It’s not as if we weren’t expecting the growing pains, right?
FC Cincinnati’s 4-1 defeat to Seattle last Sunday may have been a historic day for the club, but it also served as a wake-up call to the current players and staff. This isn’t the USL anymore. Gone are the days where Cincinnati can expect to be favorites heading into every match. Perhaps that day will come. Until then, fans may be subjected to ultra-defensive performances and discouraging results at times.
And let’s be honest—this team hasn’t “clicked” yet. We don’t even know the best starting eleven at head coach Alan Koch’s disposal. It’s a difficult job for Koch, and it’s about to get that much harder. FC Cincinnati is set to face reigning MLS Cup champions, Atlanta United, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. In another nationally televised game, this time on ESPN, the Orange & Blue hope to earn their first MLS points.
- Although they have never met Atlanta United’s MLS squad, FCC battled Atlanta United 2 in the 2018 USL regular season. Cincinnati was victorious 4-2 last May thanks to an Emmanuel Ledesma brace. Two goals from Nazmi Albadawi led FCC to a 5-1 away win in late August.
- Similar to FCC’s roster overhaul, there’s a “new look” Atlanta United this year. Newcastle’s blockbuster transfer Miguel Almiron and MLS Coach of the Year Gerardo Martino are gone. In their places are big-name signings Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez, Eric Remedi, Brek Shea, Florentin Pogba, and head coach Frank de Boer.
- During Atlanta’s inaugural match of the season versus DC United, 42% of all their attacks came down the left flank (accessible at Whoscored.com). FCC may want to consider changing the right-sided partnership of Alvas Powell and Eric Alexander this Sunday, as it was a clear weakness against Seattle.
- The original goalkeeping hero for FC Cincinnati, Mitch Hildebrandt, retired this offseason after failing to feature for Atlanta’s first team. After leading the USL in saves for FCC in 2017, Hildebrandt struggled to claim Brad Guzan’s spot in the lineup while also dealing with knee injuries. As far as current connections are concerned, former Atlanta all-star Greg Garza was able to practice with the team on Thursday and should be available on Sunday.
- Late Wednesday night, Atlanta faced C.F. Monterrey on the road in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. The “Five Stripes” subsequently lost 3-0 while being outshot 17 to 5. Pity Martinez was the focus of most of Monterrey’s attention, getting fouled 10 times during the game. Atlanta fielded a strong lineup and could be subject to squad rotation this weekend.
Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage as Atlanta welcomes FC Cincinnati to their home opener and banner-raising ceremony.