Nippert Stadium sounded stunned.
FC Cincinnati were in a heap after block after block, then goal after goal.
If the first 40 minutes of Friday night’s match against Real Salt Lake were some of the best minutes the Orange and Blue have produced in MLS, the next five minutes were their undisputed worst.
Two goals conceded in two minutes ended the game. The following 45 minutes, which contained an initial onslaught from Cincinnati, finished with a third goal allowed and, eventually, a 3-0 home defeat.
For the first time in MLS, FCC have lost back-to-back games. In their last four matches, they’ve lost three times and only have a singular goal from that.
That’s not to take away from the club creating attacking chances and defending well collectively. It simply shows that in the biggest moments, FC Cincinnati haven’t been able to punish opponents the way they’ve been punished themselves.
“Tonight sucks,” Head Coach Alan Koch said.
Koch acknowledged the good moments and the bad. He highlighted the club creating chances as a positive. After all, Cincinnati had 14 shots Friday night. He also said they need to be converted.
Only one was on target.
Perhaps that’s what made the loss to Real Salt Lake feel like the worst yet.
When FC Cincinnati beat the New England Revolution on the road on March 24, the club started the first four matches with seven points. If they would’ve beaten the Philadelphia Union in game five, those 10 points overall would’ve been the best start for any first-year club in MLS history.
But in the four games since, the Orange and Blue have only collected one point. Their next three matches span eight days and are on the road. Of the next eight games, six are away from Nippert.
It’s simply going to get harder before it gets easier. So, on Friday night when Cincinnati looked likely to score and pick up their first win this month, they instead conceded twice and left with nothing.
“Tonight was very disappointing,” Koch said. “Almost is not good enough.”
Roughly 30 minutes after the match, the mood in the locker room wasn’t disappointment as much as frustration. The moments were there to seize the game – until they weren’t.
“It’s frustrating to feel like you’re on top of the game,” center back Nick Hagglund said. “So when they scored, you could see the momentum shift there.
“I felt like we were fluid, especially in possession especially in the first part of the game where we were creating attacks from the back to the front. If we could continue that, that’s a bright spot. The other half is we can’t get too happy with how we were doing and get exposed in the back.
“Our character has to stay true to what we were doing the first 40 minutes rather than lose our heads in it.”