2024 Match Reports

Summertime Blues: FC Cincinnati melt under pressure, loses to New England Revolution 2-1

Obinna Nwobodo picks up his second yellow card of the night, in turn a red card,, as DeAndre Yedlin watches on. Photo by Rob Moore.

On a muggy night when relief from the heat would have been appreciated, the only deluge that arrived was more injury news.

FC Cincinnati (12-3-4, 39 pts.) found itself in an early hole against the New England Revolution (6-1-10, 19 pts.) after two first-half goals from Giacomo Vrioni. The Orange and Blue survived a hailstorm of yellow cards and a red-carded ejection to claw a goal back, only to lose 2-1 at TQL Stadium.

While the defeat was disheartening, the biggest loss may have come where FCC could not afford to lose any other players. A week after Cincinnati lost Matt Miazga to a knee injury, center back Nick Hagglund was carried off the pitch late in the match after suffering a broken fibula.

“It was a tough night for us for a lot of reasons, but I just thank the players for the effort that they gave tonight,” Pat Noonan told the media after the loss. “I know you hear that a lot, especially when things don’t go your way, but for the third game in eight days, what some of those guys did physically throughout the week and to push themselves tonight, down a couple goals and a man, and then two men, it speaks to their character. That’s the positive that comes out of this, so I thank them for that.”

Both teams entered Saturday on hot streaks. FCC had won its last two matches and nine out of its last 10. The Orange & Blue needed all 10 minutes of extra time to pull out a 4-3 victory over Philadelphia Union on Wednesday.

The Revolution entered Saturday’s play in good form as well, having won their last three. Their 3-2 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps last Saturday had not yet pulled them from the bottom of the East, but it gave the squad momentum after losing seven of the previous eight MLS matches.

The Orange and Blue marched out a lineup that reflected the end of Wednesday’s win over Philadelphia. Both Kipp Keller and Nick Hagglund left the match in the second half, forcing DeAndre Yedlin and Alvas Powell to occupy center back positions. Both started in those spots, while Yamil Asad occupied the left back position for his first start of the season. Gerardo Valenzuela also returned to the lineup, allowing Yuya Kubo to begin on the bench.

New England entered Saturday with a longer break, but a shorter support line. Head coach Caleb Porter dressed only seven players for the bench. Forward Dylan Borrero failed to make the trip, replaced by Ema Boateng in the Starting XI, and midfielder Matt Polster returned after suspension due to yellow-card accumulation.

The first 30 minutes was a crash course in defending, as the back line of Powell, Ian Murphy and Yedlin needed time to gel. New England capitalized with a majority of possession that granted them an early goal. Carles Gil fed forward Giacomo Vrioni atop the box in the 21st minute, and the Albanian found a spot to Roman Celentano’s right. His fifth goal of the year made it 1-0 for New England.

The floor fell further in the 41st minute. Boateng sent a cross into the box, only for Yedlin to slip and allow Vrioni space. The Revolution striker’s header escaped Celentano to make it 2-0 at halftime.

While Cincinnati managed more of the possession in the first half, their overall play lacked visible cohesion in the back line and middle. When FCC was able to advance, the whistles stopped them cold—New England drew 10 fouls and two yellow cards out of the Orange and Blue in the first 45 minutes.

Pat Noonan’s reaction was a wholesale substitution of his striker line and a like-for-like replacement with Hagglund on for Powell.

Despite more frustration brewing from yellow cards, FCC’s lineup change produced some fruit. Acosta took a quick corner kick in the 65th minute, finding a streaking Asad in the box. His header evaded goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic to make the match 2-1 with plenty of time to go. The goal was Asad’s first goal of the season and his first MLS goal since 2021 when he played for D.C. United.

“It’s a mix of feelings,” Asad told reporters after the match. “It was my first game starting and my first goal, but it couldn’t be useful. I think we had a bad first half, but in the second once we scored, the red card came and it was too much work for us. It’s a bad result at home, but it is still up to us.”

The red card was due to Nwobodo’s second yellow card from taking Vrioni down in the 69th minute. His ejection also means that Cincinnati will be without him for the road trip to Dallas next weekend.

Despite being down to ten men, FCC managed to pour on more pressure for an equalizer. Acosta, Sergio Santos and Yuya Kubo had multiple attempts in the box late in the half, only for their efforts to be blocked. New England was content to lay back and bolster their defense, letting Cincinnati claim more possession but less clear attempts on goal.

Hagglund’s injury came in the 90th minute off of a clash on the edge of the Cincinnati box with forward Esmir Bajraktarevic.

It wasn’t until after the match that Noonan was able to report the injury.

“(Nick) broke his fibula, so he’s going to be out a couple months, so that’s a tough one for the group,” he said.”Obviously for Nick, first and foremost. It’s tough to see a key piece go down like that, and obviously the news wasn’t great. Timeline and all of that, I don’t know.”

Unable to substitute on a player, Cincinnati played the rest of the match down two men and almost equalized off of a shot by Luca Orellano near the final whistle, only for Ivacic to palm the shot away.

The loss leaves FCC scrambling for able bodies on defense. Miles Robinson is currently with the U.S. Men’s National Team for Copa America, and the injuries to Miazga and Hagglund leave Murphy and Kipp Keller as the only natural center backs who have seen playing time this season.

New England comes out of the performance as the only Eastern Conference team never to lose at TQL Stadium (3-0-1). The win pulls the Revolution into 12th place, two points under the playoff line. Cincinnati remains in second place, but now loses a game in hand to idle Inter Miami.

FCC venturea beyond the Mississippi again for their next match, traveling to Dallas next Saturday. New England returns home to face Porter’s old squad, the Columbus Crew.

Match #19 – FC Cincinnati vs. New England Revolution

TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Attendance: 25,513
Result: FC Cincinnati 1, New England Revolution 2


FC Cincinnati Starting XI (3-4-1-2):

Roman Celentano (GK); Alvas Powell (Nick Hagglund 46′), Ian Murphy (Aaron Boupendza 88′), DeAndre Yedlin; Luca Orellano, Pavel Bucha, Obinna Nwobodo, Yamil Asad (bret halsey 75′); Luciano Acosta (c); Kevin Kelsy (Sergio Santos 46′), Gerardo Valenzuela (Yuya Kubo 46′).

Bench: Alec Kann, Isaiah Foster, Kipp Keller, Malik Pinto.

New England Revolution Starting XI (4-2-3-1):

Aljaz Ivacic (GK); DeJuan Jones, Dave Romney, Xavier Arreaga, Nick Lima; Ian Harkes (Noel Buck 68′), Matt Polster; Emmanuel Boateng (Jonathan Mensah 81′), Carles Gil (c) (Brandon Bye 88′), Esmir Bajraktarevic; Giacomo Vrioni.

Bench: Earl Edwards, Jr., Jack Panayotou, Andrew Farrell, Henry Kessler.

Scoring Summary:

NER – Giacomo Vrioni 21′ (C. Gil)
NER – Giacomo Vrioni 41′ (Boateng)
CIN – Yamil Asad 65′ (Acosta)

YC – Obinna Nwobodo 34’ (CIN, foul)
YC – Alvas Powell 45+3’ (CIN, foul)
YC – DeAndre Yedlin 54′ (CIN, dissent)
YC – Luca Orellano 63′ (CIN, dissent)
RC – Obinna Nwobodo 69′ (CIN, foul)
YC – Giacomo Vrioni 81′ (NER, foul)

Next up:
at FC Dallas, 8:30 p.m., Saturday, June 29th, Toyota Stadium (Frisco, TX)

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