Top 5 Current Transfer Stories

Alexis Sanchez leaving Arsenal

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Alexis Sanchez,who has yet to sign an extension and would be free to go next summer (Image:Getty Images)

Alexis Sanchez is on the last year of his current contract and there has still been no announcement of him signing an extension. This means even thou Arsenal has started preseason with him in the squad if no contract is signed they will be forced to sell the player or face the fear he leaves on a free transfer next summer(which Arsenal will never let happen). Currently Manchester City and Bayern Munich are looking for the Chilean signature and if Alexis Sanchez doesn’t sign a contract it  might just force Arsenal to sell there main man. While Arsenal will demand a lot of money for the Chilean, teams know the situation and low ball their offers. Sanchez score 24 goals and gave 10 assists for the Gunners last season. What also adds stress to the situation is Arsenal missed out on Champions League Football and it would be very hard to find a proper replacement for the Chilean. They may have the money but Emirates Stadium is not that attractive without Champions League Football. It is essential for Arsenal to try to keep Alexis.

To understand how essential it is for Arsenal I posted a link HERE of Sanchez highlights last season.

Ivan Perisic To Manchester United

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Inter Milan are asking £50 million for Perisic. Who scored 11 and had 8 assist last season.(Image: Getty Images)

This transfer negotiation has been going on back and worth for a while now. The sides are supposedly only £9 million apart with pricing. Ivan Perisic is coming off one of his most productive season with Inter Milan netting 11 goals and creating eight assists, dominating the left-wing. The Croatian is a quick player who is also big and great in the air, things that are usually needed to succeed in the physical English premier league. Manchester United look to bring in the player to bolster their attack, which only scored 53 goals last season. Perisic’s play style also fits the Mourinho classic counter attack style and fits well with United latest signing Romelu LukaKu. From the Inter Milan point of view their isn’t much to do except try to get a much as you can for him. Inter want to keep Perisic but he his trying to force the move and its never smart to try to keep a player if they want to leave.

Highlights explaining his £50 million price can be seen HERE.

Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid or Arsenal

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Where will he be “the main man” next season? (Image: REUTERS)

The Mbappe saga has been the longest of the summer since it started before the summer had arrived. Kylian Mbappe broke into the scene last season as an 18-year-old earning his spot in Monaco’s starting XI. With that spot he became the best player on the side scoring 15 and totaling eight assists in Ligue 1 and netting six goals in Champions League play. He led the team that won the French league and reached the Semifinal of the biggest tournament in Europe at such a young age. It is no wonder why the 18-year-old kid is rumored to be going for the biggest transfer fee in history, or close to it. Real Madrid seem to be the front-runners but they still haven’t sold Alvaro Morata to make the money and clear the space for French International to come. Arsenal on the other hand can’t offer him Champions League play, a tournament he would be able to participate if he doesn’t move. No deal is close, leaving Monaco worried it all might come down to the deadline. Monaco is trying to convince the youngster to stay one more year in the French league before moving to one of the big teams in Europe.This would give Monaco more time to get the right deal. Ultimately Mbappe has said to press he wants to play for Madrid and it is only a matter of time until the Spanish giants get the financial and squad space together.

Highlights of the wunderkind can be seen HERE.

Nelson Semedo to Barcelona

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After missing out on Bellerin,Semedo has become Barcelona’s main right back target (Image: NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Barcelona has been desperate in their look for a right back. Most of last season they played with Sergi Roberto at the position, a natural midfield player. Their long transfer target for the position. Hector Bellerin, has officially ruled out the move and Barcelona in recent weeks have changed their focus to the Portuguese international Nelson Semedo. The 23-year-old right back started 31 of the 34 games for the Portuguese champions, Benfica, and created seven assists coming from the back. Semedo also has great passing and dribbling skills which goes hand in hand with Barcelona’s system. The negotiations have been slow but expect them to speed up quickly now that it’s official Bellerin is not coming and preseason is starting.

Highlight of the player you might be seeing in every Classico next season HERE

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Chelsea

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the last proven striker left in the market, Where will he land? (Image:Getty Images)

Chelsea is desperate to get a world-class striker into the building after missing out on Romelu lukaku and telling Diego Costa he is not wanted. They don’t have a proven goal scoring threat up top. While Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang is not the greatest fit to Antonio Conte’s style, the other strikers Chelsea are looking at are to overpriced. Morata and Andrea Belotti are more ideal targets for Conte but both are priced slightly lower than Aubameyang and are not as proven. The Gabon striker scored 31 goals in 32 appearances and Borussia Dortmund seem to want to cash in on the striker. Chelsea made an 70 million offer for the forward late Thursday night and negotiations are starting to begin. Aubemeyang has become Chelsea’s main target for the position. If the Costa situation isn’t resolved then don’t be surprised if the Blues go a spend as much as they can on Aubameyang, as he really is the last proven world-class striker left in the market.

HERE are highlights of all the goals Aubameyang scored in this year’s Bundesliga.

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Romelu Lukaku to United, what now?

Lukaku chooses Manchester over Chelsea

Manchester United completed the £75 million signing of Romelu Lukaku yesterday, beating out Chelsea who were rumored to sign the player all summer. The 24-year old Belgium International comes to United on a five-year deal reuniting with his former boss, Jose Mourinho.

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Mourinho coaching Lukaku back in 2013(Photo by GETTY IMAGES)

To many people, the move comes off as a surprise. Many believed the big Belgian was on his way back to the Stamford Bridge and to join last year’s champions. Antonio Conte had denounced Diego Costa in the news and sold Chelsea’s young prospect Dominic Solanke to Liverpool, in order to create room in the squad for the striker.

The transfer would have followed Chelsea’s recent trend of repurchasing players they had sold. The main examples of this being David Luiz and Nemanja Matic, who were both instrumental in Chelsea getting the title. Moves like those lead many to believe Lukaku would continue the trend, but it turns out the allure of playing for the champs and his former home just wasn’t enough. Manchester United, at the last moment, hijacked the deal by offering more than Chelsea and when the Blues matched the offer it was too late.

