FC Cincinnati faces another top team Saturday when the New York Red Bulls visit TQL Stadium.
The Red Bulls (9-5-5, 32 points) entered the weekend slate sitting in first in the Eastern Conference, but Philadelphia’s blowout win over D.C. United on Friday pushed the Union ahead with 33 points in as many games.
FCC, which is unbeaten in the last four games, sits in fifth place at 7-7-4 and 25 points.
The Red Bulls lead the all-time MLS series over FC Cincinnati, 4-2-1 and 2-0-0 in Cincinnati. They are winners in four of their last six league matches, and they have two more road wins than any other team in the Eastern Conference, sitting at 6-3-1 in away games.
“I think that the opponents (faced) at the top of the table speaks to the balance of the conference in a league where if you win a couple games, you can jump pretty quickly or drop pretty quickly,” FCC coach Pat Noonan said. “It is a strong opponent, and certainly a Red Bulls team that has had success on the road early on this year. They understand how to how to approach the road games in ways to get results. We know it’ll be a challenging game. Certainly, as far as what the defensive pressure to the ball looks like, that’s all heightened a little bit in how we understand and prepare for numbers to the ball, and ideas of how to get through that pressure so that you’re not turning the ball over in dangerous areas and constantly find yourself in transition moments defensively.”
New York, which is known for its high-pressing style of play, is led by Lewis Morgan’s eight goals, while Brazilian midfielder Luquinhas has added five goals and Patryk Klimala has chipped in four. U.S. Men’s National Team defender Aaron Long, who scored the winner in last weekend’s 1-0 win against Sporting Kansas City, has scored three goals.
FCC will continue to be without Junior Moreno and Dom Badji, who are both out with leg injuries, but a couple others could potentially be unavailable.
Goalkeeper Alec Kann could miss a second straight game as he was still in health and safety protocols Friday. He hasn’t trained all week, so even if he is cleared Saturday, Kann might not be available for selection. Calvin Harris also is a question mark, though not on the availability report, after working to the side the past three training sessions while trying to get up his fitness levels following a month-long absence awaiting a green card.
Newly acquired forward Sergio Santos is expected to be in attendance Saturday but not available for selection until at least Wednesday against Vancouver.
For New York, Lucas Monzon (hamstring) and A.J. Marcucci (shoulder) are expected to be out because of injuries, and standout defender Sean Nealis is out because of a red card suspension last game against Sporting Kansas City. Up until his 73rd minute red card, he not missed a minute of MLS action this season. Andres Reyes (foot), Tom Edwards (ankle) and Wiki Carmona (foot) are questionable.
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