Even while losing to CF Montreal, FC Cincinnati continues to fly out of the MLS cellar in the Eastern Conference. Opponent Montreal has had a worse season.
Still, Montreal found a way to exploit the Cincinnati defensive zone.
FC Cincinnati has improved their supporters’ experience this season by focusing on their attack to the point of obsession. Their go-to formation commits only three players as defenders. That pushes an extraordinary responsibility onto goalkeeper Alec Kann and, for most of this young MLS season, he has met the challenge.
The match with Montreal is one that Cincinnati could win, at least on paper. But before the match, Montreal looked at the team’s performance in their first contests and exploited their game plan.
FC Cincinnati lost 4-3 to CF Montreal, but there’s hope they can creep into the MLS post-season.
The Canadian side isn’t good enough this season to exploit any team’s game plan all the way to a blow-out. But on April 2, they exploited FC’s unbalanced defense just enough to keep their opponents winning.
As for basic statistics, Montreal only beat Cincinnati in duels won – 54-39 – as well as18-7 clearances and 18-8 aerials. But even with an own-goal by Montreal midfielder Alistair Johnston, the team got through for a 4-3 win.
The players up front for Cincinnati performed solidly as usual. It was the defensive players who slipped just enough for an advantage to Montreal.
And Cincinnati has not yet developed a way to adjust to what they faced from this opponent.
Montreal forward Kei Kamara had close to a career game. Midfielder Djordje Mihailovic, playing as a forward, also had a stellar performance. All three forwards, including Joaquin Torres, scored.
A quick scan of the box makes the game look closer than it is.
But because of Kamara’s execution and other players who performed close to him, the outcome was hardly in doubt – even during the five-minute stoppage time ending the second half.
Kamara carried out two dribbles and won seven of the aerials. He dispossessed opponents three times.
Mhailovic and Torres combined for another two aerials. All three forwards got themselves into the right place at exactly the right second to send four shots into the Cincinnati net.
CF Montreal won’t have another game like this for the rest of the season. It’s like a lightning strike.
As for Cincinnati, game analysts will say their failure to make in-game adjustments was fatal. But sticking with this scheme, they’ve turned their franchise history around.
FC Cincinnati at this time has no other game plan than the single scheme that’s got them two wins, six points, and out of the cellar.
This season, sticking with that one scheme, they will be the best they’ve ever been.