Another element that makes the move interesting is it was Jose Mourinho himself who sold the striker from Chelsea to Everton back in July 2014. So ultimately Lukaku ended up picking the manager who quit on him before over Conte, who was the one cutting people from the roster to make room for him.

Comments on the move

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Mourinho happy with the signing (Image: Matthew Peters)

Jose Mourinho, who was delighted with the move and said, “Romelu is a natural fit for Manchester United. He is a big personality and a big player,”

“He will be a great addition to the group. I am really looking forward to working with him again.”

Lukaku, when explaining his surprising decision said, “When Manchester United and Jose Mourinho come knocking at the door, it is an opportunity of a lifetime and one that I could not turn down.”

Morata’s overpricing pushed United to make Lukaku move

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Morata’s price pushed United to Lukaku (Photo: Getty Images)

Ultimately the signing of Lukaku was not United’s first choice for replacing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but the team grew increasingly frustrated in chase of Alvaro Morata. Real Madrid would make ridiculous counteroffers every time the Red Devils made a bid, to the point Morata would have cost more than Lukaku.

So United made the focus change and swept up a more productive and proven striker. It might turn out that not signing Morata and ending up with Lukaku was the better move. When you compare the two strikers it’s almost hard to believe Morata is rumored in the same price range. Romelu Lukaku has 168 senior first-team goals, a month after turning 24 meanwhile Alvaro Morata has only 67 senior first-team goals, 8 months after turning 24.

The next step now for United is to keep securing the spine of the team. The two summer signing so far have helped but now the key is finding someone that can sit next to Paul Pogba in the middle.With the main target being Eric Dier from Tottenham. Spurs will probably be reluctant to sell the player but that hasn’t stopped United before.

Everton and Chelsea dealing with the aftermath

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Rooney returns to his boyhood club (Image@waynerooney / Twitter)

As for the other team involved in the transfer, Everton will have to replace Lukaku. Which is easier said than done. The Belgian scored 40% of the Toffees goals last year and most of the team game-play revolved around him on the pitch. So no matter who they signed you will see a new Everton going into next season.

However, Everton is not waiting to get talent into the squad having already done nine transfers. Including bringing Wayne Rooney from United alongside one the most promising prospects in Sandro Ramirez. This two striker as of now will have the huge responsibility of replacing Lukaku’s goals or Everton will be taking a step back next season.

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After losing out on Lukaku Chelsea might need to make Costa happy (Image: Getty Images)

The other team this deal affects is Chelsea who are now left in the hunt for a new striker with preseason right around the corner. The champions will have to act quickly to get a forward because as of now it looks like they only have one in Michy Batshuayi, who only scored five goals last season. That is nowhere near what is needed to win a title.

Missing on Lukaku might mean trying to reconcile with Diego Costa, who at the beginning of the summer was told he was not needed. The Blues have to act fast and get a world-class striker or they might struggle to defend the title without a pure striker. Without one they will have to change the way they played from last year. Many reports are now coming out that they want the former Manchester United target Morata, Chelsea will have to make a decision overpay for a striker that is their second choice or try to make things work with Costa. Either option is not ideal but keep an eye on what Chelsea does in the coming days.

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Cincinnati Pushes Past Richmond 2-0

FC Cincinnati beat the Richmond Kickers 2-0 on a warm evening in front of 21,769. An early goal from Djiby Fall and a late converted penalty by Aodhan Quinn led Cincinnati to victory.

Tonight’s win moves Cincinnati up to sixth place with 24 points (6-6-6) and three points behind the Tampa Bay Rowdies for the fourth position and a home playoff match.

Djiby scored in the third minute after an incredible ball from Kenny Williams that landed perfectly in front of the box. Djiby just set his feet and fired it past the keeper. A straight red card in the 87’ from Richmond’s Fred Owusu Sekyre after he threw an elbow into the face of Aodhan Quinn gave Cincinnati a man advantage. Then a stoppage time penalty due to a handball gave Quinn the opportunity to put Cincinnati up by two and ice the match.

Coach Koch commented on the match, “Great result for us, I was very happy with the performance. Scary game because when you are on top as much as were today, a lot of the time it takes one moment and before you know it you slipped up.”

Cincinnati completely dominated from the kickoff through the halftime whistle. Djiby put a corner just over the bar in the second minute and then gave his team the lead in the third.

After the goal Cincinnati controlled the ball for long periods of time and kept Richmond’s chances to a minimum. Their best chance of the first half came from a free kick from Raul Gonzalez from 23 yards out but the shot hit the wall and was cleared successfully by Cincinnati.

Jimmy McLaughlin had a fantastic chance after a good long ball from Paul Nicholson sent McLaughlin into the box where the shot was directly at the keeper. Unfortunately for Jimmy he went near post, if he goes far post Andrew Wiedeman could potentially have tapped it home.

Djiby almost got his second of the night hitting the crossbar with a thunderous shot but he was ruled offside late in the first.

The second half started with much of the same from Cincinnati, absolute domination with chances being saved or just wide. McLaughlin put a curler on target that took a diving save from Richmond’s keeper Matt Turner.

Wiedeman put a shot on target but again right a Turner in the 52. Another good pass over the top of the defense pass from Walker set up the chance.

A few more good shots were taken from McLaughlin but like the rest there was no getting him a goal.

Then Cincinnati’s wheels fell off for an eight minute stretch when the ball was kept in their defensive third with a few shots coming dangerously close to going in after deflections. A handful of fouls allowed free kicks that were in dangerous areas luckily the Richmond shooters put them either into the wall or crossed poorly allowing half clearances to somewhat reset the defense.

Cincinnati was still shaky late bringing Wiedeman off for midfielder Quinn who had an almost immediate impact due to drawing the red card from Owusu Sekyere. Quinn was playing Owusu Sekyere physically in the midfield, fouling him at the center circle and as Owusu Sekyere he threw an elbow at Quinn’s face drawing a straight red from the official who was feet away from the incident.

