What to make of FC Cincinnati?
After a blip against Seattle to start the season, Alan Koch has his side organized and forging an identity. In the last five matches, FCC has given up just four goals and has been dangerous on the counter. Cincinnati uses a combination of athleticism and speed to get at opponents and they're getting contributions from the entire squad - FCC's eight goals this season have been scored by eight different players.
Undoubtedly, they've exceeded expectations. Six matches into their inaugural season, they've collected a very respectable eight points. What's even more impressive is they've managed to hold their own with the likes of Atlanta United, Portland Timbers, and Sporting KC so far.
But now they're making their first trip to Banc of California Stadium, where even the seasoned sides struggle.
Here are the Toyota Keys to the Match between LAFC and FC Cincinnati:
Respect FC Cincinnati's Speed
When you play a high line like LAFC, you always have to be wary of how teams look to exploit the space in behind. One of the best ways being the use of pace.
FC Cincinnati boasts its share of speedy attackers that can make teams pay. But that doesn't necessarily mean LAFC should drop it's line deeper.
Pressure on the ball, especially after turnovers, will be paramount to keeping FCC from springing its attackers behind the LAFC line. Tyler Miller will need to be in constant communication with his backline and also available to help cover some of the space in certain instances.
Make FCC Center Backs Defend
Kendall Waston and Nick Hagglund are both capable center backs. And in certain situations, they can make life miserable for attackers.
They aren't the most mobile though.
LAFC will need to find ways to lure either of the two away from the FCC goal. The best way to do that is by finding space and combinations just in front of the pairing. Make either of those two vacate space by having to step to you. If Waston and Hagglund are able to stay together and no wider than the width of their own goal, it's going to be a long day for LAFC.
Ramp Up The Pressure
FC Cincinnati has played in front of some big crowds this season. But nothing prepares you for the atmosphere inside Banc of California Stadium.
Coming off consecutive away matches, you can guarantee it's going to be loud from the opening whistle. LAFC should look to take advantage of that energy, putting pressure on FCC from kickoff.
We know that goalkeepers and defenders have trouble communicating when the crowd is going at the Banc. The Black & Gold should look to use that to their advantage early and not allow FCC to garner any semblance of confidence in the match.