After charging right through the ranks of the United Soccer League from 2016-2018, making the playoffs two years in a row, FC Cincinnati (FCC) has been more than disappointing since its promotion into Major League Soccer (MLS).
This is no secret, and FCC is close to missing out on the MLS playoffs again in 2020, despite an expanded playoff field due to the COVID-19 pandemic's effects on the season.
Although the Lions just won their first "Hell is Real" rivalry matchup in the MLS against the Columbus Crew, the upset win will mean little if FCC can't put an amazing stretch of games together.
One might argue that having no fans at Nippert Stadium to provide the usually charged atmosphere could be a significant factor in the disappointing results. However, FCC has been struggling in the MLS long before COVID-19 protocols were put in place. Not to mention that FCC had an unordinary stretch of away games for much of the season post-MLS is Back Tournament.
The problems? Too many to cover for one opinion article, but there are some bigger than others. For one, let's start with the fruitless attack. FCC has scored the fewest amount of MLS goals this season (10), while 18 out of the 22 remaining teams have scored twice as much, if not far more.
That statistic alone screams disaster, coupled with the fact that they have allowed the third-highest amount of goals in the Eastern Conference (28). One of the season's biggest let-downs has most definitely been striker Jurgen Locadia, who is on loan from Premier League club Brighton Hove & Albion.
Locadia has taken the most shots on the team this season (40), but only 10 of them have been on target. Worse yet, the Netherlands native has only churned out a single goal out of all those attempts.
Yuya Kubo has been somewhat of a refreshing new presence this season, bringing some much-needed energy to the attacking front, but the Japanese international can't do it on his own. That brings us to the second biggest problem, lack of chemistry and creativity.
When you watch FCC play on the pitch, much of the time, the team merely looks uninspired, as if they're okay with losing. There's little aggressiveness from the midfield, and their attempts at getting the ball up the field have been lackluster at best.
It was the exact opposite during the club's time in the USL. Provide the midfielders who want the ball and take care of it instead of those who send half-witted balls straight to the opposition's defenders.
FCC will be playing in a $250,000,000 West End stadium next season, but do the results on the pitch seem worthy of such a price tag? No amount of dedicated fans or cosmetic money can. Fix the team before you "fix" the pitch.
FC Cincinnati's next game is against D.C. United on Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Nippert Stadium. The broadcast will be available to watch on TV-Star.