Noonan looking for positive response vs. Revs Saturday

In a season that has brought so much positive news, the big question facing FC Cincinnati going into Saturday evening’s home game vs. New England is how they will respond to something negative.

Pat Noonan’s team suffered just its second loss of the season last weekend, dropping a 3-0 result at D.C. United, a match where they never looked likely to get a good result based on the night’s performance. The loss snapped a 14-game undefeated streak in all competitions.

There are plenty of excuses to fall back on for players and supporters alike regarding last weekend. The lineup was missing standouts Brandon Vazquez and Matt Miazga due to their involvement with the U.S. Men’s National Team at the Gold Cup. Starting defender Yerson Mosquera was missing due to an immigration issue, while midfielder Junior Moreno was kept out with an injury and Yuya Kubo, who had done well as a makeshift striker vs. Toronto, missed through illness. Additionally, the club’s DP striker Brenner was sold for a club-record fee to Italian club Udinese. This happened a few weeks ago but new DP striker Aaron Boupendza won’t be able to replace him until at least July 5, when the international transfer window reopens.

All of these factors should bring comfort to FCC fans when considering the D.C. United result. Mosquera will return to the starting lineup having cleared the immigration hurdle. Kubo is back in full training and Moreno also returned (although he may not be able to go a full 90 minutes yet). Still, an array of concerns will still be present for the return home on Saturday. Miazga, Vazquez and Boupendza remain unavailable to Noonan when he selects the team. Center-back Ian Murphy will not be available vs. New England as he serves a red card suspension.

It is important to remember that despite last week’s loss, FCC continues to lead the MLS Supporters Shield standings, setting the pace with 43 points, seven ahead of the Revolution and 11 ahead of Western Conference leaders St. Louis (the only other team to defeat the Orange & Blue this season). Noonan’s side has accumulated an impressive 10-0-0 league record at home so far this season.

Noonan said the coaching staff has attempted to point out to the team the differences between what happened vs. DCU and the games where the team has found success.

“[We] looked at the last two games and analyzed kind of the differences in what we got right and what we didn’t,” Noonan said in a news release. “And then what this week was going to need to look like for the right preparation. And I’ve been, like I said, really pleased with the group and you know, just the level of focus and attention to detail in certain ways to have some quality on the field.”

Bruce Arena’s New England side has a 10-6-3 record so far this season, placing them second in the Eastern Conference standings, 7 points behind FCC. Carles Gil and Bobby Wood share the team goal-scoring lead with seven tallies each, although exciting attacking midfielder Dylan Borrero has been lost to the Revs with a knee Injury.

Other regular starters for the visitors include midfielders Noel Buck, Matt Polster and Latif Blessing; and defenders DeJuan Jones (away on USMNT Gold Cup duty), Brandon Bye and Dave Romney. Djordje Petrovic is the starting goalkeeper for New England.

Noonan said the team poses a challenge both in attack and defense.

“You know, they have one of the best playmakers in the league in [Carles] Gil and how they find ways to get him on the ball and create advantages in different areas of the field,” he said. “They’re a team that does a really good job of getting numbers forward and into the box. Dangerous crossers of the ball with [Brandon] Bye, with [Emmanuel] Boateng. You know, they have the ability to pin the opponent’s backline with the positioning of their front to at times with their outside backs. So, it’s just a team that’s aggressive in how they get the goal and that causes teams problems and I think they have good individual quality and smart players that understand how to break up plays in transition and defend in isolation.”

Saturday will provide a significant reveal as to whether last weekend was a hardship-induced blip on a great 2023 season for FCC or the beginning of a major plot twist in this campaign.

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