"We took it to another level defensively" - Orange and Blue lean on strong backline in win over Seattle

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FC Cincinnati earned a hard-fought three points against the Seattle Sounders on a chilly Saturday night in front of a sold-out crowd of 25,513 at TQL Stadium. Brenner netted his first goal of the season as a 10-man Orange and Blue squad held Seattle at bay for their second win of the season.

“That was a really professional win for our group,” said Head Coach Pat Noonan following the match. “We were able to beat a really good team and I think both teams could feel that this was a good early test.”

The Orange and Blue are off to their best start since joining MLS in 2019, picking up seven points through three matches and sitting third in the Eastern Conference with an unbeaten record.

“It was going to be important to have a good performance and win against a strong team, a strong opponent,” said Noonan. “This result doesn’t mean much if we can’t go and replicate a lot of the things that we did tonight when we go on the road and play Chicago. The challenge is to not think we're better than we are, or we've accomplished anything. We just need to continue to build on good early results.”

Brenner’s goal is the first for Cincinnati’s dangerous attacking trio with Junior Moreno and Luciano Acosta assisting the Brazilian forward to put the Orange and Blue ahead in the 63rd minute.

“It's good to see your goal scorer scoring goals, and that was Brenner tonight,” said Noonan. “Two games go by and our front three hadn’t scored a goal and you could feel the pressure was there for them to score. Of course, others are going to expect to see them score in every game, but I thought Brandon, his mentality, and a lot of the things that he did outside to find himself on the scoresheet, were excellent. Lucho, through three games, has been just as important defensively as he has been on the ball.”

And through three matches, FC Cincinnati have been one of the best defensive units in the league, allowing just one goal and earning their second straight shutout against the Saturday night.

“Defensively, whether we’re playing at home or on the road, if it looks like that, we're going to be tough to break down,” said Noonan. “That’s three games now where we have conceded no goals out of the run of play and one on a set piece. We understand that when we defend well, it also leads to some really good transition moments, and it leads to us controlling tempo with how we pass.”

Matt Miazga, who has started every match for the Orange and Blue since joining the club in August from Chelsea FC, has played every minute of this young season and has played a major role in helping reshape the look of the backline.

“I think the team is really clicking right now,” said Miazga postgame. “Now we have a system, we have a philosophy, and we all understand it. I know what the right center back needs to be doing, I know what the left center back needs to be doing and I know what I need to be doing. When that all comes together, when we are communicating and we are focused, it should all be like clockwork.”

Miazga and the Cincinnati backline held a dangerous attacking Sounders side to just one shot on goal a week after accomplishing the same feat against Orlando City SC. Entering Saturday night, Seattle entered the league first in goals (6), expected goals created (6.71) and shots on target (17).

“It means a lot that we were able to get a shutout, especially after going down to 10 men,” commented Miazga. “I think it gives us confidence going in front of our home fans, being aggressive in the first half, winning balls, creating chances and keeping possession.”

Ray Gaddis also went the full 90 in his second consecutive start, playing opposite of Álvaro Barreal at right wing back as the Orange and Blue continues to gel across the backline.

“It’s still early in the season, but I think we are all comfortable with each other,” said Gaddis following the win. “We have the mentality here that’s it’s just the next man up. Coach Noonan put some goals up on the board for us and we are taking it one game at a time.”

The win hands the Sounders their first loss of the season and breaks Seattle’s two-match shutout streak.

“I think this is a big win for the club,” said Gaddis. “They are a sound organization and I think it’s big that we took on one of the juggernauts of the league. We should be proud of the performance today but have to remember it’s just one game.”

FC Cincinnati head back on the road next week as they face Chicago Fire FC at Soldier Field on March 18. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. CT on Apple TV via MLS Season Pass and over the radio locally on ESPN 1530.

The Orange and Blue’s next game at home in front of the Bailey and rocking TQL Stadium is set for April 1 when Inter Miami CF come to town. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at fccincinnati.com/tickets or by calling (513) 977-5425 (KICK).