After the red Cincinnati was able to salt away the time and got to ball into the Richmond box where a hard shot from Danni Konig was saved by the keeper, but redirected directly into the arm of Braeden Troyer for a penalty. Quinn stepped up and buried the penalty, but Konig was ruled to be in the box too early and it had to be retaken. Quinn then stepped back up and fired into the opposite corner of the net to seal the three points for Cincinnati.

News and Notes

Cincinnati has played 13 matches in 53 days due to their US Open Cup run. Coach Koch was very adamant to bring this up during the postgame press conference. He commented on this run being, “I’ve never been though that before, I’d somebody to tell me someone who has. To show the endurance and character our group showed to get through this is nothing short of remarkable.”

Djiby scored his ninth league goal tonight in 12 appearances. Bringing him to 12 across all competitions in 15 appearances continuing his impressive run of form.

Jimmy McLaughlin can’t buy a goal right now having great chances but he hasn’t scored since May 6. Coincidentally the last time Cincinnati played Richmond.

Final Thoughts

Cincinnati got a huge three points tonight after a disappointing trip to Florida with one point from two matches. Going to play Miami FC in the US Open Cup Quarterfinals will be one of the toughest challenges to date. The NASL leaders who trounced the second place San Francisco City FC 7-0 over the weekend.

Harrison Delbridge was the only starter missing tonight due to an injury. Justin Hoyte stepped in to the central defensive role and played well.

Kenny Walker is proving to be the solid rock in the midfield for Cincinnati, his passing was incredible putting three balls over the defense assisting Djiby with his goal and creating a great chance that McLaughlin couldn’t finish. He is a player that Coach Koch is happy to have back.

Bale or Ronaldo for Manchester United?

Should a team spend over £100 million for 32-year-old?:

At the beginning of this summer’s transfer window former Manchester United great Cristiano Ronaldo proclaimed to the world he no longer wanted to play for the Spanish giants Real Madrid.This leads many to believe that return to United was imminent but the move has failed to materialize and it’s looking less likely by the day.

While Ronaldo may very well be the best player in the world, he is 32 and should be slowing down on a yearly basis. If Manchester United decided to spend the huge amount of money that is rumored it would be for a depreciating asset. United would have to spend most of their transfer budget on a player and only get a few years of his service.Which is why the smart move for Manchester is to focus on the younger Gareth Bale rather than getting Ronaldo.

Gareth Bale is only 27 and would probably come at a cheaper price. Meaning United would spend less money for a younger player.which is what you always want. The move would give you more years of service than Ronaldo would and they still get one the best players in the world in the middle of his prime. Another factor is Bale’s age gives you the option of re-selling him if he doesn’t fit. Something that wouldn’t be an option if Ronaldo ends up coming since he would then be in his mid-thirties.

So Bale ultimately is the better asset since you’ll get more out of him and he has room to improve. Ronaldo meanwhile could end up getting slower and scoring less but you’ll be stuck with his insane wages while he sits in the bench. Something nobody wants to get stuck with.

The Isco Factor

Isco’s form to finish the season got him in the starting XI over Gareth Bale

Bale finished last season falling out favor in Zidane’s starting XI, which is the another factor why buying the Welshmen this summer would be the smarter choice. Bale’s price will never be cheaper than it is at the moment and it’s even harder to find a world-class player like him on the market. This is why United should make the move now since unhappy megastars are hard to come by.

Isco, who took his place in the Starting XI, has become a fan favorite and the team looks more cohesive and fluid when he is on the field.  Isco looks to have taken firm control of the position going into next season after starting in the Champions League Final in Bale’s hometown.

If the team continues to play well and get results with Isco, than it is hard to believe Zidane would force Bale in the lineup. Madrid might be inclined to get rid of Bale in order to avoid future locker room trouble, since there is no way Bale would be happy coming off the bench. Isco is younger, a fan favorite and Spanish. The Real Madrid fan base has grown to like him, something that has been difficult for Bale to do during his time in the Spanish capital.

David de Gea the key for something to happen

From the Real Madrid point of view, they will have to offload some of their attacking players if they are trying to make budget and space for their transfer targets Kylian Mbappé and Eden Hazard. That is beside their main target for a couple of summers, now Manchester United’s David de Gea.

De Gea is the key for any deal to go down for both teams. As the Spanish keeper will probably be included in any kind of payment for either Ronaldo or Bale. Meaning any transfer could be convenient to both parties.

The Spanish keeper is the key for any deal to happen between the clubs

Despite all that, Bale is still going to be relatively expensive and Real would still insist on a fee of around £100m. Madrid will also be using the situation to leverage their pursuit of David De Gea. While £100 million with or without de Gea seems a lot. Ronaldo is still rumored to be more expensive, asking £150 million for a player that is older.

Assuming that the Red Devils have an open choice between both players it would be dumb to pick Ronaldo over Bale. Any player over the age of 30 that cost more than £50 million is just a bad investment because the player will probably have no resale value and you will only get a couple of years of service.

United have so far been resolute in their refusal to even countenance the sale of their goalkeeper, De Gea since they simply do not need the money. Although some sources feel a swap is the only way a deal goes done as Real Madrid may hold out to finally get David de Gea back to the Spanish capital.

All images by Getty Images

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Cincinnati Advances Past Chicago On Penalties

FC Cincinnati beat the Chicago Fire 3-1 in a penalty shootout after playing 120 scoreless minutes in the Round of 16 of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Mitch Hildebrandt was the player of the match making 10 saves during the match and saving three of the four penalties. An electric 32,287 showed up to set Cincinnati record for a competitive match and the second highest attendance in the US Open Cup.

Hildebrandt reacted to many incredible shots over the course of the night. He made unbelievable saves throughout the match. He was also the beneficiary of a great performance from his backline, particularly Harrison Delbridge who made more than his fair share of tackles, winning six.

Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch commented on the match, “We managed a lot of moments, we grew as the game went along we got ourselves into it creating opportunities. I thought we could have gotten something in extra time, [referring to the Wiedeman no goal] unfortunately we didn’t.”

