2019 was the year that FC Cincinnati joined MLS, and that is the most positive thing I can say to sum up the season. That’s a slight exaggeration, but only slight because the Orange and Blue were literally setup to fail from day one. They traded away GAM and TAM instead of using it strategically for salaries, expansion draft picks were wasted on aging players, and Alan Koch had a strange obsession with signing defensive midfielders as if he was trying to corner the brick market in Catan. After the last whistle, FC Cincinnati finished the year in last place with a record of 6-22-6 and set new league record for most goals conceded in a season (75) and worst goal differential (-44).
On the fantasy side, FC Cincinnati’s inability to generate a consistent offensive threat often resulted in their defensive players generating some bonus points, but those points were often offset by negative penalties for conceded goals. The best use for FCC players in 2019 was to fill your bench spots with cheap players who would not play. Overall, FCC was the team to bet against when you were looking for easy points or if you just needed a cheap starter as a differential.
Fast forward to 2020 and things seem to be moving in a different direction as FC Cincinnati is rebuilding everything from the ground up. New head coach Ron Jans and new general manager Gerard Nijkamp joined the team late in 2019 and have been working hard during the offseason to make up for the mistakes of 2019. Will they succeed or will FCC remain as a team to pick against in Fantasy? We’ll just have to wait and see but at lease it looks like the front office is willing to spend some money on players this season.
OK, so we didn’t need to wait very long before problems hit FCC again. Coach Jans is out and the Orange and Blue have once again turned to Yoann Damet to serve as interim. Will a new head coach be named before the season starts? No. But if you’re interested in seeing some of the options, you can read more about that here.
Tactics & Key Players
There is no real point in looking to 2019 for tactical expectations in 2020. Desperation was the theme and we saw many different formations and player combinations. My expectations based on interviews with Coach Jans are that the focusing is on improving the quality of the midfield so that FCC can improve possession and have an option to distribute and play through the middle. He’s also shored up the backline with a true experienced defensive midfielder. This leads me to think that a typical formation will be some version of a 4-3-3 with the potential to shift into a 5-2-3 or 4-2-4 when needed.
Goalkeeper: No changes here. Przemyslaw Tyton finished the year and is likely to keep the starting spot when the season kicks off. Spencer Richey is still the number two and will be called upon if Tyton struggles again at the start of the season.
Defenders: No change to the starters from the end of last season. Garza on the left wing, Waston and van der Werff in the middle and Deplagne on the right wing. However, FCC’s backups have been improved. Saad Abdul-Salaam was picked up through the re-entry draft and will be a capable backup wing back and Tom Pettersson was acquired from Swedish side Ostersunds FK. Of these two, Pettersson has the higher fantasy value because as a left-footed center back not only will he be able to challenge Waston for starting spot, but he’ll be available when Waston INEVETABLEY gets a red card or too many yellows. He may even challenge for a starting spot.
Midfielders: Now this is where we start to see come change. There has been a mass exit including Victor Ulloa, Leonardo Bertone, and fan favorites Corben Bone and Emmanuel Ledesma. In their place we’ve gained Haris Medunjanin (a true quality defensive midfielder) and Moroccan attacker Adrien Regattin. Both have great potential value for the team and for fantasy managers. Medunjanin is the know commodity as an incredibly consistent point producer and Regattin will be an offensive threat on the wing. Medunjanin will also be key to slowing things down in the middle and looking for distribution opportunities. The newest addition is Dutch attacking midfielder Siem de Jong who is likely to jump into the first team once his visa is cleared.
Forwards: More big changes at this position and more potential for fantasy points. Fanendo Adi is gone and has been replaced by DPs Yuya Kubo adn Jurgen Locadia. Both players are proven goal scorers and will be day one starters with Kubo potentially taking up a false 9 spot while Locadia take the center forward position.
In a rebuilding year, every change is notable, but the most notable this year are all the offensive players who have been brought in because that was a skill that FCC was definitely lacking in 2019. Though, there is also a good argument that the most notable change is the loss of Chach Jans. If FCC is not able to settle into a style at the start of the season, it could be another rough year.
Fantasy wise, FCC is a giant “If”.
IF FC Cincinnati can improve its midfield possession and offensive chance generation, that should relieve the pressure on their defense enough to improve their overall goal differential. This will make them a team that is still worth betting against in Fantasy when they play the top tier teams, but not when playing teams in the mid-tier. IF the new offensive additions can develop chemistry and consistency, they could become good differential targets. IF Greg Garza stay healthy, he should earn more points. Finally, IF they are not at the bottom of the table in October, this will be a successful season.
But for the start of the season, Pass.