FC Cincinnati traveled to Seattle on Tuesday night with the hope of exorcising the past demons of their first three seasons in the league. The match was originally scheduled to be played in April, but was postponed due to the Sounders Concacaf Champions League run.
Pat Noonan elected to go with his preferred starting XI replacing Ian Murphy for Geoff Cameron who was suspended for their last match in Salt Lake. Seattle gaffer Brian Schmetzer was forced to go with many changes in his group due to missing six starters and ten total players due to injuries, suspensions and international duty. Several players including Ethan Dobbelaere and Abdoulaye Cissoko had not featured in the XI since July.
The first ten minutes of the match was a messy affair with neither side registering a quality opportunity. Dobbelaere had the best chance for Seattle marching up the right side, but his dangerous cross was negated following an offside flag. FCC looked to be gaining control in the second 10′ gaining possession with an early 60-40 advantage. The turf seemed to give Acosta fits with the Argentine playmaker having the ball caught under his feet.
FCC’s magician did find a great opportunity in the 24th minute finding space and picking up his head in search of Brenner. Acosta’s pass seemed to come up an inch short as Seattle center back Cissoko was able to get his foot on the ball. However, the touch was not solid and the ball found its way to the Brazilian who, importantly, maintained his run had clear space for a 1v1 chance vs. Sounder keeper Stefan Frei. Like in many a case in 2022, Brenner kept his composure and finished a great far post shot to give the visitors the lead.
The hosts did not sit idly by down a goal. A cross by fullback Kelyn Rowe followed by ball sent in from the right scared FCC. Keeper Roman Celentano was up to Seattle’s best first half chance as the right sided cross found forward Will Bruin. The strikers header was directed toward the left post and down, but was stopped by a strong right hand from the rookie on a great reaction save.
FC Cincy and Seattle exchanged some half chances to end the first with a great run by Obi wasted by the visitors and a Dobbelaere floating cross nearly equalizing. The half was ended with a 1-0 scoreline to the visitors.
In his halftime interview head coach Pat Noonan was happy with the scoreline, but he did question the decision making out of the front three.
Both teams returned from the locker rooms with the same lineups but with things not changing either way, Schmetzer elected to make the first changes in the 55th minute. He would bring on USMNT midfielder Christian Roldan and attacker Léo Chú to get more bodies into the attack
The subs would go onto make an immediate impact with Seattle controlling the tempo of the match. Shortly after their entry the Sounders began trying to change the point of attack from side to side. A pinpoint pass from Rowe on the left flank in the 58th minute to a charging Fredy Montero on the right caught FCC off guard. Montero then quickly launched a powerful shot from distance that beat Celentano near post for the equalizer.
Moments later in the 60th a Roldan header was pushed wide by Celentano that could have put Seattle in the lead.
Noonan, realizing that the tide was changing brought on Sergio Santos for Brenner and Yuya Kubo for Moreno in the 66th minute. Santos immediately began to stretch the field and was sent a through ball by Acosta in the 69th minute. As the Brazilian was receiving the through ball on goal, Rowe plowed through the attacker denying what would have likely been a goal scoring opportunity. Rowe was given a straight red for his professional foul in a harsh decision that would favor FCC.
Following Rowe’s dismissal, the Orange & Blue were able to put Seattle under more pressure. Another chance for Santos was headed high in the 75th minute off an Acosta cross. A minute later Barreal sent in a cross that found Santos, who was able to direct a header at Vazquez in the box. The strikers first attempt was served at the middle of the goal and drew a great save from Frei. His second opportunity was cleared in what was a great opportunity for the visitors.
Later in the half FC Cincy was finding space over the top. Seattle needing three points was opening themselves up searching for the go ahead goal.
Cincinnati’s final opportunity came in the final seconds of stoppage time. FCC had a breakaway up the left hand side with Santos streaking at goal. The cross arrived to Santos’ foot, who unfortunately sent the ball over the frame. MLS logged that xG at nearly 0.71 on that chance at the death.
While FCC won the xG battle nearly 2.0 to 0.4, the three points was just out of reach. For most of the match the defense held their shape well and made clear cut chances difficult for the continental champions. In his post match interview Noonan seemed frustrated and that the attack could not get into a “controlled rhythm” to put away the match.
In a vacuum, one point in a midweek match in Seattle is a great result, however FCC will have wanted more. Two matches remain for Cincinnati and a win in one of those would likely clinch a spot in the 2022 Audi MLS Cup playoffs.
Matchday 32 – Seattle Sounders vs FC Cincinnati
Result: FC Cincinnati 1, Seattle Sounders 1
FC Cincinnati Starting XI:
Roman Celentano; Matt Miazga, Geoff Cameron, Nick Hagglund, Álvaro Barreal (John Nelson 90’+), Alvas Powell (Ray Gaddis 83′); Júnior Moreno (Yuya Kubo 67′), Luciano Acosta, Obinna Nwobodo; Brenner (Sergio Santos 67′), Brandon Vázquez (Dominique Badji, 83′)
Unused Substitutes: Alec Kann, Zico Bailey, Calvin Harris, Ian Murphy,
Seattle Sounders Starting XI:
Stefan Frei (GK); Kelyn Rowe, Abdoulaye Cissoko (Christian Roldan 55′) Jackson Ragen, Yeimar, Ethan Dobbelaere; Joshua Atencio (Jimmy Medranda 75′), Daniel Leyva (Léo Chú 55′), Fredy Montero, Albert Rusnak; Wil Bruin (Dylan Teves 84′)
Unused Substitutes: Stefan Cleveland, Alfonso Ocampo-Chávez
CIN – Brenner 24′
SEA– Montero (Rowe) 58′
CIN – Nick Hagglund 33‘, Obi Nwobodo 69′, Luciano Acosta 72′
SEA – Jackson Ragen 53‘, Kelyn Rowe RED 68′, Will Bruin 83′
vs. Chicago Fire SC, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1st