Is it time to worry about FC Cincinnati?

Vazquez and Barreal, we miss you so
FC Cincinnati v Chicago Fire FC
FC Cincinnati v Chicago Fire FC / Michael Miller/ISI Photos/GettyImages

We are 8 games in to the MLS Regular Season for FC Cincinnati, and they have recorded 8 goals. It is time to worry about FCC?

It might be an overreaction, but being extinguished by Montreal 2-1 on Saturday night for a second straight loss has the fanbase asking lots of questions. Like, is this a playoff team? Can we get Lucho Acosta some help? Is it time to move on from Boupendza?

It is completely reasonable that FC would miss the contributions of Alvaro Barreal and Brandon Vazquez this season. Both players have moved on to different clubs in different countries and excelled. FCC fans got an up close look at Vazquez at this new club Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions Cup. Despite bringing in new offensive players like Corey Baird and Pavel Bucha, it appears FC Cincy might need more reinforcements. Many had thought that Aaron Boupendza might step up in the absence of Vazquez, but despite having a great pre-season, he has not lived up to the billing. With only 2 goals and 2.1 xG (expected goals) in 8 games in the MLS, Boup has far been from effective to say the least. Add in all the issues that come along with Boupendza, it wouldn’t be surprising that FCC move on from him.

Tactical Adjustments coming?

Pat Noonan’s favorite system of play is usually a 5-3-2. This system has 5 defenders but the outside players are usually wing-backs that get very involved in the attack (the position Barreal excelled in last season to help him earn and All-Star honor). FCC has replaced the departing Yerson Mosquera with MLS stalwart Miles Robinson and added Luca Orellano and DeAndre Yedlin to provide the energy and guile needed to play in the wing-back role. And through 8 MLS Season games, the defense has been solid but the xAG (expected Assisted Goals) for Orellano is 1.4 and Yedlin is 1.0. Which has not been enough. Is it time for a tactical change? The 5-3-2 system has only produced 8 goals in 8 games and the offense has not been producing quality chances to think that more goals are coming in the future.

Stay the course?

The 2024 MLS Regular season is still young as we are only in the month of April and there are plenty of more matches ahead, not to mention the MLS Cup Playoffs. FC Cincinnati is not known particularly for starting the season quickly in the colder months of March and April. For reference, FCC had only 10 goals in their first 8 matches in the 2023 MLS Regular season (including a bad 5-1 loss to St Louis).

The tweet above demonstrates that FCC has some work to do beyond just putting the ball in the back of the net. Leading the league in offside might indicate a lack of discipline, or being out of sync with the team’s patterns of play. Either way, it is not the category in which you want to lead the league. Even though it might not be as be as exciting as the 2023 Regular Season, FC fans should remain patient because Pat Noonan is still in charge and Lucho Acosta is still the captain. And with those two, FC Cincinnati can still go far.