FC Cincinnati (13-2-5) and the visiting New England Revolution (10-3-7) battled atop the Eastern Conference standings Saturday night. After the dust settled, the foes walked away a point apiece in a 2-2 draw.
The match was surrounded by events in the Cincinnati area. Taylor Swift, the award-winning singer, held a sold-out concert at Paycor Stadium and thousands more flooded the streets in Cincinnati’s downtown area. Paired with a Reds game and the typical urban sprawl, the environment around TQL Stadium was a circus. But none of the outside distractions was allowed to affect a Pat Noonan and Bruce Arena-coached tilt. The motivation for the night was to maintain or shake up the conference standings.
FCC opened the match as the aggressors. In the sixth minute, there was a flurry of chances that led to Santiago Arias unleashing a screaming shot that just missed wide of the left post. A New England fumbled attack in the 11th minute resulted in a quick FCC counter, as Luciano Acosta found Yuya Kubo thundering down the right side. Kubo looked up to find Dominique Badji who hits a low shot under his defender into the net for a 1-0 lead. A moment later FCC was at the Revs’ doorstep again only to see a Kubo shot go wide.
In the 14th minute, a Bobby Wood through ball to Gustavo Bou forced Ray Gaddis to intervene by sending the ball over the end line. On the corner, the ball found Bou who sent in a howling shot. Roman Celentano was able to dispatch the shot but was unfortunate to have the ball defect off Badji into the net.
Badji looked to immediately find an answer in the 20th minute, as he made a wonderful move past Latif Blessing. Badji ripped off a shot that the New England goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic had to stretch his leg out for. Kubo flashed in a moment later again, which required Petrovic to deal with.
In the 24th minute, the ball came in just over the 5’ 9” Gaddis where it found Bou who took a touch and sliced the ball in the back of the net. With that goal, New England became the first road team in 2023 to enjoy a lead in TQL Stadium. After a few more FCC opportunities, the Revs went into the locker room holding the advantage.
The second half opened with rain and a touch of hostilities. In the 51st minute, New England’s captain Carles Gil received a yellow card for simulation. A minute later, Blessing also received a yellow card as he made a half attempt at stopping an FCC attack. When things cooled down, Acosta was able to collect the ball in the middle third with tons of space to run into. With Acosta and Kubo coming at the backline with pace, Badji was able to float in unnoticed. Acosta found him and Badji did well to bury it in the near post. Badji picked up the brace on the night.
The remaining 30 minutes of the match played out with missed opportunities on both sides. The most notable for FCC was an Acosta corner in the 57th minute that was headed into the crossbar by Yerson Mosquera. For New England, their best remaining chance was in the 91st minute, as a Carles goal was ruled offsides by the buildup pass to Giacomo Vrioni that was offsides.
The full-time whistle sounded with both teams feeling a touch fortunate and a little disappointed to leave points out there on the night. The draw snapped FCC’s historic home game winning streak at 10 matches.
“There is (disappointment) for the guys that have done so much to position themselves to have this achievement if we were to win the game,” Pat Noonan, FCC manager, said. “I did talk about that briefly because it’s unique in the history of the league to do something and to be a first in a positive manner. I thought they deserved it. It’s disappointing it didn’t happen, but you still get a point out of the game against a good team that’s right behind us in the standings. All in all, even though the streak comes to an end, the guys have still done a lot of good things. And now, we can maybe stop thinking about that where we just go and play.”
CIN: Roman Celentano, Álvaro Barreal, Ray Gaddis, Nick Hagglund, Yerson Mosquera, Santiago Arias (Alvas Powell 86’), Marco Angulo (Sergio Santos 69’), Obinna Nwobodo, Luciano Acosta (C), Yuya Kubo (Malik Pinto 89’), Dominique Badji (Arquimides Ordoñez 86’)
Substitutes not used: Alec Kann, Joey Akpunonu, Isaiah Foster, London Aghedo, Bret Halsey
NE: Djordje Petrovic, Dave Romney, Brandon Bye, Ryan Spaulding (Ben Sweat 86’), Andrew Farrell, Matthew Polster, Carles Gil (C), Emmanuel Boateng (Damian Rivera 67’), Latif Blessing (Jack Panayotou 67’), Gustavo Bou (Omar Gonzalez 88’), Booby Wood (Giacomo Vrioni 67’)
Substitutes not used: Earl Edwards Jr., Justin Rennicks, Joshua Bolma, Esmir Bajraktarevic
CIN – Obinna Nwobodo (Yellow Card) 36’
NE – Carles Gil (Yellow Card) 51’
NE – Latif Blessing (Yellow Card) 52’
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