Emmanuel Ledesma scratched his chin and tried to find the right words after the wrong result.
FC Cincinnati lost 4-1 to D.C. United on Thursday night at Nippert Stadium. It was a loss that finished lopsided, but at least for the first hour, was anything but.
When Ledesma buried a penalty to make it 1-1 in the 54th minute, it felt like the spark the club needed to grind out a third-consecutive match with at least a point. But what followed was two goals conceded in the next 10 minutes, then another nine minutes later. Thus, the 4-1 loss and the Orange and Blue are stuck believing in the future rather than celebrating their present.
“(I’m) so happy because I scored, but so sad because of the result,” Ledesma said. “We’re working so hard and they just arrived a couple times and score a goal. But we keep moving forward, we keep believing we can do better and then we have another battle on Sunday at home again.”
Truthfully, had FC Cincinnati earned a point Thursday night, discussions would still churn around the team having momentum. But the loss shouldn’t stop that.
What the home side showed against D.C. is that they can compete with the second-best team in the conference for an hour. What they need to do – rather quickly to make the MLS Playoffs – is prove they can sustain that across a full match. The players know that.
Perhaps that’s why no one offered any excuses after the game. Standing at their lockers, center backs Kendall Waston and Justin Hoyte simply said it has to get better and it will.
“I cannot blame any one of my teammates,” Waston said. “We couldn’t take the momentum when we scored from the PK. It is hard to lose this way at home because we were having that feeling we can win, we can win, but we have to keep our faith going.”
But the fact there’s another game looming Sunday night against the New England Revolution means there’s no time to belittle or overthink the match they just played. (That said, there wouldn’t have been much time for praise had they won, either.)
“Yes, that is the nice thing because there are not many days to look for revenge and take away this bad feeling,” Waston said.
Interim Head Coach Yoann Damet offered similar comments in his post-game press conference. Frustrated with the defeat but pleased with the character to continue playing in the final minutes, he said there’s little time to linger over the loss.
“It is nice from a mental standpoint because the guys, they want to revenge and they want to show that we can get the result for the fans and at home,” Damet said.
“From a physical standpoint, it’s a bit more difficult. It’s a very quick turnaround and we know the weather is going to be hot. We have two days to prepare, two days to recover and be ready to go on Sunday.”
With New England coming, it’s another opportunity for more points. After all, when the clubs last met, Cincinnati won 2-0 at Gillette Stadium for the franchise’s first MLS road win. If FCC can do the double against the Revs, points dropped against the second team in the east won’t seem so significant.