In a must-win game, the New York Red Bulls travel to Cincinnati to face off against FC Cincinnati in their 32nd MLS regular season match. The Red Bulls have a lot of work to do as they get ready for kick-off at TQL Stadium against the recent Supporters’ Shield winners.
New York holds the overall record over Cincinnati at 4-3-3 including a 2-0-1 record at TQL Stadium since their inaugural season in 2019.
This season, Cincinnati holds the advantage with a 1-1-0 record across all competitions with their most recent match against New York resulting in a 2-1 win.
This will be one of New York’s toughest tests of the season as they go up against the best team in the MLS. With 65 points on the season currently, Cincinnati claimed the Supporters’ Shield with a record of 19-8-4. Cincinnati is on a four-game unbeaten streak with their most recent loss dating back to September 2nd. Cincinnati is ranked third in goal difference (18,) scoring 53 goals this season and conceding 35.
What To Watch For
The best way to win games is to score goals, which is something the Red Bulls have struggled to do all season. One player who has stood out in the goal-scoring category is midfielder Omir Fernandez. Fernandez leads the team with 8 goals, a career-high for him in a single season. He also recorded two goals against Cincinnati in his career and was the lone scorer in New York’s last meeting with the Supporters’ Shield Winners.
New York has developed a habit of conceding goals off of set pieces this year which has cost them wins or even ties that should have been wins. Team captain Sean Nealis explained how avoiding set pieces is key to their success.
“In four of the last five games, we’ve conceded on set pieces,” Nealis said. “We have to attack the ball and not let it come to us.”
The Red Bulls plan to pressure Cincinnati and keep the ball in their half for the majority of the game. Facing the top team in the Eastern Conference is no easy task, but New York is determined to stay alive in the playoff race.
“I think we need to consistently play in their end,” Nealis said. “We did that this year. We let [Luciano] Acosta get on second balls, and grow his confidence. We have to not let him get into or dictate the match.”
Midfielder Luciano Acosta is tied for the lead in goals scored this season across the entire MLS with 15 goals.
What Is At Stake
With seven teams still fighting for the last two wild card spots in the Eastern Conference, the Red Bulls face potential elimination Wednesday night.
Here are potential elimination scenarios that New York Faces October 4th:
A Red Bulls loss against Cincinnati, with a Montreal win over Houston, and a Chicago FC win over Inter Miami CF.
A Red Bulls loss against Cincinnati, with a Montreal win over Houston, and a DC win over Austin FC.
Although a loss does not ultimately eliminate New York from Playoff contention, a win over Cincinnati is crucial.
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