Orlando City will face off against FC Cincinnati tonight at 7:30 at TQL Stadium. This will be the second meeting between the two clubs this MLS season after the Lions took a difficult 2-1 home loss to Cincinnati early this year. Let’s take a deep dive into the strengths and weaknesses of FC Cincinnati.
The Orange and Blue have performed much better offensively than in years past, currently ranking tied for ninth in MLS in goals scored this season (22). Much of the reason for this increase in offensive performance has been due to the relatively high number of scoring opportunities that Cincinnati has obtained as the team ranks eighth in shots taken (195). Their accuracy when taking advantage of these scoring situations has been slightly worse, however they have still shown growth as the Orange and Blue are tied for 10th in on-target scoring opportunities (67) and they are tied for 15th in shooting percentage (34.4%). It is also worth noting that Cincinnati has the fourth-highest number of assists in MLS (27), which displays even further the offensive growth of this club, as it had a total of 32 assists all of last season.
Defensively, Cincinnati has struggled to limit scoring chances from the opposition, ranking tied for seventh in most shots against (75), which is one of the reasons that Cincinnati is tied for sixth in most goals against (26) this season. Another reason for the relative lack of defensive success is due to the inconsistent play in the goalkeeper position, as starts have been essentially cut in half between Roman Celentano (8) and Alec Kann (7) through 15 matches. This has caused Cincinnati to be in the bottom half of MLS in save percentage at 18th (64.9%) in this category. Otherwise, the Cincinnati defense has actually held relatively strong, ranking in the top 10 in MLS in the following categories: second in blocks (271), third in tackles (316), and tied for 10th in clearances (312).
Players to Watch
Forward Brandon Vazquez has been the main offensive contributor for Cincinnati to start the season. Vazquez is first among the Orange and Blue in goals (8), total scoring attempts (37), and on-target scoring attempts (15) which is good enough to rank third among regular starters in shooting percentage (40.5%). Another important player to this much-improved Cincinnati offense has been midfielder Luciano Acosta. He is second among Cincinnati players in goals (5), but his contributions are much more noticeable in the way that he has distributed the ball to others for scoring opportunities. The midfielder currently leads the club in assists (6), crosses (16), and accurate forward zone passes (343), which have all played an important part in setting up the attack for guys like Vazquez and others to take advantage.
Defender Nick Hagglund has been the main contributor to the Orange and Blue’s defensive efforts. Hagglund is first in interceptions (24) and first among regular starters in duel percentage (65.3%). The Cincinnati defense has also found help from Acosta, who has been proficient in one-on-one scenarios, as he has a team-leading 207 duels won this season. Goalkeeping duties have been split this year with Celentano having the slight edge in starts. Celentano has been the better keeper so far, with 12 goals against, 27 saves, and a save percentage of 69.2%. However, Kann has not been too far behind Celentano, conceding 14 goals and making 21 saves, which has given him a save percentage of 60%. The main difference between Celentano and Kann this year can be seen in win percentage as Celentano has been clearly better at 50% — compared to 28.6% for Kann. However, it is worth noting that there are many factors to win percentage and goalkeepers are not solely responsible for the outcome of games they start.
This is what I found on the Lions’ next opponent. Let me know what you think about the upcoming match against Cincinnati in the comments and as always, go Orlando!