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NYCFC II beat Cincinnati 2 on penalties in first game since June 12

The Baby Blues are undefeated since crashing out of the 2024 US Open Cup to New Mexico United of USL Championship.

Courtesy NewYorkCityFC

After nearly a month out of action, NYCFC II returned to MLS NEXT Pro play and beat FC Cincinnati 2 in penalties after a 1-1 draw in regulation time. Cincinnati came into this match on a four-game win streak, and with nine wins out of their last ten. NYCFC II boasted similarly hot form as they won their last three matches — albeit with a month’s rest in between. 


NYCFC II: 13 shots, 6 shots on target, 50% possession, 342 passes, 80% pass accuracy, 13 fouls, 5 saves

FC Cincinnati 2: 13 shots, 6 shots on target, 50% possession, 345 passes, 83% pass accuracy, 15 fouls, 5 saves

• NYCFC II, Taylor Calheira, 30'
• FC Cincinnati 2, Guilherme Santos 59'

Chances early

Within the first ten minutes of play, both teams had good opportunities to take the lead. NYCFC II’s Taylor Calheira saw his snapshot from 10 yards out easily saved in the fourth minute while Cincinnati's Guilherme Santos's open header in the 10th minute went wide left.

NYCFC II should have taken the lead in the 18th minute when Chris Leong’s point-blank header off a corner was acrobatically saved by Cincinnati 2 keeper Evan Louro, who thighed onto the crossbar and out.

The Baby Blues took the lead ten minutes later when, in the 29th minute, Samuel Owusu found Calheira who expertly spun away from two defenders and slotted the ball easily into the net for the 1-0 lead. That strike marked Calheira’s fifth straight match with a goal.

The remainder of the half saw both teams get into promising positions but without any finishing product. Through 45 minutes the visitors held the deserved 1-0 lead through Calheira’s 29th minute strike. NYCFC II held 46% possession with both teams having seven shots, NYC with four on target to Cinci’s three. 

Sloppy passing let Cincinnati in the game

The second half was mostly a stalemate however in the 59th minute, Cincinnati 2 tied the game up as a loose pass by Owusu and a loose touch by Rozhansky allowed the home team to easily counter. The ball found Amir Daley on the right wing who delivered a low cross to Santos who easily slotted the ball away from six yards out to tie the game at one goal apiece.

The game remained cagey. In the 86th minute, an extremely late tackle on NYCFC II’s Ronald Arevalo by London Aghedo yielded his second yellow and put Cincinnati down to 10 men for the final couple of minutes. The Baby Blues couldn’t take advantage of being a man up and the match headed to penalties.

A point earned from penalties

After ending 1-1, the game turned to penalties to award the final point per MLS NEXT Pro rules. Both teams made their first three shots with Piero Elias, Taylor Calheira, and penalty substitute Azzam Ruiz sending Louro the wrong way. Shooting fourth, Maximo Carrizo saw his attempt parried out by Louro. But the team were quickly redeemed by NYCFC keeper William Meyer making a save of his own.

Tied at three penalties each going into the final round, Owusu easily slotted his spot kick. He set up Meyer to be the goalkeeping hero when he saved Vinci's Brian Schaefer’s attempt, sending the Baby Blues home with an additional point.

NYCFC II now sit in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 24 points through 13 games but has multiple games in hand on the teams above them. Their 1.85 points per game is fourth-best in the Eastern Conference so watch out for a rise up the standings — and a potential first playoff appearance for NYCFC II.