FC Cincinnati – Match Report Vs. Minnesota United (07/05/2022)

FC Cincinnati managed to grab a last-minute winner against Minnesota United to continue their strong start to the MLS season. FC Cincinnati played quite a defensive 3-4-1-2 formation, mostly looking to hit Minnesota on the counter with direct passing. Minnesota played a 4-2-3-1 with their wingers playing a bit more narrowly as inside forwards. Though Minnesota controlled much of the play, their style did not match up very well against Cincinnati’s and they were only able to create a couple of big chances against the Ohio-based team. 

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher 
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher 
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level 
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level 
  • C – Average for level, re-watch 
  • D – Below average in this match

Brandon Vazquez

  • Nationality: American/Mexican
  • Age: 23
  • Date of Birth: 14/10/1998
  • Current Club: F.C Cincinnati 
  • Career: Club Tijuana (Y), Atlanta United II, Atlanta United
  • Position: Striker
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Brandon Vazquez scored the game’s only goal and generally did a good job of being a handful for opposing defenders. Cincinnati was often on the back foot so he spent a lot of time chasing lost causes but he created problems for Minnesota with his physicality and off-the-ball movement.

At 6’2 and 196 pounds, Vazquez is very large. He does a great job of using his body to shield the ball and push opposing defenders around. This means he is a very effective outlet, especially for a team that is under pressure because you can rely on him to hold on to the ball. He also dropped deeper to hold up the ball and link up with teammates. He was not splitting defences with his passing but he could be relied upon to create a bounce pass. Vazquez is also very fast relative to his size. He is not always leaving defenders in his dust necessarily but he is a threat to get on the end of a ball in behind the opposing defence and he created a few chances off of those in this game. Perhaps his greatest strength is his off-the-ball movement. Vazquez can make creative runs and make quick changes of direction to outwit defenders. His goal was a direct result of this.

But Vazquez is not the perfect player. His dribbling is not very good. He usually just tried to knock the ball past a player and bowl them over rather than try and beat them with footwork or feints. Because he is so big and strong it did work out for him once or twice but for the most part, when he was 1v1 with a defender he ended up being frustrated. His first touch was also a bit lacking at times. 

Rating: A1

Vazquez was a very productive player for Cincinnati when they were the worst team in the league and now that they look decent for the first time in years, Vazquez is hitting even higher heights. I think he would be a good signing for teams in top 5 leagues who expect to be in a relegation scrap because he has shown he can do it when he doesn’t have a lot of service and his physicality would be useful for scoring goals from set-pieces.

But where I think he would really shine is on a top team in a top 20 league in Europe. Put Vazquez on Celtic, Benfica, or Ajax and I believe he would get 20 goals per season. Because he has not played for the senior US national team yet, you might even be able to get him relatively cheaply. Transfermarkt lists his value as 500k which seems laughably low to me. If he actually can be had for that price then teams in Europe should be biting Cincinnati’s hand off to get him.  

Roman Celentano

  • Nationality: American 
  • Age: 21
  • Date of Birth: 14/09/2000
  • Current Club: F.C Cincinnati 
  • Career: University of Indiana Hoosiers, Chicago Sockers
  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • Preferred foot: Right

FC Cincinnati has mostly had terrible goalkeeping since the jump to MLS. It’s early days yet but they may have finally fixed that glaring issue with Roman Celentano. Celentano was making only his 4th MLS appearance and 6th as a professional. But despite his limited experience, he looked very calm.

Celentano had quite a few crosses to deal with and he did a good job of either punching the ball clear in a decisive fashion or holding on to the ball. When dealing with shots he did a good job of holding on to the ball and not parrying it back into danger where it was possible. I think the ability to neutralize the ball, and therefore prevent subsequent chances from that play, is a very important skill for a goalkeeper at a high level. For Celentano to look so confident so early in his career is a good sign for his long-term potential.

Celentano also showed some good shot-stopping ability. He made a fantastic save when Bongokuhle Hlongwane was in on goal, diving at the South African’s feet to block the ball. He also showed some good footwork to recover on a chipped attempt from Emanuel Reynoso. One area of the areas of weakness in his game, however, was his distribution. He showed a good ability to launch the ball a long way but he didn’t do very much to keep possession. If he was under any kind of pressure the ball was always getting launched up the field. He always got it clear definitively but it would be nice if he also could help his team maintain controlled possession when he was pressured. 

Rating: A2

Celentano is still very early in his career so staying in MLS for a year or two is probably what is best for his development. But if he keeps having performances like this then I think he can make the step to a higher league. 

Ian Murphy

  • Nationality: American
  • Age: 22
  • Date of Birth: 16/01/2000
  • Current club: FC Cincinnati 
  • Career: Duke University Blue Devils, F.C Golden State
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Ian Murphy is another player who has played relatively few professional games. In this match, he showed some good defensive positioning and awareness but the rest of his game was a bit lacking. Murphy was on the right side of a back three in this match. He did a good job of collecting balls that were played in behind Cincinnati’s wing-backs. In general, he was good at positioning himself to intercept passes. This included one instance where Minnesota had an odd-man rush in transition. But Murphy was perfectly positioned to intercept a through ball that would have created a huge chance for Minnesota.

But he looked horribly uncomfortable with the ball at his feet. Under any kind of pressure, he would launch the ball up the field, frequently causing Cincinnati to lose the ball. Even when he had some time, but a player was starting to close him down, he would launch a grenade of a ball up the field. Murphy was pretty sheltered in Cincinnati’s formation, so there were not many instances when he was defending 1v1. He seemed to do a good job of tracking opposition runs, in keeping with his strong defensive positioning, but in this particular match, the ball did not get played to the player he was tracking very often. This will definitely be something to watch for in future viewings. He did not step forward to make tackles, he mostly just held his position and mopped up loose balls. 

Rating: B2

Murphy has really good defensive positioning and, as he gains experience, that could be a very strong base to build an effective game off of. But He is 22 and the fact that his technical ability seemingly has such a long way to go probably means that being a good MLS player is the limit of his potential. 

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