Matchday Recap: FC Cincinnati at NYRB
Having lost the season opener last year 4-1 to the future league champion, Seattle Sounders, with a squad mixed with USL legends and MLS rejects, there was absolutely no chance this year could be just as bad for FC Cincinnati, right?
Well after 30 minutes, FCC found themselves down 2-0 already to the New York Red Bulls with the sinking feeling that a massacre was about to take center stage on a cold northeastern afternoon. Eventually ending 3-2, a tasteful loss, Sunday's 2020 premier was certainly a tale of two halves for the Orange and Blue.
Before the opening whistle blew, there was plenty of optimism and intrigue flowing around the team. Richey had beaten Tyton for the starting gig in between the sticks, Waston held his starting job secure next to van der Weff, and the wings looked brand new with Kubo and Regattin occupying those positions. With what looked to be our strongest lineup on paper, with the exception of Locadia and de Jong, both of which were known wouldn't be starting, it was about the furthest thing from strong as soon as the match got under way.
The first 14 minutes saw Richey's goal bombarded with shots and a team that couldn't catch their collective breath for more than a couple seconds. Richey was forced to make a couple saves during this span along with his defenders, who were forced into last ditch tackles in the box to block NYRB attempts. After completely missing the goal on a 1v1 just minutes earlier, Red Bulls right back Kyle Duncan opened the scoring in the 16th minute after Florian Valot was able to slide the ball across the box to find Duncan's deep run. It took just 11 minutes before New York found their second, which was finished by playmaker, Kaku.
Both goals saw Cincinnati's defense sliced open rather easily. On the first, the entire defense was found on the near side of the field, leaving the backside exposed to Duncan's surging run from his advanced defensive position. It looked as if Kubo was forced to track back to mark him in a desperate attempt after our midfield trio fell asleep for a moment, but was already too late. The second came as a result of Duncan winning a header from Richey's clearance, which again fell to Valot. Valot was able to cut inside on the edge of the 18, play a ball across towards Kaku, who again was left unmarked by the spectators in white on the pitch.
Cincinnati was able to hang on for the last 15 and escape the half only down 2-0, which had them counting their lucky stars that they weren't behind by more.
The second half saw a completely different team emerge from the locker room and one that didn't wait long to bring themselves back into the contest. Less than a minute into the second half, a thru ball down the line from Greg Garza found FC Cincinnati debutante, Brandon Vazquez, who was then able to dribble into the box and meg a defender to find Allan Cruz's crashing run to cut the deficit in half. An instant change to the game saw Cincy cut passing lanes on defense, create combinations, and lock down all over the field for the next 25 minutes.
However, FCC's second half dominance was brought to a screeching halt after NYRB found their third against the run of play from a counter attack in the 70th minute. Another chance created by Kyle Duncan was finished off by Daniel Royer after he weaved through Cincinnati's box and slotted it in the center of the net.
The rest of the second half was again dominated by Cincinnati, who saw star striker Jurgen Locadia make his debut just before NYRB's third. On Locadia's third shot on target and fourth overall, he brought the Orange and Blue back to a one goal game after the ball was pinballed in the middle of the field and rolled through towards Locadia, who converted a 1v1 with the Red Bull keeper after the first shot was initially saved.
FC Cincinnati had a couple more efforts after, but eventually came up empty handed. Had they played the first half like they did the second, the result very well could have been in Cincinnati's favor.
Cincy looks to build on their second half performance in six days when they play Atlanta United on the road, who will not be at full strength. Striker Josef Martinez tore his ACL on Saturday and is out for the season and defender Miles Robinson is in question for the contest as well. Some lineup changes will probably be coming FCC's way, with Locadia probably starting and de Jong's status likely situated.
FC Cincinnati is 0-0-1 on the season and in 8th place in the Eastern Conference after their first contest.