After a scoreless draw against the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday night, FC Cincinnati play their second match in four days on Saturday when they face New York City FC at Red Bull Arena. It’ll be the second time the teams have played in the venue this month.
Here’s what you need to know before kickoff:
FCC hoping to extend their unbeaten streak
The Orange and Blue have earned four points and two clean sheets in their last two games, which should provide momentum entering Saturday night’s game.
The backline has been sound defensively, while the midfield buoyed the attack going forward to create opportunities. While those chances were limited in the draw against the Union on Wednesday, they helped Cincinnati beat the New York Red Bulls, 1-0, last Saturday night.
Head coach Jaap Stam said NYCFC are a difficult opponent, but the team is confident approaching kickoff.
“(NYCFC) have got good players, and they’ve shown that in the past as well,” Stam said. “We’ve shown over there, especially in the second half, we can make it difficult for them. It’s going to be an interesting game. We’re looking forward to playing again after that win and after that draw. There’s still a very good feeling within the team.”
In the previous match against NYCFC, a 2-1 loss on Sept. 12, a pass from Haris Medunjanin to Brandon Vazquez helped FCC break a 558-minute scoreless drought. Following the goal, Vazquez nearly scored the equalizer but his effort was disallowed and ruled offside.
The final regular-season match at Red Bull Arena in 2020 (finally)
Saturday marks the third time this month that FC Cincinnati will play in Red Bull Arena. This will also be the fourth game in the stadium this season, which is as many home games as FCC have played at Nippert Stadium in 2020.
Given the familiarity with playing in Harrison – and the matchday travel conditions – that should play into Cincinnati’s favor against an NYCFC side playing in their rival’s home venue. That being said, Stam said it’s still a difficult trip.
“Again, a trip to New York, which is not the easiest of doing (by) being on the road and in the same place and against the team teams,” Stam said.
Cruz: “Hopefully we can start scoring goals.”
FCC’s eight goals through 13 games is the fewest in the league and will need to improve now that the Orange and Blue are officially in the hunt for postseason play.
While the defense has shown it can limit opposing frontlines with seven clean sheets in the last 10 league games, only three of those matches finished with Cincinnati victories. Two of those were in July during the MLS is Back Tournament.
“I believe the team is doing well,” said Allan Cruz, who led FCC in scoring in 2019. “We need to be calmer in front of goal, but the team is playing better than we were playing before, especially last season.”
“As for myself and other substitutes, we come into the game with fresh legs, so we need to make sure we can contribute offensively in the game. Hopefully chemistry builds as we keep creating chances. (We need to) convert those chances, and hopefully we can start scoring some goals.”
Cruz scored FCC’s first goal in 2020 – at Red Bull Arena – in the season opener against the Red Bulls.
Of course, lot can change between now and the season finale on Nov. 8, but it’s worth remembering the points are just as valuable now as they will be in six weeks.
Cincinnati currently sits one spot below the playoff line in 11th place with 13 points. Atlanta United FC are in 10th with 14 points.
FC Cincinnati at New York City FC
Kickoff: Satuday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Red Bull Arena (Harrison, N.J.)
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.