Ahead of FC Cincinnati’s match Saturday night at LAFC – the current MLS league leaders – we’ve created a roundtable with local beat reporters who cover the club regularly.
This week’s roundtable includes:
· Pat Brennan, The Cincinnati Enquirer
· Jeff Wallner, Cincy Soccer Talk
LAFC have the league’s two leading scorers. What does FCC need to do to keep them quiet?
Brennan: I asked Kendall Waston what the key was for Vancouver Whitecaps when they want to LAFC and drew, 2-2. He said it was all about staying organized and controlling their fair share of the midfield in order to keep LAFC honest. If FC Cincinnati’s starting goalkeeper can make a spectacular save or two, that could be the difference between narrow defeat and stealing a point at Banc of California Stadium.
Pfahler: Obviously the defense will have their hands full with Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi so they are going to need to stay compact and can’t afford to have the missed tackles in dangerous spots we’ve seen in recent weeks. However, I think the biggest thing that could make a difference is improved play in the midfield. If the midfield can be more effective in possession and defensively force some turnovers, that could be key in keeping LAFC’s offense at least somewhat contained. I actually would hope to see a performance like against Atlanta, where guys like Allan Cruz were all over the place on defense and FCC was able to limit chances for Josef Martinez. Do the same against LAFC and maybe Vela and Rossi don’t get as many opportunities.
Wallner: This is the type of match FCC spent most of the offseason building its roster for. With the backline fully healthy, it's time to prove Seattle was just first-game jitters. FCC is one of the better teams in MLS in taking the ball away. Any hope of staying in this match lies in the midfield and keeping the ball off the toe of LA's attacking players in good positions. LAFC leaves themselves open for the counter.
Score prediction and why?
Brennan: 2-0 to LAFC. That team is firing on all cylinders at the moment and while I think FC Cincinnati is improved on a weekly basis, I don’t think they’ve progressed to the point where you can reasonably expect them get a result at a venue where LAFC’s only last once since it opened in April 2018 (12-1-7 record in league play over two seasons).
Pfahler: LAFC 2-0. This is just a tough road game and FCC is most likely going to have to sit back and defend for much of the game. At some point, they are going to break. I would be more confident if FCC had a lot of attacking options but right now they don’t.
Wallner: No repeat of Seattle would be another sign of progress for Koch's club. Maybe they can steal a goal on the counter attack but LAFC is simply too good. FCC loses but brings home some confidence, 2-1.
You can also follow them on Twitter here:
Pat Brennan @PBrennanENQ
Laurel Pfahler @LaurelPfahler
Jeff Wallner @JeffWallner