we managed to win that match 2-0. Riding a three-match unbeaten streak and feeling pretty good about the season, we hosted the Philadelphia Union but fell to them 2-0 during a monsoon.
Overall, the team is playing together. Even with various lineups that Koch has put out on the field, it seems that each match (disregard the Union match) FCC plays more confidently. I should note that we have had seven goals thus far and each goal has come from a different player. Yes, it would be nice to have a true attacking forward we could rely on to score a goal every other game but in our inaugural season, I will take goals however we can get them.
With Tyton’s injury, many supporters were unsure how Spencer Richey would handle the starting role. What we have found is that he is more than qualified to take it on from here on out. Prior to the match against Philadelphia, Richey had two shutouts and only conceded one goal against MLS’s record goal scorer, Josef Martinez. Along the lines of injuries, we have also lost Fanendo Adi without word on how long he will be out or how serious the injury is. As you know, Adi was recently sited for an OVI while traveling over 100 mph. At this point, we are unsure what will come of that but with how the team has been playing, no one is eager for a speedy return from Adi.
I have discussed how the team has done thus far and I think we can all agree that the season is going swimmingly. I am not sure many expected FCC to be sitting at 5th in the Eastern Conference five matches in but here they are. Another positive to bring up is the community engagement with the team. The support the team received in its inaugural home match at Nippert was a beautiful site to see. 32,250 supporters packed into Nippert to cheer on FCC and many were standing much of the match and even during a monsoon, FCC was able to attract over 20,000 against the Philadelphia Union. The last thing I want to do is bring up attendance, but it truly is exciting to note that we are currently ranked 3rd in MLS attendance through week 5.
There is no doubt that this season will continue to be a rollercoaster ride for the rest of the season. As an expansion side with almost a completely new roster, there will be growing pains. What I hope is that we continue learning from each match and playing with confidence. From what I have seen, the players seem to be getting along and committing to making FCC something special in MLS. What we can control, as supporters, is just that… supporting our team and we hope that Berding and Koch can handle the rest (or just continue allowing Luke Sassano to make most of the decisions).
Our next match is this Sunday in Nippert at 3:00 PM against a Sporting KC club that is coming off a 7-1 win over the Montreal Impact. FCC has their work cut out for them, but the team has surprised us more than once this season. I hope to see a rowdy crowd come Sunday and don’t forget to wear orange!