One Big Question: Was last year's late-season defensive solidity a bunker-based mirage?
This one's simple: Cincy set a new record last year for defensive ineptitude by shipping 75 goals. It was brutal.
But the last month of the season was promising as they went 1-3-1, ruined some playoff hopes and allowed only three goals in those five games. They did it by conceding a ton of the ball – in total they had maybe 40% possession during that stretch, and spent most of those 450 minutes defending in their goalkeeper's lap.
It was worth it! Cincy were en route to one of the most legendarily poor seasons in league history to that point, and while they'll still be remembered for a lot of bad reasons, that stretch of "let's just get a result" was promising.
And yet they only scored twice in that span. For as promising as the results were, they came at the expense of any sort of pretense toward actual soccer. They had almost none of the ball and they wanted almost none of the ball, and I don't think that's the way Ron Jans is going to try to have his team play in 2020.
What happens when center backs Kendall Waston and Maikel Van der Werff, and d-mid Haris Medunjanin – all of whom are in their 30s, and none of whom are fleet-footed – have to put out a fire in the open field? What happens if and when they're knocking the ball around and there's a bad turnover? Will it look like the Cincy team that was on track to concede 80+ goals before the September bunker?
Jans has to thread that needle. FC Cincinnati are a much more talented team than last year, but it's a big ask.