(Photo by Victor Tan / New Day Review)

June 27, 2017 at Sylvan Lake Park

Availability: HC Anthony Pulis

HC Anthony Pulis

FC Cincinnati is undefeated in its past four games, including a victory over Major League Soccer side Columbus Crew SC in the US Open Cup.

You’re right. Cincinnati are kind of right in the crest of the wave at the moment there. They’re in a really good run of form, Obviously, they’ve been winning games in Open Cup, winning games in the league. I think we can definitely take confidence in when we went there a month or so ago and put in a good performance and got a victory. And obviously we come back off the back of a good victory at Rochester. So, the guys are in a good mood at the moment, but we know it’s gonna be a very difficult game. Just trying to second guess what Cincy are going to do, I think, is gonna be the difficult thing because with them playing on Wednesday night and then having a quick turnaround, I would imagine that they may change the lineup a little bit. So we’re kind of trying to do a little bit of research and see what we’re gonna come up against from a personnel standpoint.

Pulis sees Cincinnati as one of the powerhouses of the United Soccer League and is not underestimating their depth.

I would imagine that they will put their best 11 out tomorrow against Chicago. Having said that, they’ve got probably the best squad in USL, barring maybe Tampa Bay Rowdies or Louisville. So, if they do change it around, the guys that come in are more than capable of coming in and performing. Plus, the guys that maybe come in and play that haven’t been playing for them regularly are gonna be hungry ’cause they’re gonna wanna kind of stake a place and say they should be in the first 11 really. So, whichever 11 they put out, I know it’s gonna be a difficult game for us.

On their three-game road trip, OCB finished on a high note with a 1-0 win over the Rochester Rhinos after two l-0 losses before.

Well, I think we defended really well as a team against Rochester. I still felt like we had certain moments at Toronto and at Ottawa, especially in the second half of both games, where we probably could have gotten something out of both of those games. Listen, we talk to the guys all the time that the margins between winning, losing and drawing at this level are so fine. And we obviously scored pretty early in that game against Rochester, and we kind of beat Rochester at their own game. We scored early, and then we were able to defend a little bit deeper in more tight, compact blocks, and Rochester are not really the most comfortable team at having to chase a game. They’re usually the team that gets the first goal and sits back and defends and makes it difficult, similar to what we encountered at Orlando City Stadium when we played them three weeks ago. So, we knew that the first goal there was gonna be really important. Thankfully, we got that and we managed to defend well, see it out, get three points and a clean sheet on the road.

Pierre da Silva is tied for second-most assists in the USL with six. He is tied with Real Monarchs SLC’s Sebastian Velasquez and trails New York Red Bulls II’s Vincent Bezecourt.

Pierre’s been excellent for us, apart from maybe one or two games where he’s had a little dip. For the most part, we’ve been really pleased with him. I think he’s obviously a young player with a lot of potential, a lot of talent, and I think he’s now leading the USL with assists, which is great for him that he’s actually getting that production now. ‘Cause I think last year he was performing well, but there wasn’t really—at times, we felt like there could be a little more end product for him, and now he’s getting that productivity. So hopefully he can carry that on. And [Fernando] Timbó’s coming back from an injury. He’s been out for a while now with a couple of injuries. He’s a player who’s looked at very highly, and I think once we get him properly game fit, then I think he’s gonna be a good player for us.

For Pulis, the next step in da Silva’s development is goal-scoring. He has just one goal in 13 games (12 starts) and 1,070 minutes.

First and foremost, his mentality and his attitude to work is second to none. Every game he plays, he gives it everything he’s got. We would obviously like to see him on the scoresheet a little bit more, if we can. That would probably be the next layer. But just more of the same. He picks up—he’s very coachable, Pierre. You ask him to do things. He picks up good positions that you ask him to in possession. Defensively now, he’s improving a lot compared to where he was last year. So, yeah, more of the same, and hopefully he can add a few more goals on top of his assists.