Maybe you've heard (...from our writing, no less) that FC Cincinnati has had trouble scoring goals recently. In fact, they haven't scored from open play since prior to facing the Union at the end of March. 

However, the Expected Goals tells a different story. Cincy is 11th in the league in xG over the past four games, and they have hit the woodwork six times in their past three matches. They are 10th in the league in Big Chances Created with 2.5 chances per game.

They generate good chances each match that they don't finish. That’s a dangerous team that could break out at any time.

On the defensive end, Cincy seems to lose focus in the middle of the match -- since facing the Union they have given up all but one goal -- a 93rd minute see-ya-later to Carlos Vela -- between the 32nd and 62nd minutes. Look for the Union to turn up the intensity on the MLS newcomers during that middle half-hour at home. A compact press should disrupt a defense that isn't too sure-footed on the ball, and then it's just up to the Union to win the transition moments once Cincy lumps the ball forward or loses it in buildup. 

Shape of Ohio

Expect a 4-4-2 out of FC Cincinnati, but the question is how they'll adjust that once they have the ball. With Fanendo Adi available again, this is a team that could morph into a 4-3-3 going forward by using Kekuta Manneh as a winger. Recent lineups have favored Roland Lamah and Allan Cruz out wide and that's about as versatile as FCC can get up front. Both players can be creative or get into the box, but to make them effective Cincy needs a bit more control of matches because they only have Leonardo Bertone to create from deep. 

Ostensibly, Cincinnati has creativity out wide from fullback Greg Garza. The former Atlanta United left back has missed the past three games, though, and in his absence Mathieu Deplagne -- and, against Red Bull, Justin Hoyte -- haven't provided the same level of contribution in the final third. Deplagne can get forward, he just doesn't have great vision once he's there. Hoyte plays a more conservative role and pushes Deplagne to the right where he's far less assured. 

Union attack

The big question for Philly is how to break through against a FC Cincinnati side that sat back to absorb pressure last time these teams faced off. Jim Curtin could stick with Kacper Przybylko if he wants someone to bang bodies with a very large Cincy side in the box. However, that's a risky game since it could play into the visitors' hands. 

Instead, Curtin may try to pull Cincinnati out by using the movement of Brenden Aaronson and Jamiro Monteiro to disrupt defensive lines when the opponent is set up while hoping that David Accam and Fafa Picault can offer a threat in behind any time the visitors push forward. It's worth nothing that Sergio Santos is off the injury report and should be available for this match if Curtin wants to throw on some late-game energy. 

What to Watch For

  1. Who starts up front for the Union? That should tell you a lot about how the home side is going to try and attack Cincinnati. 
  2. Who starts on the wings for FCC? That will give an indication of how risky Cincy's gameplan will be. If Manneh is played wide with two strikers up front, that's an attacking lineup on the road. 
  3. Who starts at the No. 10 for Philly? Jim Curtin used Jamiro Monteiro to press the first ball out of the back against Montreal -- the quick midfielder stuck near Samuel Piette. This could work against Bertone as well so Curtin may be tempted to put his best presser on the counter-starter on Wednesday night. 

Make sure you're there to see how it unfolds on Wednesday night -- tickets are available here.