The Chicago players were visibly upset after the penalties. Their Head Coach Veljko Paunović commented after the match, “We now have to adjust our goals, we wanted to win this competition it is important for our club to get trophies and get trophies for our club.” He later commended Cincinnati saying, “Once again congratulations to FC Cincinnait, best of luck, win it.”

Cincinnati started out pressuring for the first few minutes charging the ball down after every pass but were able to possess little of the ball. Unable to keep that sort of pressure up they fell back and parked the bus and looking more like a back five at points with Josu and Bahner joining the back line.

Chicago had two chances just miss with shots from Brandon Vincent and Matt Polster both going wide. The back line of Cincinnati was incredible; making more than a handful of inch perfect tackles in the box to either block a shot or take the ball away at the last second. Cincinnati started pushing back late in the first half getting the only shot on target by way of Danni Konig. Each of the shots before Konig’s was from 30 or more yards out and off target never worrying the Chicago keeper.

The second half was much more of an even affair with Cincinnati able to possess the ball more and put their footprint onto the match. Bringing on Corben Bone and Jimmy McLaughlin shored up the defense and brought the pacey McLaughlin on the left hand side.

McLaughlin then got to work running up and down the field with fresh legs giving Cincinnati a target on every counter. He was sent into open field due to passes from Austin Berry and Kadeem Dacres both leading to shots on target with good saves from Chicago keeper Matthew Lampson.

A penalty shout in the second half was waved off by the referee. The ball looked to have gone off the hand of a Chicago defender in the box.

Bone had two chances right in injury time that could have ended the match with one shot being saved and another just missing the top corner. But, to extra time we went.

Extra time was a flurry of activity with both teams going for the win. Andrew Wiedeman scored a goal that was ruled out due to him being ruled offside, which replays showed he was onside. After the fans and the players settled down Chicago put a few shots on target prompting Hildebrandt to make a few more fantastic saves. McLaughlin had a chance to seal the match late but is shot was knocked away by the foot of Lampard.

In penalties Cincinnati sent up Aodhan Quinn who fired his first over the bar before Josu, Delbridge, and McLaughlin all sank theirs. Hildebrandt saved three of the four penalties he faced with World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger the only one to score.

News and Notes

Cincinnati has advanced to play against Miami FC (NASL) on July 12 in the US Open Cup Quarterfianals. Miami advanced after beating Atlanta FC (MLS) 3-2 tonight.

After the match Coach Koch praised the fans saying, “There is a lot of passion in our sport across the world, that was pretty unique tonight,” continuing, “The energy tonight was fantastic.” Mitch Hildebrandt echoed his coach’s sentiments saying, “This city is unbelievable.”

Koch also said they have practiced penalties and the takers were due to the stats that have been compiled from the practices.

Cincinnati’s leading scorer Djiby Fall did not play tonight due to a sprained ankle suffered in the St. Louis FC match over the weekend.

Corben Bone and Austin Berry both started their careers with Chicago and both played tonight.

Cincinnati won tonight with 30% possession to Chicago’s 70%. They also were barely outshot 26 to 20 by Chicago.

Moment By Moment

16’ Matt Bahner saves a ball off the line after a great play by Chicago. A great one, two pass before a cross across the face of goal was just missed by the sliding attacker and cleared out by Bahner.

18’ A a deflected shot from Chicago went just wide for a corner. Two great chances for Chicago within two minutes.

39’ Danni Konig beaks away and gets inside the box, his shot is saved by Matthew Lampson and bounced off Konig for a goal kick.

40’ Arturo Alverez takes a shot from outside the box that just bounced wide.

46’ Matt Polster picks up the first yellow of the match after smacking Josu in the face inadvertently

55’ Josu picks up Cincinnati’s first yellow card after kicking the ball away after he disagreed with a foul call.

63’ Mitch Hildebrandt diving save off the shot from Nikolic.

64’ Hildebrandt with another diving save to his right after a shot from Nikolic A cross just long finds the feet of Nikolic whose shot was saved. Harrison Delbridge was behind Hildebrandt on the line and may have stopped the shot.

73’ Nikolic picked up a yellow card after colliding with Marco Dominguez of Cincinnati. Dominguez was down for a minute and received treatment before continuing.

76’ Jimmy McLaughlin with a shot saved by Lampard. A counter started after a great tackle on Bastian Schewineteiger from Austin Berry who then cleared up to an open McLaughlin who charged down into the box and created a little space before putting it off the keeper.

86’ Hildebrandt with another diving save on a good shot from Michael de Leeuw. A careless pass from Justin Hoyte right to de Leeuw led to the chance.

90 + 1 Corben Bone with the breakaway shot just saved by Lampard again. A great pass from Jimmy McLaughlin set Bone free.

90 + 3 Corben Bone just missed the top corner with a shot from outside the box.

97’ A cross from Kadeem Dacres in front of goal was just tipped to safety by Polster before McLauhglin could get his foot on it. Another incredible chance for Cincinnati.

105’ Nikolic has a great chance but it is saved by another great play from Hildebrandt.

110’ Andrew Wiedeman puts a ball into the net but was ruled offside. He received a yellow card for taking his shirt off in celebration.

120’ McLaughlin let loose by a cross from Dacres, but the shot saved by Lampard. Another great ball from Dacres and the shot from McLaughlin almost went in again.

Penalties

Cincinnati – Aodhan Quinn: Missed, Over the bar

Josu: Goal

Harrison Delbridge: Goal

Jimmy McLaughlin: Goal

Chicago – Nikolic: Missed Saved

Arturo Alvarez: Missed Saved

Bastian Schweinsteiger : Goal

Junhino: Missed Saved

Final Thoughts

Tonight was an incredible statement for this city to gain an MLS bid. An impressive victory against one of the better teams in the MLS. 32,287 is quite the achievement and will open many eyes to the special thing this club and city have to offer the top league in America. Both Taylor Twellman and Julie Stewart-Binks made comments on the ESPN telecast complementing the fans and how intelligent they were.

In what looked to be a throw away match for Cincinnati due to starting four players from their great performance last Saturday against St. Louis, Cincinnati was able to get a great win. This shows the incredible depth that Cincinnati has and there are little excuses for not finding a way into the top four in the Eastern Conference for a home playoff game.

