FC Cincinnati 'a confident group' ahead of New England Revolution visit

·5 min read

Let there be no mistake that the May 11 meeting between FC Cincinnati and New England Revolution in the U.S. Open Cup is a different proposition than this weekend's meeting at TQL Stadium.

Both clubs played to win at Gillette Stadium on May 11, but they took different approaches to achieving the victory. FC Cincinnati's squad was heavily rotated and featured nine changes from the previous match.

New England, which had slid to the wrong end of the Eastern Conference standings, fielded a lineup that would be considered at or near its full capacities. That lineup remained on the field for about an hour that night, and proved a key factor in the Revolution's eventual five unanswered goals and 5-1 win.

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“We went for it too, we just didn't do it," FC Cincinnati head coach Pat Nooan said during a Thursday interview at the Mercy Health Training Center. "I understand what you're saying, but regardless of the personnel on the field, we had every intention to go in and win in that game. And we just didn't perform well enough to do that. We did see some of their regular starters on the field and the quality that they have.

FC Cincinnati manager Pat Noonan paces the sideline in the second half during an MLS soccer match against Toronto FC, Wednesday, May 4, 2022, at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati. FC Cincinnati won, 2-0.
FC Cincinnati manager Pat Noonan paces the sideline in the second half during an MLS soccer match against Toronto FC, Wednesday, May 4, 2022, at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati. FC Cincinnati won, 2-0.

"You can use that as a learning tool where you face the team less than two weeks later in league play, and now we have a chance to try to improve on some of the areas where they were able to exploit us. I think our group is looking forward to being on the field against this opponent and trying to show that maybe they didn't get our best on the on the evening. I think we still have a confident group to step on the field and continue our strong forming in league play in terms of results.”

When the clubs meet again Saturday in Cincinnati, league points will be on the line – the single-elimination matchup of less than two weeks ago will be of little use.

An FC Cincinnati team that's won four consecutive matches in Major League Soccer play will take on a club that is simultaneously the defending MLS Supporters Shield holder and also winless on the road in 2022.

More: FC Cincinnati crashes out of US Open Cup in 5-1 loss to New England Revolution

"You get to see live some of the tendencies from their group. Strengths, weaknesses that we think there are some that we can exploit. Certainly the challenges of one of the best players in our league in Carles (Gil) and his ability to get on the ball in dangerous spots and make the game," Noonan said.

"It's very tough to defend him and to understand how to communicate passing him on, so that we're not getting pulled out of our shape. That's certainly a challenge that we weren't able to effectively deal with in the first matchup and (Adam) Buksa in front of goal, he's a very good player in the box as far as finishing plays off, whether it's attacking crosses, from wider positions in the air, you saw that on their third goal, or just his overall movement and finding good spots, you saw that against Atlanta.

"He can make plays on his own. And so they're two players that we have to be mindful of, but they just do a really good job of spacing the field and moving the ball in ways where if if your pressure is broken, you have to be ready to defend the box. Because they'll put numbers in the box, they'll put crosses in the box, and they get good deliveries. We saw that firsthand, and now it's how do we improve in those moments, and certainly with those players?”

Gil netted a hat-trick against Cincinnati in the Open Cup while Buksa bagged two goals of his own.

FC Cincinnati will not only look to keep its winning streak alive but will be endeavor to solidify its position among the clubs in playoff positions through 13 matches.

New England, meanwhile, is digging out from a rough start to league play this season. The club is 3-5-3 in MLS in 2022, and has collected just two points away from Gillette Stadium.

Availability reports

Mostly, it's good news on the availability front for FC Cincinnati as Noonan announced Thursday that defender Ray Gaddis, midfielder Yuya Kubo and forward Brenner Souza da Silva are "full-go" physically.

Brenner, however, could be excluded from the team's plans in the short term due to a disciplinary issue.

Jul 17, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; FC Cincinnati forward Brenner Souza da Silva (9) reacts after scoring a goal against CF Montreal during the second half at Stade Saputo.
Jul 17, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; FC Cincinnati forward Brenner Souza da Silva (9) reacts after scoring a goal against CF Montreal during the second half at Stade Saputo.

Asked by The Enquirer to elaborate on the extent of the in-house disciplinary matter, Noonan declined to provide more details, saying the club was dealing with it internally.

“We'll keep it internal," "Noonan said. "It was a mistake and we'll again go day-by-day as far as what that looks like with availability. But we'll keep that internal.”

How much of a loss Brenner's absence would be for the team remains to be seen. He's shown glimpses of his flashy playmaking ability this year in limited minutes while battling a short preseason and injuries. But Brenner hasn't contributed much in the way of tangible end product, nor the traditional counting statistics (goals, assists).

Meanwhile, Kubo and Gaddis provide the possibility of giving the team depth it has sorely lacked in their absences even as the club has an ongoing four-match winning streak.

Ruled out for Saturday's match for FCC is Isaac Atanga (leg), Allan Cruz (leg), Calvin Harris (leg), and Alec Kann (lower body). Ronald Matarrita (ankle surgery) was weeks ago rules out for almost all of what remains of the 2022 season.

For New England, Matt Polster will miss the club's trip to Cincinnati due to a suspension for yellow card accumulation. Jozy Altidore (lower leg) and Gustavo Bou (upper leg) are both listed as questionable ahead of the game at TQL Stadium.

Altidore last played for New England May 7 while Bou hasn't appeared since the Revolution's March 16 Concacaf Champions League match against Pumas.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: FC Cincinnati 'a confident group' ahead of New England Revolution visit