US Open Cup Roundtable: How FC Cincinnati should line their starting XI

Without Djiby Fall out for the semifinal in Nippert, FC Cincinnati and Alan Koch must strategize on how they want to attack yet another MLS team. The New York Red Bulls, who will be FCC's opponent on the 15th, currently sit at 4th in the MLS's Eastern Conference. They went through DC United and the New England Revolution while FC Cincinnati overcame the Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, Louisville City FC, and AFC Cleveland.

Both teams will be ready as a huge crowd is expected in Nippert. How FCC starts this game will be crucial and the personnel they put on the field to start will be of utmost importance. For that reason, we went to a roundtable and asked our writers how each of them would line up FCC against New York.

Shamus Staubach (@shamusstaubach) 3-5-2

I went with what I feel like is our strongest lineup but also gives us the ability to bring in a couple of substitutions that are proven to give us a lot of energy/an immediate boost (McLaughlin & Wiedeman). Jimmy may be my favorite player so it hurts a little leave him out of the starting 11 but there's just something about the energy level in Nippert when you see him report to the centerline and we've seen that already in the Chicago game. Same kind of feel for Wiedeman- he comes in and immediately makes an impact. Leaves us one more sub which would likely be in the midfield (Dacres or Nicholson for Bahner?).  I could see that third substitution hinging upon what the score is/how the match is playing out. Nicholson gives us more of a defensive presence than Dacres. The subs will definitely be game-time decisions, and Koch has proven to be brilliant with who and when he brings them in.

Jacob Clary (@JacobClary25) 3-5-2

This lineup gives Cincinnati a stellar, and reliable, back line that Mitch Hildebrandt will be able to trust. De Wit showed a lot of promise in the match against Miami FC, and I expect him to get the start again here. The midfield, with Justin Hoyte and Kyle Schindler on the wings, show a lot of pace and are able to send the ball in very well. The inside midfielders, especially Kenny Walker, have been playing great soccer lately, and I don't see why Alan Koch will change much in that regard. At the top, FC Cincinnati will need a lot of energy, and Jimmy McLaughlin and Danni Konig are those two players for the club. I see Jimmy playing more of a forward/midfield type, and Konig playing the typical Djiby role with a bit more pace. This lineup gives the club lots to work with on offense, and a brick wall on defense. 

Matthew Beighle (@matthewbeighle) 3-4-4

I'm going to play a 3-4-3. First of all, Alan Koch is notorious for playing three forward sets when Djiby seems finds his way out of a lineup. Unfortunately, our number one goal scorer and USL Golden Boot chase is out with an accumulation of three yellow cards (don't even get me started on that flawed process). Let's start all the way at the back, obviously, I'm going to put Hildebrandt in the goal, he has four clean sheets in four starts in the US Open Cup so far. Next my back three - Hoyte, Delbridge, and Berry - I chose to stay with three backs instead of four because the NY Red Bulls don't seem to have that strong of an attack sitting with a goal differential of just 6. Also, these three have seemed to cement themselves as Koch's wall in his starting XI for the past games. My four in the midfield are (left to right) Josu, Bone, Walker, and Bahner. I elected to keep out Wiedeman, Quinn, and Nicholson as they might be some great sub choices. This is a strong midfield with plenty of speed on the side with Josu and Bahner as well as a core that can instinctively play both sides of the field. On top of that, Bone has the highest passing accuracy on the team at 86%. My top three are where I really start to get excited - McLaughlin, Konig, and Schindler. You can not get a more perfect combination of raw speed, power, and agility than you can with these three. McLaughlin is one of the best set up men we have behind K. Walker and A. Wiedeman, but Jimmy is undoubtedly the fastest player on the pitch when he steps on. König is on a tear scoring in 3 out of the last 3 FC Cincinnati league matches, when this post was written. Combine that with the sheer body and size of 6'3" 174lb German forward Kevin Schindler and you have perfection even without Djiby. 

Ryan Taulbee (@R_Taulbee) 3-4-4

If you notice this is almost identical to the lineup we had against the Fire, except with all the subs from that game put in. I still think those last 30 minutes or so was some of the best soccer FCC has played. While McLaughlin has been a powerful super-sub in most of our U.S. Open Cup games, I'd like to see him get the start along with Wiedeman so the team can get off to a fast start. As opposed to sitting and defending for the first half, we need to attack and dominate the field and hopefully go into the locker room with some goals in hand. Our backline is solid rock, and I think with this lineup FCC has the caliber to take down New York. Obviously, Hildebrandt will be in the goal, and the midfield should also be a rock with Quinn Bone, Josu, and Bahner. Walker, who has come on as a sub before, will not get the start, but he should get some action as the midfield will tire quickly in what should be a fast paced matchup.

Josh Cagle (@TheREALFancyJ) 3-5-2

Mitch Hildebrandt is in goal for obvious reasons. Berry, Delbridge, and Hoyte have been our most solid back line all season, and I really like playing a back three so we can stack the midfield. Hoyte and Berry are good moving up the pitch when they need to attack and Delbridge is always a threat on corner kick situations as well. In midfield, I like Kenney Walker in a defensive-mid position. One of the best tacklers in the squad and can also play a stellar pass when he needs to. For the two more central midfielders, I like Quinn and Bone. Both pretty similar players and can take over a game with their short passing on a good night. Neither has scored too much this season but they definitely have goals in them. On the wings I like Schindler and Josu. Normally in formation with four back, I would put Josu in a wing back position, but when he's played in a wide attacking role this season, he's excelled. Great pace and really knows how to whip a cross in. Schindler is much of the same except as an all-out attacker. I was tempted to put him at striker but I thought his play on the wing against Miami was superb. Constantly found space and put the crosses in. Only a matter of time before he starts knocking them in the net. Finally, the strikers. Since Djiby is out I had to go with König and Jimmy McLaughlin. König has been our most solid goal scoring threat next to Djiby all season so he's an obvious choice. I had trouble deciding if I liked Schindler or Jimmy at striker but I decided on Jimmy just based on the goals he's scored in the past and his great pace. If he can take his chances I think he'll compliment König up top pretty well. 

Cole Hutchins (@HutchinsCole) 4-5-1

For goal keeper, obviously, Mitch is the answer. For the back four, I chose Josu and Delbridge for outside backs as they are consistent and they play well. I like Berry in the back so I put him at center. It might not be his usual position, but he is an anchor for the backline. Hoyte usually starts at center back, and I feel he is the best out of what we have. Polak and Walker are strong in the midfield, I chose Bahner as defensive mid. Bone and Walker haven't played too well together recently, so I figured to switch it up and possibly bring Bone in as a sub. I chose Jimmy, of course, along with Wiedeman as they consistently are dangerous on the wings. And then Konig up top because he can finish the chances that Jimmy and Wiede make on the breaks, hopefully!

Go ahead! Leave a comment with your starting XI for the biggest game in club history.