MLS Weekend Recap – June 5th 2023

Breaking down the latest FC Cincinnati opposition and around the league

Photo Credit: Brian Mack

The wins keep rolling!

While I had thought there might be a slip-up this week, the team has continued to power through tired legs and pick up win after win after win.

You may be distracted by matches seemingly every other day, so we checked out what has been happing to FCC’s upcoming opponents and around the league.

Upcoming Schedule 

At Bat: June 6th v Pittsburgh Riverhounds (US Open Cup); 23 pts, 2nd in USL East

While there may not be many connections between FCC and the Riverhounds, they both love a one goal win. Pittsburgh comes into the US Open Cup quarterfinal on a streak of 6 consecutive wins with the last three all being 1-0 victories.

Now this isn’t a surprise to anyone who remembers them from Cincy’s USL days, as Pittsburgh coach Bob Lilley has been well known for his team’s ability to frustrate teams in a low block. And it has paid off as they used this formula to beat both Columbus and New England in prior rounds of the US Open Cup.

However, it will be a question if they can handle FC Cincinnati’s full squad as they have faced rotated lineups for each of the two prior cupsets. For a bigger preview check out Jersey Swap from Geoff Tebbets who breaks down the opponent with a local reporter.

On Deck: June 10th @ Vancouver Whitecaps; 21 pts, 7th in the West

FCC will travel to Canada for their final game against a Western Conference opponent by facing the high-flying Vancouver Whitecaps. Led by head coach Vanni Sartini, the Whitecaps have played a high octane pressing and counter attacking style that leads to back and forth affairs. 

In some cases, they have chewed up the opponent like their 6-2 victory over Houston two weeks ago. In others, struggling to score against a solid defense, like their 1-1 draw with SKAC after a late PK allowed them to tie it up.

It will likely be the toughest game for Cincy since their Hell is Real victory but may come at an opportune time, as Vancouver will host Montreal in the Canadian Championship Final. The Canadian version of the Open Cup, on Wednesday night.

In the Hole: June 21st v Toronto FC; 18 pts, 12th in USL East

After 8 games in 25 days, Cincinnati will get a well deserved weekend off before facing a potentially rejuvenated Toronto FC side. In the Summer of 2022, Toronto signed big Italian stars Lorenso Insigne and Federico Bernedeschi with the promise they would be competitive in 2023.

Despite the new signings, they have started the season largely struggling to live up to those expectations. Recent articles from The Athletic have revealed a dysfunctional culture inside of the organization with superstar Federico Bernedeschi being benched by Bob Bradley after suggesting the coach didn’t give them any tactical instructions.

Since his benching, they have won and tied their most recent results and played with a better energy that has been missing for large chunks of the season. It will be interesting to see if there is a continued level of performance with Bernedeschi being reintroduced in upcoming games, or if the dysfunction returns and they have another downturn in form.


Checking in on the West 

Our friends in Portland opened the weekend with a doubleheader with the Portland Thorns of NWSL to face off against their local rivals in Seattle. Unfortunately, the opening game between the Timbers and Sounders failed to produce many sparks as the game ended 0-0. While it is a point, the Timbers have dropped off after their hot beginning of May and have fallen to 11th in the West and the conversation about manager Gio Savarese’s seat continues to warm up.

The managerial seat has both warmed and cooled for teams in the West. Colorado’s Robin Fraser has continued to hear rising calls to look elsewhere as the Rapids fell to Columbus in the midweek and then were unable to inspire with a 0-0 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes. While he can point to having 11 players out from his squad currently, many of whom are starters, the calls for something new, may be expressions of discontent with the front office which has done little to support the team.

And if they are truly discontent then they can look to the LA Galaxy supporters for inspiration as their early season boycotts have resulted in long time GM Chris Klein leaving the club. This has been a call fans have been asking for all season and has created a hostile atmosphere at their games. Immediately following his departure the LA Galaxy went to RSL and got their first victory against an MLS first team in a month. While it will take time to see if this is a sustainable change, coach Greg Vanney will be excited for the opportunity to have his team play in a positive environment again.


Best of the Weekend

In recent weeks it has been announced that Brenner has officially left the team after a recent ankle injury. However, his departure has come with little fanfare as the club and player couldn’t come to an arranged goodbye ceremony for him. While there appears to have been a breakdown in the relationship between the front office and the player, it doesn’t feel right to not have a moment to celebrate a player who was integral in helping to turn around the team last season.

So I have gone through and pulled up the Top 5 Goals that Brenner has scored for FCC to remember the highlights of his time here.

5. Backheel “Goal” v. New York City FC (June 29, 2022)

It’s unfortunate this goal was called out of bounds earlier in the play, because Brenner’s audacious backheel through the legs of a defender was the best goal he ever scored. However, because it didn’t count it can’t be higher than #5.


4. Upper 90’s goal v DC United (October 9, 2022)

It may not seem like a special goal, but the fact that the ball is just behind his momentum and he is able to curl it into the top corner, is a special finish in my eyes. Not to mention it was the goal that really solidified FCC’s first qualifications to the playoffs in 2022.


3. Final Goal for Hat Trick v San Jose Earthquakes (September 10, 2022)

While this came in the midst of a full blown rout, he won the ball before racing forward to deftly chip it over the on rushing goalkeeper. Chefs kiss!


2. Leaping Kick v Toronto FC (September 11, 2021)

This was probably the highlight of the season. He correctly reads the ball and was able to just knick it inside the post with his outstretched foot. With little else to celebrate that season, at least there was a banger to cheer.


1. Bicycle Kick v. New York City FC (June 29, 2022)

While not the best goal of the game, see above why, it was the one that stood. That being said, it was extremely creative to be able to adjust his body to the deflection and hit it in as FCC were on a first half rout before giving the momentum away.

Happy Pride Month Ya’ll

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