The Top Eleven: FC Cincinnati's best lineup for Tampa Bay Rowdies playoff match

Photo taken by Jamie Smed-Twitter

FC Cincinnati is about to play their playoff game against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. FC Cincinnati will be have to play much better than they did against Toronto FC II. The lineup Coach Alan Koch uses will be key to effecting the Rowdies on both offense and defense. The Rowdies are very good at the counter-attack, which makes it important to have a competent backline in this game. That is why a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3 would work best in this game. The 4-4-2, or 4-3-3, formation would allow the midfield to have good control without too much congestion in the middle by other well as help the defense not rely too much on having to wait for the midfield to track back. 
At goalkeeper, Mitch Hildebrandt is the definitive starter. Hildebrandt hasn’t had as good of a year as last year, but he is still a top keeper in the USL. He is the leader in saves in all the  USL, with 100 saves. For comparison, the Rowdies goalkeeper, Matt Pickens, only has 68. Hildebrandt also has 7 clean sheets, 11 if you count the U.S. Open Cup. Hildebrandt is a keeper that can be relied upon, and has shown that he can play when it matters most, just look at the Chicago Fire match.
Defensively, FC Cincinnati isn’t terrible, but they could be playing much better. Hildebrandt has been left out to dry too many times, and he can’t stop everything. Because of the 4-4-2, the four defensemen that will be playing in this match need to be able to communicate very well. Harrison Delbridge and Austin Berry are definite starters. There’s no question about that. Delbridge is one of the top 2 or 3 players on the team, and performs at a top level every game. Berry is the captain, and also plays well. Delbridge and Berry should play on the inside of the defense. In the Toronto FC II match, they played on the inside, and 3 goals were conceded. Polak and Hoyte should be on the outside. Both of them are very good at moving up when needed to and can cross the ball very well.
The key to FC Cincinnati playing well is whether or not Kenney Walker is in the lineup. In the match prior to Toronto FC II against Ottawa Fury FC, Kenney Walker didn’t play due to a card accumulation. The team wasn’t able to score at all, losing 4-0. In the Toronto FC II match, we won 4-3 and Walker had 1 goal and 2 assists. Walker’s presence on the field changes everything for the club. Walker’s vision in the midfield and the box is amazing. Corben Bone should be opposite of Walker in the 4-4-2. Bone and Walker have very good chemistry with each other, and can easily move the ball through the midfield. The two outside midfielders should be Josu on the left, and Andrew Wiedeman on the right. Josu is one of the best players on the team at crossing the ball into the box, and having him on the left side would be great at getting the ball where it needs to be. Wiedeman is one of the team’s best shooters, and having him in the game early could sway the momentum on the field to the orange and blue.
The choice for the forward position is between Jimmy McLaughlin, Danni Konig and Djiby. McLaughlin should definitely be a starter. Similar to Walker in the midfield, the team is much better in their attack when he is on the field. He should play a hybrid forward/midfield position, staying up top, but more centralized in the midfield instead of at the top of the Rowdies’ defense. The last position in the lineup is between Djiby and Konig. I think at the start of the game, Djiby should always be the choice. He is steady and confident attacker, and has the chance to score at any part of the field. He is the leading scorer on the team, with 12 goals in USL play. Konig would be a great substitution on the latter part of the match. His great pace and speed would be great for getting the club to have more energy at the end of the match.
Overall, the club may be the underdog in this matchup, but they have the talent to win it. Their offense is capable of scoring on any team in the league, and their defense can hold off many scorers. Don’t look now, but it could be FC Disneyland all over again. 


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