The backline tonight of Harrison Delbridge, Justin Hoyte, and Austin Berry was incredible. They closed down almost every attacker and outside of one bad pass from Hoyte were perfect playing the ball out of the back.

U.S. Open Cup Match Preview: Atlanta United vs Miami FC

As we know, alongside the MLS season going on right now, the U.S. Open Cup is also going on. The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is currently the oldest ongoing competition in American soccer. The U.S. Open Cup has been running for 104 years. Many soccer fans compare it to that of the FA Cup in English soccer where clubs of different levels face off in a large tournament. The first round started back in the first week of May which was the Open round. Any club in the country could enter. The second batch of teams coming in during the first round consisted of NPSL (National Premier Soccer League)/PDL (Premier Development League) teams. This would conclude the open rounds. During the second round, which started the following week, NASL (North American Soccer League)/USL (United Soccer League) teams joined in. Finally during the final week of May the MLS (Major League Soccer) teams join in as well.

 

Above is a map showing all 99 teams that are participating in the U.S. Open Cup this year. As you can see there are representatives of many areas across the country. Some clubs that you may be familiar with as well as others that may not be known. Now let’s get to the point. This fifth round matchup between Atlanta United FC and Miami FC. Let’s take a look at each team.

Atlanta United FC

This new MLS Expansion team has been creating quite some buzz in the league. As of right now they sit in 6th Place in the East and 10th Place in the Supporters Shield Standings with 24 pts and a record of (7-7-3). They are averaging 1.41 PPG and currently hold a (5-2-0) record at home. They also lead the league with 33 goals as a team. Pretty impressive stats for a team still in their first season. None of this would be possible without the talented roster that they have. For example, the top scorer of the team, Josef Martinez is currently sitting on 7 goals on the season. If it were not for his injury he received playing for the Venezuelan National team back in March he may be at the top of the scoring table for the league. This injury caused him to miss games all the way up until recently where he slowly got back in to the starting XI.

During his absence, players such as Miguel Almiron and Hector Villalba really stepped up to the plate to provide some scoring for the “Five Stripes”. They also have players such as Yamil Asad in the midfield, who is currently tied as league leader with 9 assists on the season. Atlanta United also has plenty of older more experienced players such as Tyrone Mears and Jeff Larentowicz as well. Take all of this in to consideration and then add a coach such as Gerardo “Tata” Martinez in the mix and you can expect a solid team.

Atlanta will definitely be trying to make a name for itself straight out the gates. Some say this is one of the most successful expansion teams since Seattle. Let’s see if they can hold up to that expectation!

Miami FC

Miami FC is who will be opposing Atlanta in this match. They are also a fairly new team. Founded in May of 2015, Miami FC is currently participating in the NASL. They currently lead the NASL with 30 pts and a record of (9-3-1). Miami also leads the NASL with 23 goals scored. Paired with the highest scoring offense in the league they also only conceded 9 goals in the 13 games they have played. This shows that Miami can also play a good defensive game. I guess Alessandro Nesta is teaching this team a thing or two during his time at head coach for this club.

Last round Miami FC made a huge statement by defeating the MLS side Orlando City FC. The game ended in a 3-1 win for Miami FC with a hat-trick from Stefano Pinho. Many will try to argue that Orlando was playing a lazy game and not taking Miami seriously. I think the scoreline says otherwise though. Miami played a great game taking lots of shots on goal. Even though Orlando had the advantage in possession, they had problems executing in the attacking half. If anything, this game shows that Miami can and will take out an MLS side. Atlanta cannot take these guys lightly.

One thing Miami will have to take in to consideration is the amount of ex-Atlanta Silverbacks players on their roster. This is a definite advantage to them since the players know the system Atlanta will be playing and have played against some of these players before. Miami’s roster is also filled with players with MLS experience. Miami has players such as Gabriel Farfan, Jonathan Barrajo, Michael Lahoud, and Blake Smith just to name a few.

My prediction

Miami and Atlanta are both strong teams on paper and on the field. This game will be very high paced and aggressive. Miami has the home field advantage which is also important. Atlanta definitely shows that they struggle when not playing at home. Most of those away losses did come during a time when Josef Martinez was injured though and Atlanta was still trying to find themselves as a team without their leading scorer. Miami on the other hand, does well at home and away. They also show that they do not let MLS opposition scare them as we saw against Orlando last round. Their previous MLS experience will show but at the end of the day I see Atlanta pulling this one through. Even though they have less MLS experience they do have players with lots of international experience. Atlanta’s fast paced play is hard to keep up with for any team.

It will be a low scoring game. My prediction for end score is 2-1 for Atlanta. Will the “Five Stripes” pull through with another victory or will Miami upset another MLS side on their journey to the U.S. Open Cup final? The game takes place June 28, 2017 at Riccardo Silva Stadium in Miami, FL at 7:30pm EST. It will be streamed here at the U.S. Soccer site. Will you be watching? Who do you think will win?

 

Featured Image by Miami FC, other images from US Soccer and Atlanta United

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Cincinnati Knocks Off St. Louis

FC Cincinnati beat St. Louis FC 2-0 in a match that was wider than the score line. A St. Louis own goal early from AJ Cochran and a tap in from Danni Konig were enough to give Cincinnati all three points.

Total domination for Cincinnati with attacks coming from all sides. This was the best performance of the season with chances coming from all over the place with a total team performance. The passing was on and everything but the final ball was perfect. The first half very easily could have seen Cincinnati lead by three at the break.

Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch commented on the match, “It was a very good performance, the way we possessed the ball at times tonight was the best we possessed the ball all season long…very, very happy with the performance tonight.”

The own goal set the tone for the night after a great long ball from Corben Bone to Andrew Wiedeman whose shot was saved but trickled behind the keeper and the running Cochran kicked it into his own net. Setting up a bad night for the defender who also picked up a yellow card in the second half.

