After a three-week international break, FC Cincinnati looks to earn its first points at TQL Stadium on Saturday against the Colorado Rapids. This match also marks the first time that a full capacity crowd is allowed into TQL, with Laurel Pfahler at Queen City Press noting that the match is on pace to sell out. A capacity crowd of 26,000 fans would be the largest crowd either side has played in front of since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite playing two competitive matches to open TQL with limited capacity crowds, the Orange and Blue suffered a pair of one-goal defeats to Inter Miami CF and the New England Revolution. However, sandwiched in-between these two home losses, FC Cincinnati picked up three points on the road against CF Montreal. With the winning goal in all three of these matches coming in the 70th minute or later, FCC fans should expect more high-intensity soccer and a loud environment in the matchup against the Rapids.
FC Cincinnati enters this fixture against the Rapids with four points earned in its first six matches and still finds itself at the bottom of both the Eastern Conference and MLS tables. Although FC Cincinnati has also played the fewest number of matches out of any Eastern Conference team (and are tied with Real Salt Lake for fewest number of matches played in MLS), it has still conceded 15 goals this season, the most by any club. This statistic, however, does not tell the full story. When center backs Geoff Cameron and Gustavo Vallecilla are in the starting lineup, FCC has only allowed 1.66 goals per match, significantly down from 3.33 goals per match with the duo not on the pitch.
Additionally, FC Cincinnati is hoping to continue to build offensively. The Orange and Blue have scored six goals in six games to begin the 2021 MLS season. However, all six goals have been scored by different players. Even though FCC still does not have a player with multiple goals scored this season, the same cannot be said for assists. Thanks to some fantastic through balls and aerial passes, left wingback Ronald Matarrita already has three assists for FC Cincinnati this season, tied for the third-most in MLS. Mattarrita is also the only player besides fellow wingback Joseph-Claude Gyau to play every minute so far this season for FC Cincinnati.
The Colorado Rapids enter Saturday’s match with 13 points through seven matches played and find themselves fourth in the Western Conference standings. Despite entering this match as one of the top clubs in the Western Conference, there is a notable difference between the Rapids performance at home and their performance on the road. Colorado is 3-1-0 at home but 1-1-1 away, something that could work to the advantage of FCC in front of a capacity crowd. Furthermore, the Rapids have scored 12 goals to begin their 2021 MLS campaign, the fourth most in Major League Soccer. The biggest threat for the Colorado Rapids attack is forward Michael Barrios, who has scored two goals and has also assisted on two goals. After only scoring one goal across 21 matches played for FC Dallas in 2020, Barrios appears to be regaining his form during his first season with the Rapids.
The Rapids defense has also played consistently, only allowing eight goals to be scored against it in seven games. Goalkeeper William Yarbrough has earned three clean sheets, tied for the second-most in Major League Soccer, and defenders Keegan Rosenberry, Auston Trusty, and Danny Wilson have played every minute so far this season for the Rapids, helping to provide consistency for Colorado’s backline.
Here are three things to watch for against the Colorado Rapids:
1) Does someone for FC Cincinnati establish himself as the primary goal scorer? The obvious answer here would be Brenner, the 21 year-old Brazilian striker who scored 21 goals for Sao Paulo FC across all competitions during its 2020-21 season. However, Brenner has only one goal so far this season and has yet to score in open play. Other answers here could be Luciano Acosta or wingers Alvaro Barreal and Jurgen Locadia.
2) How does FC Cincinnati’s defense hold up against a strong Colorado Rapids attack? Colorado already has eight different goal scorers in just seven games, with three players scoring multiple goals. With a variety of players able to put the ball in the back of the net for the Rapids, FCC’s backline will not have the luxury of shutting down just one or two players to stall the opposing attack. Chemistry between members of FCC’s backline will play a major role in determining the outcome of this game.
3) Can the fans push the Orange and Blue to their second victory this season? Playing in front of a full capacity stadium in Cincinnati for the first time in over 20 months could be the spark that this team needs to earn three points and build upon the small successes that the club has experienced this season. Brenner has noted that the fans are “crucial for our development in the game” and that “it gets better every time”. If Brenner thinks the crowd has been loud up to this point, it will be interesting to hear his thoughts after playing in front of a full capacity crowd in the Queen City.
How to Watch
7:30 p.m. Saturday, TQL Stadium
Local TV – WSTR Star 64
In region video stream – fccincinnati.com/stream
Out of region video stream – ESPN+
Local Radio – ESPN 1530
Audio Stream – iHeartRadio App