Why the Open Cup Postponement helps FC Cincinnati
FC Cincinnati was due up to face Miami FC in the Quarter-Final match of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on July 12. However a pretty imposing tropical storm with plenty of lightning and rain came through Miami reducing the field quality to this:
So needless to say the game was not going to be played that night. It has been postponed to a further date which we now know is on August 2nd. However just before the game was first set to start some news came out that had fans worried.
Three of our four iron clad back line defensive-men, and one of our top forwards, were not in the line-up AT ALL. This was extremely troubling for many fans for one simple reason: in what is one of the most important games in franchise history, we were playing our best players. FCC has it's issues scoring and putting multiple goals in the net, but what it doesn't have issues with is it's supreme back line who posted shut-outs on the Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire. And it wasn't just one player out of the back line, but three, and that can really hurt a team.
According to Cincy Soccer Talk, here was the rumored lineup to start the game:
Certainly not a lineup to ignore, but also not FCC's best XI, with other notable misses being Stevenson, and Kenny Walker who supposedly never even made the trip down to Miami. Now no one is saying we couldn't have pulled out a win with this lineup, but on the road against a formidable opponent in Miami FC who has been riding high since winning their NASL Spring League, the fans expected something better.
This has been an ongoing issue for the past month or so since the Open Cup has kicked off. FCC played 11 games between May 27th and July 9th, with only 3-4 days off between most of them, and they've got 8 games in July alone. Luckily 5 of the 6 games in June were home matches, but nonetheless their schedule is insane. Alan Koch has had to put his men in so many games, the best XI simply cannot play every game. So he's faced with some hard decisions, like deciding which games are more important, which ones he can slide by with a less than stellar line up and which ones need the full frontal force. Or does he hold off guys to be super subs like the Fire game, bringing on three key players deep into the 2nd half of the game to add new energy.
None of this is new to Koch, but I'm sure he's having difficulty trying to balance all of it while still getting the best results. It's hard to tell where his head's at, but at the moment it feels like the Open Cup may be more of an after thought for him, instead focusing energy on the USL league and running up the table for a playoff run. It's hard to argue after seeing that purported lineup that Koch was willing to throw everything at this game. And while it wasn't in front of 30,000 people and against a big time opponent like the Crew or Fire, this tournament game means just as much if not more. The fans showed up in Miami in the hundreds and were ready for a good game and to advance to take on yet another MLS squad. To treat this Cup run as anything but critical is a mistake. FCC may never find themselves in this position again, and they should take hold of it.
But that's why this postponement helps FCC incredibly. They get more time to rest guys and can perhaps throw out a better lineup come game time. It's unclear if the XI has to remain the same from the XI written down on July 12, and if previously unavailable players like Delbridge, Berry, Hoyte, and Wiedemen can be used in the game or if they must stay unavailable. But if the full squad is open to selection (aside from the most recent signings who are ineligible) FCC is poised to played a much better line up with their full back line healthy and ready to play. This also puts a stunt in Miami FC's momentum who are riding high after beating Orlando City, Atlanta United, and coming out on top of their NASL league. Putting as much space between playing us and that incredible run only helps FCC.
So it remains to be seen when the game takes place and who can play in it, but FCC only benefits from this postponement allowing them to get healthy and ready for an incredibly big match.