The Orange and Blue close out the initial phase of the league’s continuation of the regular season on Saturday night when they face New York City FC at Red Bull Arena.
Here are the top storylines ahead of kickoff:
Medunjanin: “You need to believe”
As FC Cincinnati search for their first win since the MLS is Back Tournament, midfielder Haris Medunjanin said the team has shown glimpses of quality, but it needs to string good performances together.
“Of course, it’s a little bit difficult right now, but you need to believe,” Medunjanin said. “We have a good team and we showed that also in Orlando. We can play against good teams, but you need to maintain that during games. It’s not just one or two games.”
After winning two-straight matches during the MLS is Back Tournament group stage, FCC have shown visible progress, but that growth has included growing pains, too. After earning three scoreless draws at Nippert Stadium, the club’s last match was a disappointing 3-0 loss in the #HellisReal Derby.
With that match in the past – and the longest gap between matches the team’s had in a month – Cincinnati should be refreshed entering Red Bull Arena.
“You get to concentrate a bit on the tactical and the physical,” Greg Garza said about having more recovery time. “We’re able to recover a bit more physically and also pay attention a bit to what New York will do. I believe we have an extra few days to go through that tactically and move pieces around and see what we can do best to outplay them as much as possible, and hopefully get a victory there.”
Matchup with NYCFC will be difficult
While NYCFC are seventh in the Eastern Conference standings, that underestimates a side that’s unbeaten in its last four matches – including a road win at league-leading Columbus Crew SC.
“It’s going to be a tough match,” Medunjanin said. “New York (City) is a good team, and we are struggling a little but right now, so we need to bounce back. It’s on us to show we can get some points away from home. We’ve been preparing ourselves this week and hopefully we’re ready. We should be ready for this matchup.”
Don’t forget: NYCFC’s 2020 roster is similar to the 2019 squad that finished first in the Eastern Conference standings before crashing out early in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
“They’ve got a very good team and a good run of results after Orlando coming back out of the bubble,” Stam said. “They’ve got a lot of individuals with quality also. They play some very good football and they’ve got a team with pace and are unpredictable at times.”
Stam: “We need to put them in the net”
The Orange and Blue are currently in the midst of the league’s longest scoring streak this season – and 10th all time.
FCC have gone 484 minutes without scoring despite the attacking chances they’ve created since their in-market return. Stam said the chances have been good enough, but the finishing needs to be better.
“Every game we create opportunities to score goals,” the coach said. “The only thing is we need to put them in the net. That was lacking … We need to work hard to work together as a team to get everything out of it and hopefully get our points and hopefully start winning games.
“We need to step up and show ourselves in these decisive moments as well to make sure we’re going to have three points instead of one.”
FC Cincinnati at New York City FC
Kickoff: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Where: Red Bull Arena (Harrison, N.J.)
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 70 Degrees
TV: WSTR Star 64
In-Market Stream: www.fccincinnati.com/stream
Out-of-Market Stream: ESPN+
Local Radio: WDJO 99.5 FM | 107.9 FM | 1480 AM
Audio Stream: TuneIn App, fccincinnati.com
Allan Cruz and Kendall Waston have played alongside Ronald Matarrita for the Costa Rica National Team.
Strength and conditioning coach Austin Berry played with Sean Johnson for the Chicago Fire in 2012 and 2013.