FC Cincinnati heads to the greater Boston area on Saturday night to take on the New England Revolution in a clash of two teams currently tied atop the Eastern Conference on points. Though both teams have 20 points through the first nine matches of the season, the Revolution’s +7 goal difference bests FCC’s +2. In his pre-match availability, Manager Pat Noonan alluded to the test playing New England on the road would provide his team.
“Results-wise, we’ve positioned ourselves well,” he said. “But now you’ve had enough games against strong opponents where going on the road against the team at the top of the standings. This will be a good indication of the growth of our group in terms of performance, but also how we go on the road and perform to try to continue to create separation and be a team that’s at the top of the conference. I think our guys understand where we’re at, and what’s going to be needed on the night to be successful.”
The Orange and Blue rebounded from the 5-1 loss in St. Louis with a two-win week, first with a 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers in league play and then a Dirty River Derby 1-0 win midweek against Louisville City in the U.S. Open Cup.
Noonan rotated his squad heavily in the Open Cup but key contributors Lucho Acosta, Alvaro Barreal and Brandon Vazquez all made appearances, ensuring FCC advanced to the next round. However, given the relatively short cameos, the Orange and Blue should be at full strength. The only contributor missing out could be right back Santiago Arias, who remains sidelined with a thigh injury. Brenner is back from finalizing his upcoming transfer to Serie A’s Udinese, but his availability for Saturday is in question.
The Revolution, managed by Bruce Arena, will pose a tough test. Carles Gil and Đorđe Petrović are two of the best players at their respective positions in MLS. FCC’s midfield and back five will have to be constantly aware of where Gil is on the field. as he will float around looking to pick the ball in pockets of space, much like Acosta. Petrović was faced with the nearly impossible task of replacing Matt Turner in goal but he’s been one of the best, if not the best, goalkeepers in MLS since his arrival. Through nine games, he’s allowed just eight goals on 9.9 post-shot expected goals.
New England has also had success in 2023 bringing through a new generation of talent including Noel Buck, Esmir Bajraktarevic and Dylan Borrero. Giacomo Vrioni, signed from Juventus in 2022 as a replacement for departing (and now returning) Designated Player Adam Buksa, has three goals in eight games but will be looking to build off his two-goal performance last week against Sporting Kansas City.
Stream: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV
TV Talent (English): Callum Williams (play-by-play), Calen Carr (analyst)
TV Talent (Spanish): Diego Pessolano (play-by-play), Luis Gerardo Bucci (analyst)
Radio: ESPN 1530
Radio Talent: Tom Gelehrter (play-by-play), Omar Cummings (analyst)