Cincinnati then went on a tear from then on in the first half attacking relentlessly from all sides. Jimmy McLaughlin was all over the field causing problems for the St. Louis backline all evening. He was unfortunate to not have scored in the first half hitting the far post with a laser. His night peaked when he made a perfect pass inside the six-yard box splitting the goalkeeper and a charging defender to allow Konig to tap it in.

The defense did a great job tonight with Mitch Hildebrandt only having to make one tough save tonight. Every other shot was right at him with only one coming from inside the box all night and it was a weak header.

Djiby Fall was unable to get on the score sheet after putting four past the keeper in his last outing against St. Louis. But, he did end up in the referee’s book with a yellow card after retaliating against Erick Cabalceta. Djiby and Cabalceta were both going for a ball along the sideline where Djiby was sent into a table in between the benches. Cabalceta pulled out of the play when he arrived at the sideline but Djiby’s momentum carried him into the table. Djiby was down for a minute after the play to receive treatment and would continue for 10 minutes. Cabalceta received a yellow card.

News and Notes

Cincinnati moves into sixth place in the Eastern Conference with the win bringing them up to 20 points on the season with a 5-5-5 record.

This is the third match using three central defenders amassing two wins and a draw.

The referee was generous tonight after being shoved by St. Louis’s Emir Alihodzic due to him being upset after a foul. A red card, or at least a yellow, should have been accessed and it wouldn’t be surprising if a suspension was accessed on Monday by the league.

20,125 was the attendance this evening. Another great crowd and it seems to be normal, good signs for Cincinnati and a potential MLS bid.

Next Up

Cincinnati hosts the Chicago Fire (MLS) in the Round of 16 of Lamar Hunt US Open Cup at Nippert Stadium at 8:00 pm. The game will also be televised on ESPN2, which is why the time changed from 7:00 to 8:00. This is the first ever meeting of the two sides. Chicago has won the US Open Cup four times, most recently in 2006.

Next Saturday Cincinnati will travel to Florida to play Orlando City B at 8:30 This will be the second meeting of the season between the teams with the first being a   2-0 Orlando victory at Nippert on May 13. Orlando currently sits in seventh in the Eastern Conference (5-6-4) with 19 points.

Moments of the Match

7’ Cincinnati took the lead off an own goal from St. Louis’s AJ Cochran. Andrew Wiedeman made a run behind the St Louis back line where Corben Bone played an incredible long ball that Wiedeman chested down and hit a poor shot off the keeper and Cochran kicked the ball right into the goal while running.

17’ Wiedeman put a great back heel pass back to a wide-open Corben Bone whose shot is right at the keeper. He had plenty of space and should have done better.

23’ A shot from the top of the box from St. Louis’s Erick Cabalceta forcing a good diving save from Mitch Hildebrandt.

30’ Octavio Guzman of St. Louis picked up the first caution of the match after taking down Bone.

44’ Kenny Walker played a great pass up to Jimmy McLaughlin after a great run into space. McLaughlin collected and fired a shot that ricocheted off the far post.

52’ Cabalceta picks up a yellow card after running Djiby Fall into the table between the benches. Djiby was down for a minute and received medical attention before being able to continue.

53’ Djiby went back at Cabalceta and sent him to the ground seconds after play resumed earning his team’s first yellow.

58’ A great interception by Tyler Polak led to a one on two for Cincinnati. He passed it over to Wiedeman but a defender who was able to chase him down and block his shot.

66’ Danni Konig taps home a pass from McLaughlin from a yard out. McLaughlin chased down a deflected shot from Walker and a great turn and pass from the left of the six-yard box is met by Konig for the tap in.

74’ Cochran picks up a yellow card for taking down Bone on a counter attack.

87’ St Louis picked up their fourth booking of the match by way of Wes Charpie taking down Konig on a counter attack.

Final Thoughts

The best performance all season leads to three much needed points. The three man back line is working extremely well and the movement in the midfield is excellent. Jimmy McLaughlin and Andrew Wiedeman both made great runs behind the back line creating one goal and having a shot off the post. They both look to be in the form they had last season which will be a problem for their future opponents. After 15 matches the system is in place and the results should start trending upwards.

Now on to the Chicago Fire this Wednesday in what will surely be an incredible match at Nippert and draw around 30,000 and ESPN2 will be broadcasting the game.

Cincinnati Hosting Chicago In US Open Cup

FC Cincinnati will host the Chicago Fire of the MLS in the US Open Cup fifth round on June 28 at 7:00 pm at Nippert Stadum. The winner will face the winner of Miami FC (NASL) and Atlanta United (MLS).

FC Cincinnati against the Columbus Crew on June 14, 2017

Cincinnati beat the Columbus Crew in a thrilling 1-0 victory where Djiby Fall headed in his ninth goal of the season and his third in Open Cup play to advance through to the fifth round. Djiby has scored every goal for Cincinnati in Cup play while the defense has kept three clean sheets.

Cincinnati hosted AFC Cleveland (NPSL) in the second round and Louisville City (USL) in the third round. Cincinnati had to play 120 minutes before scoring in the 117 minute with a header by Djiby to beat Cleveland. Against Louisville, Djiby smashed a corner home in the 49 minute in a hotly contested match against two local rivals that ended with a rough handshake between both head coaches.

Chicago was given a bye until fourth round due to being in the MLS. They beat St. Louis FC (USL) 1-0 off an incredible Luis Solignac goal.

This will be the first time Cincinnati has played in the fifth round of the Open Cup after being knocked out in their inaugural season in the third round by the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Chicago has a long history of success in the Open Cup winning it four times, most recently in 2006, and being one of six teams to capture it four times according to their official website. Chicago advanced to the semi-final last year before being knocked out by the New England Revolution.

After setting a Fourth Round attendance record with 30,160 against Columbus expect a large crowd to show up at Nippert for this one.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Djiby Heads Cincinnati Past Columbus

FC Cincinnati beats the Columbus Crew 1-0 in the US Open Cup Fourth Round in front of 30,160. Djiby Fall scored the only goal in the 64 minute after heading Justin Hoyte’s cross to himself before heading it over the outstretched hand of the Columbus Crew keeper Brad Stuver.

Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch commented, “Great performance by our guys, we gave them a plan and they went out and executed it to a tee.” When asked how big of a personal achievement this was he deflected putting the emphasis on the club and city saying, “Tonight’s special, tonight’s about our club and our city. It’s about everything we are trying to work towards really came together tonight,” he continued, “It is certainly not the end, this is hopefully the start for the group we had.”

Columbus started a very strong lineup with six regular starters in the starting 11, including Designated Player Federico Higuain. Columbus Head Coach Gregg Berhalter commented on the staring lineup, “We want to win the game and that was the objective.”

Cincinnati started a very strong starting 11 as well but in a new formation with three center backs, five midfielders, and two strikers.

Cincinnati came in with a plan and executed it very well by welcoming the pressure that Columbus brought and sending long balls up to their strikers Djiby and Danni Konig. Many of the first half crosses send in by wing back Matt Bahner were not accurate enough in the first half. The back three played extremely well sending most of the crosses from the wings out of the box.

The best chance for Cincinnati in the first half was a volley from Djiby that was just over the bar. He didn’t miss on his second chance when a long ball up to Konig allowed the rest of the Cincinnati team to catch up and Hoyte delivered a perfect cross to Djiby who headed it to himself and then into the net.

Columbus really took the game to Cincinnati early on dominating possession throughout the game and dominated in total shots 16 to five. Early in the match Columbus was able to get balls through the back three and into dangerous shooting positions but were unable to put any of the shots on target. Columbus’s best chance in the first half was a shot from Adam Jahn that was put into the side netting right before halftime after a cross from Ethan Findley.

Their best two chances of the night came in the six minutes of extra time. The first, a cross from Niko Hansen across the box and a sliding Jahn couldn’t get his foot on it to redirect it for a goal. Second, a volley from Higuain just went over the bar.

News and Notes

Cincinnati set a new US Open Cup Fourth Round record for attendance tonight. This is the third highest attendance behind the Crystal Palace friendly and the playoff match last year against the Charleston Battery.

Djiby scored his third goal in Cup play tonight and his ninth for Cincinnati in all competitions, six in USL play.

Berhalter commented on the atmosphere, “This is what makes soccer special and it’s great to give Americans a great cup atmosphere.”

Hoyte came on in the 58 minute for Matt Bahner and played right back which is the opposite side of the field he normally plays. His first attempted cross was sent into the Bailey.

After the match Columbus midfielder Justin Merem and the supporters section exchanged words and Columbus fans were attempting to throw punches.

Moment By Moment

3’ Adam Jahn collected a ball went across goal and just wide.

17’ Djiby Fall receives the ball at the top of the box and just fires over. He received a great pass from Matt Bahner and put a volley just over under pressure from a Columbus defender.

45’ Ethan Findley put a good pass into Jahn who puts the shot into the side netting. A good chance for Columbus and one that could have been a goal.

45 +2’ Columbus’s Waylon Francis picks up the first yellow card of the match for bringing down Matt Bahner down on the side of the box. The resulting free kick from Aodhan Quinn was put on target but just tipped wide by the keeper Brad Stuver. The referee blew the halftime whistle before the corner could be taken.

64’ Djiby put a header into the top corner of the net to give Cincinnati the lead. A cross from Hoyte into Djiby who headed the ball up to himself and then arched to over Stuver’s outstretched hand.

71’ Niko Hansen puts a good pass from the end line to Justin Merem who puts his shot across goal and wide by a foot. He had his head in his hands after that miss.

74’ Mitch Hildebrandt gets a yellow card for taking to long on a goal kick after a substitution.

90 +1’ After a throw in the entire Cincinnati defense looked to switch off and Hansen was able to run down the line and put in a very dangerous low cross that Jahn just missed redirecting into the net for the equalizer.

90 +4’ Federico Higuain put a volley just over the bar. A good cross but a poor finish, would have sent the match into extra time.

Up Next

The US Open Cup Fifth Round draw will be held tomorrow June 15 to decide who plays who and a coin flip will decide who hosts the match. The match will be held either June 27 or 28.

Cincinnati’s next USL match will be this Saturday at 7:00 pm at Nippert Stadium. Charleston is currently the top team in the Eastern Conference with 27 points (8-2-3). In the first meeting of the season Charleston won 2-1 in the season opener.

Cincinnati will host St. Louis FC on the following Saturday June 24 at 7:00 pm. Last match Djiby scored four against St. Louis in a 4-0 win on April 15.

Final Thoughts

Tonight is a huge testament to what Cincinnati is trying to do and getting 30,160 for a US Open Cup match is putting them in position to make the jump to MLS. Coming off a great week for the club the win puts Cincinnati at the front of the sporting landscape in Cincinnati for the foreseeable future. The atmosphere was incredible and I wish I could have heard more but the glass in the press box prevented that.

On the field Cincinnati looked incredible very compact defensively and the substitutions that came on played well. Djiby and Konig held the ball up very well later in the match, early they looked confused when needing to hold up the ball. Around the 30 minute, as usual, they came out of their shell and looked to attack more even though the chances didn’t come that was the turning point where Columbus didn’t look like they were going to score on most of their trips down.

Overall this was a great night for the city of Cincinnati and their soccer club FC Cincinnati. Though may have wanted to move a few more banners due to fans sitting above and next to them in the upper deck.

Cincinnati Struggles To Draw With Charlotte

FC Cincinnati hosted the Charlotte Independence in a 1-1 draw in Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium in front of 21,115 fans. Charlotte’s Alex Martinez scored early and right before halftime Justin Hoyte drew level. Cincinnati was unable to capitalize on Enzo Martinez’s second yellow.

Both goals were fantastic with Alex Martinez gathering a great pass and firing the ball over the top of keeper Mitch Hildebrandt from a tight angle. Hoyte had one almost as pretty where he chested a ball down to Jimmy McLaughlin who played a pass back that was intercepted by a defender but poorly cleared. Hoyte one timed a curler into the bottom corner.

