Nobody within FC Cincinnati expected its first MLS season to be easy. Simultaneously it’s likely that nobody outside of the organization expected the club to be sitting in fifth place heading into Week 7, as preparations are underway for Saturday’s date with Los Angeles Football Club at Banc of California Stadium.
Sustaining a winning or even line is a tall order for the expansion side. Simply put, LAFC is red-hot right now. With a 5-1-0, 16 point line, thus far nobody has provided FC Cincinnati with a reference point on how exactly you go about beating this club.
“We know going to LAFC is a huge challenge. They’re flying right now, so it’s not going to be an easy game of course. We definitely go in as the underdogs and I think we’ll gladly embrace that role all year long. We know it’s going to be a big challenge, FC Cincinnati head coach Alan Koch said.
“We have to focus on managing the moments. I know we preach that all the time, you could see it in the game on Sunday. Managing the moments is what allowed us to go up, not managing a moment is what allowed them to score a goal.
The margins for error in this league are very slim and you go play a team like LAFC in their place, we have to get everything right to set ourselves up for success.”
There’s no denying that managing the moments will be difficult, especially when you look at the season LAFC’s Carlos Vela is having. Through six games, his seven goals are good for tops in the league, and his four assists land him in second on the league leader list.
Managing moments against the MVP candidate will be a task, but the shape and organization of LAFC is also an exhausting attribute to consider.
So far, LAFC is averaging 53% possession, with a whopping 19 goals for and only five conceded.
FC Cincinnati is averaging just 43% possession in its matches so far, eight goals for and eight goals against.
In fact, FC Cincinnati has yet to out-possess any of its MLS opponents this season, even in its wins against Portland and New England. The bright spots offensively have come on the counter and while the club has shown the ability to create chaos with its wing play, FCC, for the most part, is still very much a work in progress and based on the lack of on-ball sustainability.
In order to be the first team that defeats LAFC, FC Cincinnati will likely need to show a different look. With respect to Koch’s remark about embracing the underdog mentality, FC Cincinnati has mostly managed to rise to the occasion against playoff sides. Taking points off Atlanta and Kansas City, while beating Portland shows that the club isn’t going to be shell-shocked heading into LAFC.
The reality is though, LAFC is the first playoff-caliber club FCC has bumped into that is in a sustained run of good form and its star player is shining.