After a hot start to the season that saw them going 2-1-1 over the first four matches league newcomer, FC Cincinnati is finally feeling the crush of the MLS meatgrinder having gone winless in their last six matches. The San Jose Earthquakes, on the other hand, seem to have found their groove under new manager Matias Almeyda having gone undefeated in their last three matches including on the road in Seattle and Dallas. It is no secret that good teams should beat bad teams most of the time and on Saturday the Quakes have a chance to prove to the league that they are one of the most improved teams of the season by beating a new team that is really struggling to find their rhythm. Let’s take a look at what the Quakes may be up against.
Manager: Alan Koch
Formation: 4-2-2-2 Double 6
Richey started the season on the bench but was given the starting position in week 2 after Cincinnati was hammered 4-1 by the Seattle Sounders opening weekend and initially did an excellent job. With Richey in goal, Cincinnati went undefeated in their next three matches while only allowing one goal in that timeframe since then it has been a different story. In their next four matches, Richey allowed eight goals forcing Kock to call on week one starter Przemyslaw Tyton for their match against NYRB a game in which Cincinnati only allowed one goal but was kept off the scoresheet themselves. Richey was back in net on Wednesday against the Philadelphia Union and gave up two more goals as Cincinnati was shut out for the fourth match in a row.
Mathieu Deplange, Nick Hagglund, Kendall Waston
When a team is giving up goals and losing matches it is easy to blame the goalkeeper or defense but sometimes the rest of the squad isn’t picking up the slack leaving the backline to absorb most of the attack, and this looks like what is happening in Cincinnati right now. This can be especially dangerous if the defenders have not played together before as is the case with the three Cincy defenders. Waston has made a name for himself as one the better defenders in the league but Hagglund was never an everyday player at Toronto FC and Deplange has only played in 10 MLS matches. This group has had to endure 97 shots in the last six matches with 30 of those shots on target! It is a miracle that this team has found a way to keep their goal differential at -8.
Roland Lamah, Victor Ulloa, Leonardo Bertone, Allan Cruz
All I want from this part of the lineup is for Fatai Alashe to play. I thought he had more upside but was put in a lousy position and never allowed to flourish. I wish I had a better breakdown but this being a new MLS franchise and all I was lucky enough to get accurate lineups for previous Cincinnati matches. I can literally find out the field goal percentage of NFL kickers when the weather is below a certain temperature even if they played indoors but trying to find out the passing percentage for first-year MLS midfielders is more complicated. Seriously just play Fatai.
Darren Mattocks, Kenny Saif
FC Cincinnati’s leading goalscorer has one goal, and that title is shared amongst eight players. That’s right, no player has multiple goals even after a quarter of the MLS season is over. Combine that with the onslaught that the defense has faced so far, and you can see how this can quickly turn into a long inaugural season in Cincy. It’s not easy to judge a team after they have only played ten games in their league history, but this Cincinnati squad is playing like newcomers they are. If the Quakes can continue what they have been doing for the last several weeks, they have a chance to make this a statement game and let the rest of the league know that this is not going to be the same old Quakes that has to scrap it out for last minute wins.