It’s that time of year again - when the resident FC Cincinnati fan on The Miami Student staff is allowed to write an article about his favorite team (and greatest source of personal misery, as befits all good favorite teams), with the ever-present excuse being “the MLS is starting!” Well, it’s already started, and we can begin to draw broad, unreasonable conclusions from these small sample sizes.
Last year, I was recklessly optimistic:
“There’s plenty to be hopeful about on the pitch as well … have provided real hope for a dynamic attacking presence … shore up a defense which saw signs of improvement last season from their worst-in-history 2019 performance.”
But FC Cincinnati ended the 2021 season as the worst team in the league (for a third consecutive year, the first team in MLS history to achieve that feat) and with the second-most goals conceded in league history, behind the 2019 FC Cincinnati team.
But this time, dear reader, the optimism isn’t reckless.
(It’s not reckless, right? Please don’t tell me it is. I can’t be wrong about this team four years in a row.)
The Bailey, the stadium’s supporters section, has finally found its voice in the new TQL Stadium. It consistently provides one of the best atmospheres in the league. The team, strengthened by sensible, economical signings after the appointment of former Philadelphia Union assistant technical director Chris Albright as General Manager, has shown massive signs of improvement from last season. Alongside the hiring of Albright’s Union colleague Pat Noonan as head coach, the club has already achieved two of the four wins required to match last season’s total by defeating Orlando City on the road in the third match of the season and Inter Miami at home in the fourth.
The underlying stats support this improvement as well.
Expected goals (xG) is a statistic approximately meant to show how many goals a team is expected to score in a match, based off of the location, angle and difficulty of their shots – a shot from the ground close to the goal will have a higher xG, while an acrobatic attempt or one from a narrow angle will have a lower one.
FC Cincinnati, at the time of writing, is 3rd in MLS in xG – attackers are getting into dangerous positions on a frequent basis, regardless of how many goals are actually scored. The more dangerous chances a team gets, the more they’re going to score over an extended period of time – so even if results are mediocre or poor (as they are now – FC Cincinnati sits 11th in the Eastern Conference) over the balance of the season, the results should roughly match what’s being put on the field.
With this team? In this city? Who knows what’s actually going to happen?
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