The Nightingale: Cincinnati…
By Richard Nightingale
” Football is a game of mistakes. Whoever makes the fewest mistakes wins ” – Johan Cryuff
Agbossoumonde’s sending off just before half time sealed Pittsburgh’s fate and now in four encounters with Cincinnati they have failed to find the back of the net. The game didn’t have a lot of quality and was littered with mistakes and poor decision making.
Kobe Bryant said ” Winning takes precedent over all else. There’s no grey area. No Almosts ”
Critics will look at the free kick Hertzog missed from six yards out as pivotal. Those are hard opportunities to convert with so many players standing on the goal line. Most defenders in those situations jump up out of natural instinct and you are better served keeping the ball on the ground. Also, your better off laying the ball to the side for the strike than straight back. All water under the bridge as Pittsburgh against a pretty mediocre Cincinnati team managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
The Djiby goal was well taken from an excellent Wiedemen cross. Yet Wiedemen should never have got the cross in. Thompson gave him too much space, didn’t close him down quick enough and then Jack for a fraction got caught ball watching and lost Djiby who read and reacted to the cross better. The header was directed to the ground, bouncing high into the top right corner. I’ve seen those saved. Mitchell got the start over Broome who was in goal and conceded three against New York last week. Candidly both Mitchell and Broome don’t inspire me, don’t look the business and although early in the season I would suggest that on any other USL team they would be back up keepers. My fear now is that Coach Brandt will start rotating them every game much like he did with his two keepers last season. As we found out that is a highway to hell.
The red card was justified. Coach Brandt can be frustrated but two yellows and poor fouls at that do equal a red in any league. For the second bookable offense Agbossoumonde must have had a rush of blood because Wiedemen was out wide and going nowhere. Just play the angle, get goal side hold the player up. No need to win the ball.
Pittsburgh didn’t have much depth on their bench. No game changing subs. Coach Brandt called out his injuries going into the game and Pittsburgh certainly missed Okai in the middle of midfield. Training every day on artificial grass as Highmark Stadium is will take it’s toll on players. Most professional teams and players refuse to even step onto artificial grass because of the impact it has on joints. When you have such an extensive pre – season as Pittsburgh did that will only compound the issue.
Being technically good as player will only get you so far in the USL. Pittsburgh have plenty of young and technically gifted players such as Swanson, Hollingsworth and Souto. Teams can be organized, tactics discussed to the tenth degree but at the end of the day mistakes cost games and how you play is secondary. You want entertainment go to a circus.
Jose Mourinho said ” It is not important how we play. If you have a Ferrari and I have a small car, to beat you in a race I have to break your wheel or put sugar in your tank ”
Winning is an art, it’s learned and Pittsburgh need to figure it out. What we are seeing now is albeit a more talented player pool but same end product. On wrong side of the result. Winning in any sport is a cure on and off the field. It will drive attendance, attract sponsors and help recruit a higher caliber player. Domino effect. You do whatever you have to, just win and doesn’t matter if the EPL or USL.
Pittsburgh have a plethora of midfielders in the squad they don’t have any ‘ marquee ‘ players that can boss or tune a game in the opponents half. Relying on Kerr and Hertzog to create their own chances isn’t a sustainable solution. Goals have to come from that pool of midfield players also. One of them has to deliver at least ten goals this season. I don’t see where the goals will come from. Teams will latch on to the fact that Hertzog is the primary threat and have a plan to shut him down (much as Cincinnati did). Kerr will get increasingly frustrated and drop deeper and deeper trying to get the ball and make things happen. Any opponent won’t have an issue with Kerr having the ball in his own third with his back to goal.
One point out of six from two home games. Still many questions unanswered and while many new faces, we need to see more quality and better judgment from these players.
The fog has not lifted from over this team and the clock is ticking for Coach Brandt.
The path forward doesn’t get easier. Charleston (away) is daunting.