FC Cincinnati sit alone, atop the Eastern Conference for the first time in club history with Saturday’s 1-0 win against Miami. Four wins in six matches has the Orange and Blue flying high as their 14 points trail only St. Louis CITY SC’s 15 in the Supporter’s Shield standings.
Yet FC Cincinnati found themselves “grinding out three points” according to Head Coach Pat Noonan against Inter Miami CF, who ended Matchday 6 in 10th place in the Eastern Conference after dropping their fourth straight match. The visiting Herons tested Cincinnati at home from the start, out-possessing FCC nearly two-to-one.
“It’s good to get three points,” said Noonan. “Aside from that, it was really hard to pull some positives, starting with myself. The week of preparation was strange and there were just some things that threw the rhythm off coming in. That starts with me. I give them credit for, on a very poor night, grinding out three points, which is what that game was.”
Among the factors Noonan referred to which threw off the rhythm was a late week injury to Obinna Nwobodo, who missed his first game due to injury since coming to Cincinnati. Midfielders Junior Moreno and Marco Angulo each arrived later in the week after long stints abroad with their national teams in Saudi Arabia and Australia, respectively. The second-year head coach also pointed to two FCC 2 matches in the week affecting the numbers in training.
But Noonan also made very clear that the reasonings were not excuses for his team. And among the positives on the evening included Cincinnati’s ability to contain a dangerous Miami attack, led by former MLS MVP Josef Martínez. Cincinnati held the star forward, who scored six times in his career against FCC, to just one shot on target.
“I did think Matt, Junior, Santi coming on, did well. Roman was good as well,” said Noonan. The one thing I thought, even though we didn’t have the ball, is that we weren’t getting threatened in our box with clear chances. That was credit to the backline and Roman. I thought we actually kept them out of really dangerous looks consistently throughout the night. But, we have to be more consistent in being a better version of ourselves with these results.”
It's now three wins in three games at TQL Stadium to start the season and the Orange and Blue are already halfway to matching their 2022 home win total. FC Cincinnati are one of just three teams who are 3-0-0 at home to start the season (Columbus Crew, LAFC).
“We’ve put an early emphasis on having a better home record and rewarding our fans,” said Noonan. “The support they have given us and the improvements of our game day atmosphere, you want to reward those people and send them home talking about a win. Credit the group, because we’ve won in our three home games so far. You start to have an expectation that this is what should be the end result every time we step on the field at home.”
The celebration of Saturday’s win was met with an understanding of the overall performance, and Noonan acknowledged there is a long way to go.
“We’ll celebrate if we are in this position at the end of the year,” said Noonan. “I like the fact that the guys have a good feel to respond to results, good or bad, depending on the performance and where and how we are winning these games.”
A late first half stoppage time goal from an unlikely source would prove to be the difference in the match as Yerson Mosquera scored his first goal for the club and earned FC Cincinnati three points on the night.
“It’s incredible,” said Mosquera after the match. “It’s beautiful, this game is very important to us. It’s great that we were able to win this game, and for me to score a goal, that is amazing. I’ve scored one once before in a U23 Wolves match, but this is my first goal as a professional.”
Mosquera and the Cincinnati backline continue to prove a strength, picking up their fourth shutout of the season and third 1-0 result over the last four matches.
“The group is very happy,” said Mosquera. “We work together and know how important it is to be on the same page. But the result is for everyone. Everyone on the field works together to help the backline and goalkeeper. Very happy to have a good result and keep the clean sheet.”
The Orange and Blue are back at TQL Stadium next Saturday, April 8 for a heavyweight bout against last year’s Eastern Conference winners, Philadelphia Union, at 7:30 p.m. ET. Tickets are available now at FCCincinnati.com/Tickets or by calling (513) 977-5425 (KICK).