Darren Mattocks closed, his eyes, wrapped his hands around the goalpost and pressed his head against it. His look was of pure exhaustion – physically and mentally.
Seconds before, he raced toward a loose ball, but New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles beat him to it. Earlier in the second half – roughly in the same spot – Mattocks beat Robles to the ball, but when he went to shoot from a tight angle, his shot hit the post he later held.
That same post also denied a Roland Lamah volley. Later, Kendall Waston attempted a header toward an open goal. The ball hit the crossbar.
That’s how it ended Saturday night in Red Bull Arena. New York had one significant chance, it took it and scored. It snatched the three points. Cincinnati hit the woodwork three times, didn’t score and didn’t earn a point.
And that’s where Mattocks’ mental frustration was evident.
“Luck just isn’t going our way right now in terms of putting the ball in the back of the net,” he said after the game. “We’re getting our chances, but it’s just not going in.”
FC Cincinnati have created chances. In fact, they’ve created too many to not score. They haven’t been scoring, however.
With the defeat, they’ve lost three straight and haven’t produced a goal in 341 minutes – the longest drought in MLS.
The Jamaican scored the club’s last goal on April 7 from a penalty in a 1-1 home draw with Sporting Kansas City.
Since then, FCC played well enough to at least tie league-leading LAFC but lost 2-0, lost 3-0 to Real Salt Lake after dominating the first half that included nine corners, and then Saturday night’s onslaught of chances in the second half.
The schedule isn’t getting any easier. The loss in New York sparked a cross-country tour that includes three games in eight days. But the schedule – or the opponent’s ability – isn’t the problem. The issue is just scoring.
“We’re getting our chances, but (the ball) is just not going in,” Mattocks said. “This is a low point in the season for us in terms of goal productivity, but we’ve just got to stay on course.
“I keep saying it for two, three, four weeks now, but we’ve just got to stay together because as soon as they start going in, we’ll be good.”
Head Coach Alan Koch essentially said the same thing.
“We are creating chances,” Koch said. “When we get those chances, we have to bury them.”
The chances created will continue. The goals will come, too.
When the Orange and Blue left Cincinnati for this trip, they left with more attacking options than ever before.
During this recent goal drought, Mattocks has been the only active forward on FC Cincinnati’s roster. Emmanuel Ledesma was injured with a hamstring injury since the March 24 win at New England Revolution. Fanendo Adi hasn’t played since March 17 – a 3-0 win against Portland Timbers – because of an ankle injury and legal matters.
Both are back healthy.
Ledesma started Saturday night and had moments of quality. He’s a nice addition to Koch’s options. Additionally, Adi is available for selection, but didn’t travel to New York.
The point is, Mattocks has essentially been the club’s exclusive striker recently. Because he’s been unable to score, there’s been added pressure on him.
But the pressure is going away. The drought will, too. The effort and quality are there. Now, Cincinnati just need the goals. Wednesday night at Philadelphia Union is the first chance to score some.