FC Cincinnati will look to finish off the New York Red Bulls’ season when the two teams face off in Harrison, New Jersey for the second matchup of the best-of-three series.
FCC started this best-of-three series with a statement 3-0 win over the Red Bulls at TQL Stadium. That scoreline might look like FCC commanded the matchup, but the side only had three shots on goal in its entirety, while Red Bulls had five.
The match was much closer than the scoreline appeared. FCC’s two relatively early goals in the first-third of the match allowed the team to play its own game rather than feel it needed to chase. It also made Red Bulls feel like they needed to go after the game rather than let it come to them.
Red Bulls even had the earliest chance at goal, and probably should have led the match 1-0, as a chance at goal in the 12th minute saw Luquinhas with as clear-cut a chance as you’ll get, but he sailed the ball over the bar. That goal should have been the start of the Red Bull Way, but FCC lucked out. The Shield winners will need to be very careful on Saturday that that doesn’t happen.
Red Bulls love to weasel their way under the opposition’s skin and make them think the game will go their way and FCC already being up 2-0 forced that narrative to be moot.
Unfortunately, one aspect that the Red Bulls’ style of play did impact was a few FCC players that picked up yellow cards that shouldn’t have. Matt Miazga picked up a yellow for the tiniest of infractions and Aaron Boupendza picked one up in his first ball intervention of the game after coming on in the 72nd minute. Alvaro Barreal also tallied a yellow card.
These cards are a direct result of how the Red Bulls play, as the side consistently looks for free kicks and fouls after the slightest touch. The referee seemingly wasn’t aware of that early in the match and that could have negatively impacted the match if Red Bulls scored from any of those set pieces.
Luckily, FCC was not the only team to pick up some cards, as both Elias Manoel and FCC fan favorite Frankie Amaya got one.
However, should FCC win this next match, it would be very difficult to be suspended for a match, as according to the MLS Guidelines, yellow cards will reset for the Conference Finals.
For this next matchup, and I know this won’t happen, but I would love to see Yuya Kubo start over Junior Moreno. Kubo has consistently shown his quality and I think it could be some good rotation as well. I also could see Boupendza start over Dominique Badji, but I think Badji showed some good hold-up play.
Overall, I think, even though the scoreline was closer than it appeared last match, FCC should still flex its muscles and end this round of the playoffs early tomorrow night at Red Bull Arena.