The games change, the opponents change, the venues change, but the story for NYCFC recently tends to remain the same.
The team looks tantalizingly close to becoming one of the top contenders for MLS Cup, yet has only won one of their last five matches. NYCFC plays aesthetically pleasing soccer, but a defensive mistake, missed chances, or a red card tends to turn results negative. Given their recent run of form, NYCFC finds itself just two points above the playoff line, albeit with a game in hand over most of its opponents heading into tonight’s match in Cincinnati.
Despite having great support and a beautiful stadium, life hasn’t been easy for FC Cincinnati since they joined MLS. They find themselves second to last in the Eastern Conference, and only just got their first win at TQL Stadium a week ago against Toronto FC. In between, they traveled to Atlanta for a midweek 4-0 loss.
On paper, this should be a win for NYCFC. The last time these two teams played, City won 5-0, and this was before significant strengthening mid-season in the transfer window. However, the Boys in Blue have struggled to have much success on the road at all. In fact, they have not won in seven straight games away from New York/New Jersey. While Cincinnati is not a strong team, there is no doubt that given NYCFC’s recent road form, this is not an automatic three points.
When the Night Owls have struggled at times over the last couple of years, it has largely been down to not taking their chances. Surprisingly, the issue of late has been on the defensive side of the ball. The usually consistent back line has leaked 8 goals in the last three matches, a stunning development. In order to bring three points back to New York, the backline will need to get back to its best and mitigate chances for Cincinnati, who do have some quality in attack.
Taty Castellanos should return to the starting eleven after missing Tuesday night’s match through suspension. NYCFC will be without Thiago and Santi Rodriguez, two important pieces in the attack. FC Cincinnati have been prone to defensive mistakes all season, so I do expect goals from Castellanos and company. Look for Talles Magno to shift back to the left side after starting and scoring at center forward during the week. Jesus Medina should retain his spot on the right side of the attack after a goal and assist against FC Dallas.
This is a vital match for NYCFC and one that any real title contender should expect to win. With two matches against the Red Bulls upcoming next week — which promise to be tense battles — NYCFC need to build some momentum going in. Despite recent results, especially on the road, I expect them to come away with a win against FC Cincinnati, as ultimately the quality and cohesiveness of the squad is simply better than the opponent.
Feel free to comment your thoughts and predictions for tonight’s match below!