The road has been mostly unkind to FC Cincinnati since it entered MLS last year, and the Orange-and-Blue face a tough challenge bucking that trend Saturday when they face New York City FC.
FC Cincinnati (2-5-3) has endure the expected teething pains of a young franchise, struggling to claim points on the road while getting offensive production that can be generously labeled inconsistent. FCC have taken just 12 points from their first 21 top-flight road matches (3-3-15) and have been outscored 50-19 in those contests.
This year added the COVID-19 pandemic on top of those challenges for first-year coach Jaap Stam, who has watched his team fail to break through outside Nippert Stadium. FC Cincinnati has lost all four of its road games, including a 3-0 defeat at East-leading Columbus on Sunday in the latest installment of the “Hell is Real” derby in which all three goals came after halftime.
“Both goals happen with something that I think we could’ve prevented,” Stam said of the opening two goals to the club’s official website. “We know it’s a difficult game, but if we are giving away easy goals, then we make it very difficult to get back into the game … We couldn’t bring in the second half what we did in the first one. That also has to do with the disappointment of conceding those two goals.”
While the defense had uncharacteristic breakdowns, the offense continues to be a slog. FC Cincinnati has not scored a goal in Phase One of the league’s reworked schedule and is enduring a goalless drought of 484 minutes dating back to an own goal by New York’s Florian Valot in FCC’s 2-0 win over the Red Bulls on July 22.
The Orange and Blue had a scoreless spell of 528 minutes last year which is the sixth-longest in MLS history.
New York City FC (4-5-1) usually has a home-pitch advantage playing on the narrow field at Yankee Stadium, but that has been lessened to a degree in 2020 playing at derby rival Red Bull Arena. The Bronx Blues have gained their bearings across the Hudson, though, and are looking to run their unbeaten streak to five matches.
NYCFC were denied a fourth straight victory Sunday but did claim a point with a frustrating scoreless draw at D.C. United. It was one-way traffic in the nation’s capital for the full 90 minutes as the Pigeons took 19 shots, nine corner kicks, and five shots on target without allowing United any shots – the first time since 2017 that took place.
“The team did well. It was a tough formation and team to play against because they were so deep,” NYCFC coach Ronny Deila told the team’s official website, “we’re a little bit sad not to take the three points but it’s not easy playing away with 10 players in the box.”
It was the third clean sheet in five matches for NYCFC following its quarterfinal exit at MLS Is Back, and they have conceded just two goals in that stretch. The Bronx Blues are seeking their first streak of three shutouts since recording four in a row from July 8-26, 2018.
NYCFC swept aside FC Cincinnati in the two meetings last year by a combined 9-3 count. Heber had four of the goals while Valentin Castellanos contributed two – both in the 4-1 victory in the most recent meeting.