ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (October 18, 2017) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ Eastern Conference Quarterfinal against FC Cincinnati is now just a few days away with preparations in full swing for the Rowdies’ first playoff game since 2012.
Yesterday, we took a look at the formations FC Cincinnati is most likely to use and recapped the Rowdies’ 1-1 draw in Cincinnati on April 19 in the first part of our scouting report. Today, we’ll take a look at the first names on FC Cincinnati’s team sheet and the Rowdies’ 2-0 win over Cincinnati at Al Lang Stadium on July 6.
The Rowdies and FC Cincinnati have a fairly similar distribution of minutes, with six Rowdies playing more than 2,000 minutes in USL league play and seven players reaching that number for Cincinnati. Head Coach Alan Koch has a larger squad at his disposal, with 30 players receiving minutes this season, compared to 24 for Tampa Bay.
Goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt has played all but one match this season and leads the USL in saves with 100. FC Cincinnati’s first-choice center back pairing of Harrison Delbridge and Austin Berry are likely to feature in St. Pete with one of Sem De Wit, Justin Hoyte or Paul Nicholson likeliest to slot in as the third center back if Cincinnati uses three at the back.
Corben Bone and Kenney Walker are the heart of Cincinnati’s midfield, with Matt Bahner and Josu playing in the wing back roles of a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3.
Cincinnati’s attack is fairly fluid, with Jimmy McLaughlin and Andrew playing in off the wings if Cincinnati uses three forwards. Djiby Fall and Danni König have rotated as the primary options at center forward, with Kyle Greig also getting a handful of starts there.
Fall started the season in brilliant form, scoring six goals in his first four matches, including a four-goal performance against Saint Louis FC on April 15, but he has cooled off considerably, scoring just six more goals for the rest of the USL season. König was acquired from OKC Energy FC early in the season as another option for when Fall wasn’t in rhythm. König has 11 goals to his name this season and both forwards must be respected.
Against the Rowdies on July 6, FC Cincinnati started in a 3-4-3 formation with König leading the line, flanked by Andrew Wiedeman on the left and Kadeem Dacres on the right. Down two goals at halftime, Koch abandoned the formation and switched to a 4-4-2 at halftime with Fall coming in as a halftime substitute to partner with König.
Both teams’ formations are below.
Zac Portillos made his first start of the USL season in this match. He's started all but one since then.
FC Cincinnati started in a 3-4-3, but changed to a 4-4-2 at halftime facing a two-goal deficit. Djiby Fall came off the bench at halftime.
Compared to the stats from the 1-1 draw on April 19, which the Rowdies seemingly dominated, the stats on July 6 showed a much more even contest despite Tampa Bay’s two-goal victory.
FC Cincinnati had the narrowest edge on possession with 50.1 percent and the Rowdies’ passing advantage was thin as well, with 436 for Tampa Bay and 430 for Cincinnati. Passing accuracy was similarly close, with FC Cincinnati at 79.5 percent and the Rowdies just 0.4 percent lower at 79.1.
Where the match was won was in shooting accuracy. Both teams tallied 13 shots in the match, but the Rowdies put 11 on target and scored twice, compared to only five shots on target for Cincinnati. Martin Paterson and Joe Cole scored the Rowdies' goals late in the first half before the match was disrupted by a lengthy weather delay.
Tampa Bay goalkeeper Matt Pickens put in a great performance to make five saves and keep a clean sheet, but if not for a spectacular nine saves from Mitch Hildebrandt, Cincinnati may have been on the wrong end of an even more lopsided loss.
Highlights from the match are below.