With FC Cincinnati’s star striker Fanendo Adi unavailable for the foreseeable future, the club is in desperate need of a reliable attacking option. Adi was recently suspended by the league and there’s no indication of a possible window to return.
As FC Cincinnati constructed the roster for its inaugural MLS campaign, the attacking department has consistently been the lowest in depth by options, as Alan Koch and company lean heavily on versatility and attacking responsibility is shared with the midfield staff.
The reality is that through six games FC Cincinnati has scored eight goals with eight different players. While there have certainly been opportunities, nobody on the club has been able to earn a second goal yet this season.
Of the eight goal-scorers, Darren Mattocks is looking like the best option to step into the center forward role. He came to the club as a perceived speedy backup to Adi, but for better or worse, the season has gifted him with the opportunity to stake his claim to the lead striker role.
Mattocks scored the club’s first-ever goal from penalty on Sunday in the 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City. A good start to what will likely be an extended run of starts for the Jamaican.
“I’m never worried about scoring goals. I know the goals are going to come, just got to be a little bit more consistent. Not just me, the team total,” Mattocks said. “When we get chances, especially home games like this, you have to put them away.”
Perhaps a nod to the shared attacking responsibility, the key will be consistency and it has to come from somewhere.
“It’s interesting. Expansion teams, everyone has done it in different ways,” Alan Koch said. “There are some teams that have come out and they literally go on and spend millions and millions and millions of dollars right out the gate. Also in this business, when you spend significant dollars, that gives you a slightly higher chance of being successful.
“I think that we have more of a sound approach to how we are trying to build something,” Koch said. “We literally are building something. We’re building a training ground, we’re building a stadium, we’re trying to build a team. I think our systematic approach is probably, in my opinion, the most realistic and responsible way of trying to build a team.”
“So, unfortunately, or fortunately, the rollercoaster will continue”
With the handmade approach, Mattocks has an opportunity to step up and emerge as option A in the attacking department by ability, rather than out of necessity. He’s a league veteran with stints in Vancouver, Portland, and most recently, D.C. United where his starting minutes disappeared after Wayne Rooney came in.
He joined D.C. United from Portland as compensation for an international roster spot and went unprotected in the expansion draft, and was selected by FC Cincinnati.
With so many in his past passing on him, Mattocks should be playing with a chip on his shoulder and looking to make the most of the increased responsibility.