A late offensive flurry to close the first half wasn’t enough for FC Cincinnati in their 2-0 defeat to Atlanta United FC on Sunday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Here are the takeaways from the loss:
Stam: “The two goals that we are conceding are too easy.”
A bright start quickly unraveled in the eighth minute when a defensive mishap allowed Adam Jahn to roam free in the box and score the opening goal. The deficit doubled in the 26th minute when Marcelino Moreno converted a penalty following a clumsy foul inside the box.
That was the setting for the remainder of the match, when Cincinnati had possession for large chunks of the final hour, but couldn’t use it efficiently.
“It's disappointing, we keep saying it,” head coach Jaap Stam said. “We spoke at halftime, in the second half you’re hoping you can push on a little bit more. At times, you did control the game a little bit more, but we don't get too dangerous, I think, in front of goal. A couple of set pieces. A couple of one-v-ones from the side with (Jürgen Locadia) and with (Joseph-Claude Gyau), but not enough to see that they're waiting to come out the break a couple of times.
“Today was, in terms of creating and finishing, we had our opportunities, but we were not decisive enough. Then, the two goals that we are conceding are too easy.”
Including blocked shots, FCC produced 14 shots against Atlanta. From that, nine were from inside the 18-yard box. But none were too difficult for USMNT goalkeeper Brad Guzan, and Cincinnati have failed to score in their last three games.
The Orange and Blue are eliminated from the playoffs
The loss sealed the team’s second consecutive last-place finish in MLS. With one match remaining, FC Cincinnati have 16 points and are the only team that won’t earn at least 21 points during the 23-game regular season.
FCC have 11 goals through 22 games – meaning they’re averaging one every other game, but that’s inflated from a few multi-goal games. The simple fact is this team might create chances, but it can’t convert them. That’s been a theme throughout 2020 that lingered into the loss in Atlanta.
“Everybody wants to score, but I never experienced this in my career,” Haris Medunjanin said. “I don’t know what to tell you.”
Back in 2016, Cincinnati created a lot of chances that it never finished. At the time, former head coach John Harkes kept reminding the media that the important thing was the team could generate chances to begin with. If players could create them, they would inevitably finish them.
The FCC of 2020 are proving otherwise.
“It's just the finishing,” Medunjanin said. “Everybody would be in panic if we don't create chances, but I think every game we create a lot of chances. We dictate the tempo, especially if you play against the MLS Cup winner in their home. You have the ball all the time, but you need to do something with the ball. Still, we created in the first half a couple of chances. In the second half, also. If you score one goal, it gives you a little bit of hope, but we don't score.”
Vazquez: “We don’t want to end the season this way.”
With playoff dreams dashed, FCC officially have nothing to play for but pride in their final match next weekend.
“We have one last game of the season and we don't want to end the season this way,” Brandon Vazquez said. “We're going to go out next weekend and give it our all, because that's all we can do right now. Of course, it's a little disappointing the way we haven't gotten any points recently. But, I think it's just the team needs that hunger. With one game left, that's all that we can push forward and look forward to end the season with three points.”
What comes next
Cincinnati concludes the 2020 season next Sunday against Inter Miami CF in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This will be the first meeting between the clubs, and the last game FCC will play until 2021.