FC Cincinnati follows a well worn path from Cincinnati down to Central Florida today to face Orlando City FC in week 3 of MLS action. This is a match that earlier this week I wrote doesn’t matter. And you won’t find me backing down from that statement today. 

FC Cincinnati has already secured its place in the MLS history books with the longest losing streak in league history (14 matches going back to last year, the previous record was 12 matches) so there’s not much in the way of pride on the line. FCC has had a rough start to the season with a 5-0 loss to Austin FC and a 1-0 heartbreaking loss to DC United in the home opener last week. Orlando, on paper at least, is supposed to be a much stronger opponent than either of those two. Oh, a fun fact: FCC has never beat an MLS team from Florida. Fun!

Though, despite losing the last two, according to GameFlow FC Cincinnati actually won the expected goals battle. Insanity considering FCC hasn’t scored a goal yet this year. But this does suggest the team is much improved from last year, that head coach Pat Noonan’s tactics are working, and if players can keep their shots on frame success will follow. 

Orlando have one win and a draw so far in 2022 and have looked like the better team in both matches. In their last match they had a fantastic goal called back for a handball and they left Chicago with just a point. Still, going into this season Orlando had some buzz. Every outlet predicted them to make the playoffs, The Athletic considered their fanbase the most optimistic, and even had preseason buzz to be supporter shield winners. That’ll remain true until it isn’t.

Here is your three question preview of Orlando City vs FC Cincinnati

Three Question Preview

Will an attacker score for Cincy?

The Orange and Blue have been knocking on the door for two matches now but haven’t put one in. The law of averages, while seemingly not applicable to FC Cincinnati, ought to bail the team out and let one sneak in. Right? So who will it be and what will that tell us about this team? Brenner getting on the score sheet (after starting perhaps?) Would be a massive boost for this team. If FCC is going to be successful this season, it’s going to be because Brenner is bagging goals. He didn’t start the last two matches, so hopefully he finds his footing today. 

Otherwise it’s coming down to Dom Badji or Brandon Vazquez. Should one of them score, they’ll probably win a starting spot for the next few weeks. The competition is going to be who will start alongside Brenner, and goals drive the narrative. 

Lucho Acosta may not be an out-and-out striker but he is good for a handful of goals every season. Eventually he'll score at the end of one of those moves where he weaves between four defenders and curls one into a top corner. Right?

The Return of the Five? 

The story all offseason was Noonan was going to play in a 4-4-2 diamond come hell or high water. And what happened in Austin could be described as both hell and high water. Key injuries, and probably a desire not to give up another five goals, saw Noonan abandon the plan and roll out a back five. Ronaldo Mataritta is still questionable and Gustavo Vallecilla is as well. Junior Moreno and Yuya Kubo worked well behind Lucho Acosta and the outside backs of Ray Gaddis and Alvis Powell performed better than expected. It wasn’t a bad plan and they dominated the match against DC. So do we see the return of the tactic that performed the best? Or was that to stop the bleeding and the original plan will win out? We find out at 7:30!

Is a Clean Sheet Possible?

Sure, technically it’s possible. But do you know the last time FC Cincinnati kept a clean sheet? September 11th against Toronto FC. That’s 182 days. One hundred and eighty two days. 

That steak was set to end against DC last week until everyone’s favorite vaccine researcher was called for one of the softest handballs I’ve ever seen and Ola Kamara converted the ensuing penalty kick. 

Orlando has better players and better goalscorer than DC, so it is a tall task, but it would feel great. If the offensive won’t score goals, at least we can hope for a defense that won’t give them up. 

Expected Lineup

Here’s how I see things lining up. 

Prediction

2-1 loss to Orlando, but another one where fans feel like progress is being made