The first match of Chris Albright’s reign as FC Cincinnati’s General Manager sung a familiar tune for the Orange and Blue, who usually rack up similar or better statistics than the opponent, endure moments of ineptitude at a few critical junctures, and lose the match. Such was the case last Saturday night at TQL Stadium. FC Cincinnati equaled Philadelphia in shots on goal (six), were far more accurate with their passes (83-67 percent) and out-possessed the visitors 63-37 percent.
And yet the Union pounced on the openings ceded to them by FCC, first taking advantage of a failed clearance and poor defending to score the game’s initial goal in first half stoppage time. Then extremely poor marking allowed Paxten Aaronson a free header for the decisive goal in what would be a 2-1 scoreline. FC Cincinnati’s losing streak has now reached six games, its last victory a 2-0 triumph vs. Toronto over a month ago, its first and only victory at TQL Stadium.
Sadly, this is not Cincinnati’s longest winless streak of the year, as its aforementioned victory over Toronto snapped a 12-match winless drought that included seven draws. The Orange and Blue aren’t even managing draws as the 2021 season hits its final stretch. FCC (20 points, last in the Eastern Conference) has just six contests remaining, beginning with Saturday night’s tilt vs. Orlando City (42 points, fourth in the East).
One can’t fault interim head coach Tyrone Marshall for trying to mix things up. The match against Philly marked his third game in charge, and for the third game in a row Marshall trotted out a different starting XI. Tyler Blackett has now started two games in a row at center back, with veteran Geoff Cameron garnering a rest over the weekend. Edgar Castillo started in place of Ronald Mataritta at left back, with the latter on international duty with Costa Rica. (Mataritta will have a short trip back to Cincinnati; the U.S. hosts Costa Rica tonight in Columbus in an important World Cup qualifying match for both countries.) Alvaro Barreal was back in the lineup after a rare non-start in the 1-0 loss to New York Red Bulls on October 2. Right back Zico Bailey made just his third start of the season.
With Albright aboard, everyone involved with FC Cincinnati’s on-field product is being evaluated before the final regular-season match on November 7. Marshall, previously an assistant coach with Real Salt Lake, is highly unlikely to be back as head coach, though it’s certainly possible he will return to his position as coach of FCC’s under-19 team and future U-23 outfit. Per Albright, MLS experience is a “non-negotiable prerequisite” for Cincinnati’s next head coach, so seeing the head coaching vacancy filled before the season ends is unlikely.
And, of course, there are ample players fighting for their futures with FC Cincinnati—and, in the case of some, perhaps their MLS careers. It will be difficult for Albright to shift certain players off the team just because it’s much harder to clean house in MLS than in other major American pro sports leagues, but at minimum a roster shake-up of sorts is on the horizon as Albright remakes FCC.
FC Cincinnati haven’t quit on their new coach and showed plenty of life in its first match in front of the new General Manager. This Saturday should bring more squad rotation. We’ll find out if Marshall can find the right mix to end the club’s latest ignominious streak.
Grant Freking writes FC Cincinnati coverage for Cincinnati Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at @GrantFreking.