Match Preview: New York Red Bulls

Match Preview

The Orange and Blue will conclude MLS is Back Tournament group-stage play on Wednesday night against the New York Red Bulls.

Both teams enter the match with three points from their two opening matches, but FC Cincinnati currently sit third Group E based on goal differential. (New York is second.)

Here are the main storylines ahead of kickoff:

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Can FCC build off their last performance?

Cincinnati earned its first win of 2020 with a 1-0 victory over Atlanta United FC last Thursday morning. It was a result that reaffirmed that the team is progressing under head coach Jaap Stam, who’s been in charge for two matches.

Frankie Amaya’s first professional goal confirmed the win, while the side earned its first clean sheet since the 2019 regular season finale in October.

“I’d like to keep the defensive shape we had and to have a good result to keep up this mentality and defensive attitude,” Mathieu Deplagne said.

But Wednesday’s match is about more than building off last match. Can Cincinnati earn a different result against a New York side it faced in the 2020 season opener back in March?

Then, FCC struggled in the first half at Red Bull Arena, but delivered an attacking second half that produced two goals and momentum to build off.

“We know how they play, even from last year,” Deplagne said. “This is a team that has a specific game plan, so we know them well and it’s going to be a good game to test ourselves after Atlanta.”

It’s worth noting the two goal scorers against New York on March 1 – Allan Cruz and Jürgen Locadia – missed the Atlanta match. Locadia also didn’t play against Columbus Crew SC in FCC’s first MLS is Back Tournament game.

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FCC’s win changes the Group E landscape

Cincinnati and New York both have three points from two matches after both clubs beat Atlanta United FC in earlier in the group stage. Both also lost to Columbus Crew SC.

Stam said this tournament is basically a preseason competition as he tries to learn more about his players, but that doesn’t mean that FCC want to leave this competition anytime soon.

The win against Atlanta moved Cincinnati to third in the Group E standings with three points. New York Red Bulls have the same amount, but currently sit in second because of goal differential.

With the top two teams from each group automatically qualifying for the knockout, a win over NYRB would seal the second spot for Cincinnati.

If the clubs tie, FCC can still advance to the knockout round. The top four third-place finishers qualify for the tournament’s next round. Because NYCFC beat Inter Miami, 1-0, on Monday morning, FCC now need to earn at least a draw against the Red Bulls to advance to the next round of the MLS is Back Tournament.

“For us, it is an important game because we can go to the knockout stage after that,” Deplagne said. “Even with a good result, I think we’re probably going to the next stage. For us, it’s important to confirm the result against Atlanta.”

Continuing to grow from “little steps”

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Photo by Michael Millay.

“They’ve been looking for this little success – and I’m saying little, if you look at the game, it’s a big success – but it’s a small thing in a step going forward,” Stam said after Thursday’s win. “We still need to make a lot of steps, and we’re aware of that, but this is a good win, and I think if you look at the overall picture, you can say, ‘OK, maybe they deserved it as well.”

Essentially, this means, yes, the win was a big moment for the team and morale, but it’s one small achievement in what this club is trying to achieve.

After losing in the #HellisReal Derby, the instant reaction was focused on how would the team respond. It won, of course.

But how can the Orange and Blue build off a victory against Atlanta, and can they beat New York, a club they lost to four months ago?

Each match is a big moment in the immediacy, but how does it help the club inch closer to achieving long-term goals? That’s the overarching question for FCC in MLS’ new competition.

As a reminder, group stage matches count as regular-season games. Cincinnati has three points from four games in 2020.

Match Info:

FC Cincinnati against New York Red Bulls

Kickoff: Wednesday, 8 p.m.

Where: ESPN Wide World of Sports (Orlando, Fla.)

Weather: Mostly Cloudy, 84 Degrees (66% Humidity)

Broadcast Stream Info: ESPN and WatchESPN

Club Connections

- FC Cincinnati center back Hassan Ndam, who is currently on loan with The Miami FC, played for the New York Red Bulls and Red Bulls II in 2017 and 2018.                                    

- Joseph-Claude Gyau and Marc Rzatkowski played together for St. Pauli in 2013.

- Caleb Stanko and Amro Tarek played for SC Freiburg in 2012.

- When Tim Parker played for Vancouver Whitecaps FC from 2015-17, he was in the organization with Kekuta Manneh, Spencer Richey and Kendall Waston.