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FCC Falls Flat

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Is it already time to panic in the Queen City? FC Cincinnati had an inauspicious beginning to their 2022 season after being demolished by Austin FC 0 - 5 Saturday night.

Things started poorly for FC Cincinnati after Austin FC scored within the match’s first two minutes off a miscue on a set piece. Before too long, another defensive mishap allowed Austin FC team captain Alex Ring to bounce an awkward ball over the head of Cincinnati goalkeeper Alec Kann. The score was already 0 - 2 and fifteen minutes hadn’t run off the clock.

The scoring deluge continued for Austin FC as their home crowd went wild. Even Matthew McConaughey got in on the action, as the part-owner of Austin FC spurred on the team with a set of bongo drums while decked out in green Austin FC gear. It was a party in Austin, and FCC was only invited to be laughed at by the cool kids.

Despite the unsettling loss, FCC still has 33 games remaining on their schedule, plenty of time to work out some of these defensive kinks. After the game, new head coach Pat Noonan spoke about his message to the team, saying, “The message to the team is, you know, we’re not all of a sudden a really bad team because of the score line. The score hurts, there’s no question about that, and that should motivate us going into our home opener.”

All true. I’m not sure there’s a better wake-up call in soccer than being drubbed 0 - 5 in your first game of the season. Hopefully now that FCC is fully awake and prepared to play competitive soccer, we won’t have any more lopsided results like we did Saturday.

It’s important to mention, however, that FCC isn’t quite at full strength. Last year, the club added Brenner Souza da Silva, a precocious Brazilian striker for a cool $13 million transfer-fee. The 22-year old, who led FCC in goals last season with eight, is still attempting to acquire a green card which would clear an international roster spot for the club.

"The conversations have changed about the return date, so it’s out of our control,” said coach Noonan last Thursday. “We would all like him here tomorrow. I don’t know when it’s going to be. Those conversations are ongoing. The challenge is for when he does return, how quickly can we get him up to speed physically with his fitness and certainly with the messaging ... We’re just gonna have to play the waiting game.”

Brenner is FCC’s designated player, which means his salary does not count against the club’s salary cap. The designated player rule, otherwise known as the David Beckham Rule, gives MLS teams the ability to compete for international players who would normally be too expensive. Once he returns, Brenner will give FCC a serious jolt of technical skill and finishing ability.

At the same time, Brenner doesn’t really solve the team’s defensive issues. Goalkeeper Alec Kann wasn’t great on Saturday, but he was under siege the entire game. Blown assignments and poor positioning routinely thwarted any FCC defensive resistance. Unless Brenner can score six goals per game, this might still be a lost season for the Orange and Blue.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this loss is that FCC is in a fantastic position to grow their fanbase in Cincinnati, especially with the Cincinnati Reds and the MLB officially missing regular season games as of 5:00 p.m. today. Instead, Cincinnatians are staring at a summer with little or no (please let this not be the case) baseball and a soccer team that can’t stop a nosebleed.

It’s still early, though. FCC takes on D.C United this Saturday at TQL Stadium. This is still a young squad with a new coach. It’s going to take some time for the pieces to jell. Still, they’d better start jelling soon. Otherwise, FCC could be staring at another lost season.

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