FC Cincinnati Improving Each Week: Look To Move Up Standings
It is easy to look at the MLS standings and say that FC Cincinnati is struggling again as they sit in last place with the league heading into the international break. But with three weeks between games, the Orange and Blue have a chance to continue improving into the summer months.
Jaap Stam’s squad has added a plethora of experienced players this season, including USMNT defender Geoff Cameron, MLS veteran goalkeeper Kenneth Vermmer and designated players Brenner and Luciano Acosta. The blending of the new talent with some promising youngsters has seen FCC play their best soccer yet since joining the league in 2019.
Promising Start, then a Rough Patch
The season got off to a promising start for FCC as they earned a point in Nashville to begin the campaign. Przemyslaw Tyton made a career-high 11 saves at Nissan Stadium, while Acosta and Brenner both picked up their first goals for the Orange and Blue. The bad news from the opener was blowing a 2-0 lead after the 16th minute penalty by Brenner.
The next two games did not go according to plan at all. NYCFC blitzed FC Cincinnati 5-0 on April 24, with all five goals coming from set pieces. One week later, a trip to Florida resulted in a 3-0 loss to Orlando City SC.
Welcome Home, New Stadium, and Fans Are Back
Finally, the Orange and Blue were able to open a sparkling new TQL Stadium with limited capacity on Sunday, May 16. The game started poorly with Inter Miami CF taking a 2-0 lead. However, the Orange and Blue rallied, thrilling the fans with goals from Alvaro Barreal and Nick Hagglund.
However, Miami picked up the final goal of the match and left town with a 3-2 win. That result handed FCC their third straight loss, but they welcomed Cameron, Gustavo Vallecilla, and Vermeer to the team with their Orange and Blue debuts.
The Breakthrough Win
Stam’s side went to Florida to face CF Montreal on May 22 and came home with their first win of the 2021 campaign. Again they showed the ability to rally after falling behind 1-0 in the 56th minute.
Jurgen Locadia scored the equalizer in the 71st minute off a corner kick as Cameron provided the header off the initial rebound. Four minutes from time, it was another set-piece that gave FCC the win. Ronald Matarrita’s cross perfectly found the head of Vallecilla for the 2-1 winner. The come-from-behind win is the first such victory in the MLS history of FC Cincinnati.
Another Close Call at Home
The final game before the international break came against the Eastern Conference-leading New England Revolution. The result was a 1-0 loss, but the performance was inspiring and showed the growth of the Orange and Blue.
They fought toe-to-toe with the Revs the entire game and didn’t fall behind until a 70th-minute header from Adam Buksa. In the end, FCC had a great chance, but Cameron’s header went just over the bar with a limited-capacity crowd at TQL ready to erupt.
The May 29 game was the first time Stam had all three designated players at his disposal, and all three started. Locadia and Brenner played up top in the switch to a 3-5-2 with Luciano Acosta in midfield.
The Next Step
With a couple of positive results from the first six games, it appears the Orange and Blue are ready for the next step. The defense has stabilized with Cameron as an anchor and Vermeer in goal, allowing just two goals in the last 180 minutes.
FC Cincinnati has six goals from six different goal scorers on the season, with Brenner’s goal coming from the penalty spot. Matarrita leads the way with three assists as he, Brenner, Joe Gyau, and Yuya Kubo are the only players to start all six games.
When action resumes, the schedule isn’t bad for FCC. They host Colorado Rapids (4-2-1, 13 pts) on June 19 before heading to the Windy City for a June 23 date with the Chicago Fire (1-5-1, 4 pts). They finish June with a game against Toronto FC (1-4-2, 5 pts) in Florida before traveling to Houston (3-3-2, 11 pts) on July 3.
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