FC Cincinnati (4-8-13, 20 points) saw their losing streak reach three games on Saturday night at Audi Field, struggling to stop early goals in a 4-2 loss to D.C. United. While the team had its opportunities down the stretch, set pieces and bad luck played roles in keeping the deficit too large to overcome.
With both Alvaro Barreal and Isaac Atanga out due to red cards, FCC rolled out a 5-3-2 attack that called in Zico Bailey to play left back. This drew Luciano Acosta up to play alongside Brenner, while Caleb Stanko came in to play a defending center midfielder role.
D.C. United (11-4-11, 37 points) capitalized early on fouls and pressure around the box. Julian Gressel played a give-and-go on a corner kick in the 7th minute, beating Zico Bailey before threading a pass to Paul Arriola to make it 1-0.
The Black and Red beat FCC again in the 21st minute with a set piece and players finding themselves unable to react quickly enough. Gressel’s set piece near midfield caught the defense napping, and Steve Birnbaum’s header in the box floated over Przemyslaw Tyton’s late charge to make it 2-0.
FCC was almost able to take advantage of ricochets in the first half. Allan Cruz was able to grab a deflection deep in the opponents’ half in the 27th minute, only for Donovan Pines to dispossess him with a fine tackle. History repeated in the 36th minute—Luciano Acosta managed to pounce on a bad pass backwards, but Cruz’s shot was again snuffed by goalkeeper Bill Hamid. Acosta’s follow up clanged against the far post to keep it 2-0.
The momentum swing in the 41st minute was the dagger for FCC. Gressel again found room outside the box for a cross, and the deflection from Edison Flores found Arriola’s right foot for the 3-0 lead. It was Arriola’s third goal of the season.
The damage did not stop in the second half, primarily due to a late call that forced a lapse in defensive judgement. Nigel Robertha beat the last line of FCC’s defense in the 72nd minute and was flagged for offsides, only to continue the play and bash the ball past Tyton. While FC Cincinnati was burned with a similar call against New York City FC last week, this time VAR worked in favor of the goal. Even though the linesman raised his flag before the play ended, referee Chris Penso overruled the call, awarding the goal to DC United to make it 4-0.
Despite the deep hole to traverse, FC Cincinnati was given opportunities to make the game more respectable in the end, mostly from the foot of Brandon Vasquez. Seconds after he was subbed into the game for Yuya Kubo, Vasquez scored his first goal in MLS play, receiving a deflected cross in the box to curl a left-footed shot into the corner in the 80th minute.
Vasquez’s deep challenge against Hines in the 84th minute separated the defender from the ball to put more pressure on the box. Acosta received a pass from Vasquez to deposit a ricochet of his own into the back of the net to make it 4-2. The goal was Acosta’s fifth of the year.
The offensive production turned out to be too little and too late. While the numbers were respectable when it came to possession (54% to 46%), FCC was outgunned in shots (15-19) and shots on goal (5-8). Neither of the goals from FCC rattles the expected production, as D.C. United held a strong 2.8-0.8 advantage in that category.
The loss drops FC Cincinnati into risky territory, only one point ahead of both Austin and Toronto in the overall standings. However, the Orange and Blue have the opportunity to keep Toronto behind them in the rear-view mirror in their next game, a Wednesday night away match over the Canadian border. Toronto managed to gain an away point last night in a 0-0 draw against Colorado.
Matchday 25 – D.C. United vs. FC Cincinnati
Audi Field, Washington, D.C.
Result: D.C. United 4, FC Cincinnati 2.
D.C. United Starting XI (3-4-2-1):
Bill Hamid (GK), Andy Najar (Fredric Brillant 46’), Steve Birnbaum, Donovan Pines; Julian Gressel, Russel Canouse (Felipe 46’), Junior Moreno, Kevin Paredes (Griffin Yow 78’); Paul Arriola (Yordy Reyna 46’), Edison Flores; Ola Kamara (Nigel Robertha 65’)
Bench: Jon Kempin, Yamil Asad, Joseph Mora, Moses Nyeman
FC Cincinnati Starting XI (5-3-2):
Przemyslaw Tyton (GK), Zico Bailey (Calvin Harris 64’), Nick Hagglund (Tyler Blackett 70’), Geoff Cameron, Gustavo Vallecilla, Ronald Matarrita; Yuya Kubo (Brandon Vasquez 80’), Caleb Stanko (Florian Valot 80’), Allan Cruz (Kamohelo Mokotjo 80’); Luciano Acosta (c), Brenner.
Bench: Kenneth Vermeer, Edgar Castillo, Chris Duvall, Haris Medunjanin
DCU – Arriola 7’ (Gressel)
DCU – Birnbaum 21’ (Gressel)
DCU – Arriola 41’ (Flores)
DCU – Robertha 72’ (Birnbaum)
CIN – Vasquez 80’ (unassisted)
CIN – Acosta 84’ (Vasquez)
YC – Hamid 34’ (Time wasting)
at Toronto F.C., 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 29th, BMO Field (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)