“Feels like a loss,” Is how Cincinnati Head Coach Alan Koch started his postgame press conference. “Off the success we have had at home we play here and expect to win.” He further critiqued his team saying, “Individual little mistakes prevented us from really getting on top of the game tonight.”

Cincinnati started slow early again giving up some early chances where the defense seemed to not want to close down Charlotte players with the ball, particularly Enzo Martinez. Luckily nothing came of them due to two being right at Mitch Hildebrandt and an acrobatic save on another.

The goal from Alex Martinez was just one more chance after a long period of domination by Charlotte, including the chances mentioned above. It was the result of Enzo Martinez once again cutting though the Cincinnati defense and making a good pass to Jorge Herrera, who quickly passed it to Alex Martinez for the goal.

Later in the first half Cincinnati was able to to put pressure on and create chances with two good shots from Danni Konig and Kenny Walker. A defender blocked Konig’s off the line, while Walker’s was just over after an intercepted pass.

Hoyte leveling the game just before half gave Cincinnati the goal and momentum they needed going into the break. McLaughlin was not rewarded an assist due to the pass first being intercepted.

The second half was not the open affair with both defenses being able to pack it in and chances dwindled. Cincinnati had more possession in the second half but quality chances were few and far between. Charlotte had a corner just go over the bar as their best chance. McLaughlin had Cincinnati’s best chance in stoppage time when his shot from inside the box was blocked by Luke Waechter, who was injured blocking the shot.

Enzo Martinez’s red card didn’t have much of an impact due because it was so late and a Cincinnati player was unable to get on the end of a good free kick from Aodhan Quinn.

News and Notes

The result tonight gives Cincinnati 16 points (4-5-4) on the season and puts them in the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

In the post game press conference Coach Koch, Hoyte, and Harrison Delbridge all looked disappointed after the result and all commented how they wanted to come away with a win and three points.

Delbridge commented on the noise level tonight saying, “People don’t realize I’m trying to talk to (Quinn) in front of me, sometimes he doesn’t hear me because the crowd is so loud.”

Justin Hoyte scored his first goal for FC Cincinnati and his first since 2012 when he played for Middlesbrough FC. This was his second appearance since coming back from his pulled hamstring and his third total.

Josu made his home debut tonight coming on in the 64 minute. His second for the club after his debut last weekend.

Former Cincinnati forward Casey Townsend made his first appearance against his former club registering one shot.

Moment By Moment

 

10’ Charlotte intercepted a pass in the midfield and was able to make a break toward goal and Alex Martinez had the field open up in front of him and fired a shot but it was pushed wide by the diving keeper, Mitch Hildebrandt.

17’ The first yellow card of the game went to Charlotte’s Enzo Martinez for throwing the ball on the ground after being called for a foul by the referee.

18’ Charlotte’s Alex Martinez scored the first goal of the match firing the ball into the roof of the net from. He received a pass inside the box from Jorge Herrera and was able to dribble a couple times before firing up and over Hildebrandt.

27’ Danni Konig had a shot from inside the box saved off the line by a Charlotte defender. Dacres received the ball on the right and was able to get around his defender and pass to Konig whose shot was saved by a Charlotte defender. Jimmy McLaughlin was behind him unmarked and if the ball had gone though it would have been a good chance on goal.

31’ Charlotte’ David Estrada hit the post on a shot after a good pass up and Cincinnati’s backline again letting Charlotte walk through again.

36’ Kenny Walker of Cincinnati had a Charlotte clearance go directly to him outside the box and he fired a shot just missing the top corner.

43’ Walker receives a yellow after a kicking a Charlotte midfielder while he was on the ground in a dirty tackle.

45’ Justin Hoyte scored his first goal for Cincinnati with a curler just before the half to level the score. He chested down a pass to Corben Bone on the left side of the box who played a leading pass back to Hoyte before a nice curler was sent into the bottom corner of the net.

55’ Austin Waechter picked up a yellow for taking down Konig. The resulting free kick was close to the corner flag and the ball was almost headed in by Waechter but was a saved by his keeper, Cody Mizell, kept it out.

75’ Free kick from Cincinnati is headed just wide by Harrison Delbridge. Delbridge’s header was likely meant to be sent across to Djiby Fall but was over his head.

90’ A second yellow card was issued to Enzo Martinez after he cut down Djiby in the midfield. The resulting free kick was headed on by Delbridge but was easily corralled by the keeper.

90′ +2 McLaughlin fires a shot that is blocked by the Charlotte defense. The deflection soars into the air and is allowed to bounce out for a goal kick. It looked like the ball was not touched after the deflection but the call stood as a goal kick instead of a corner.

Up Next

Cincinnati hosts the Columbus Crew in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Fourth Round this Wednesday June 14 at 7:00 pm. In what is being called the “Hell is Real” derby by supporters of both clubs this is looking to be a fiery affair with Cincinnati trying to prove that they are ready for the MLS both on and off the field and Columbus trying to stamp out their new neighbors to the South.

Cincinnati’s next USL match will be this Saturday at 7:00 pm at Nippert Stadium. Charleston is currently the top team in the Eastern Conference with 27 points (8-2-3). In the first meeting of the season Charleston won 2-1 in the season opener.

Final Thoughts

This was a disappointing draw for Cincinnati and they are running out of time to get results having played two or three more matches then the teams around them in the standings. It is more likely they fall out of playoff positions than move up the table.

It was a poor first 20 minutes for Cincinnati where they never closed down Charlotte’s leading scorer Enzo Martinez letting him get off two shots, with one forcing a spectacular diving save from Mitch Hildebrandt. The shot from David Estrada that hit the woodwork was another example of bad defense after he was allowed to drive in. The early struggles need to be fixed by Coach Koch.

Cincinnati put pressure on around the 35 minute per usual and dominated the final 10 minutes of the first half. This has always been their best part of the game and they need to figure out how to expand the time frame where they can create chances.

A win against Columbus this Wednesday could go a long way to win a little goodwill after the frustrating start to the season. But I recognize that is unlikely.

But hey at least the fans got to see fireworks after the game.

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