Red Bulls-FC Cincinnati Preview

National Sports

FC Cincinnati interim coach Tyrone Marshall urged his players to keep their heads held high despite a 3-2 defeat at Toronto FC condemning them to bottom place in the Eastern Conference.

Jaap Stam was relieved of his duties earlier this week, but Marshall could not engineer an immediate turnaround in fortunes.

Next up for Cincinnati are the New York Red Bulls, who are unbeaten in four games and in the hunt for a playoff spot.

“Look, it’s never easy to take a loss. It’s a tough one,” Marshall said after the Toronto defeat. “I’m one of those guys, I like to win at whatever I do but under the circumstances, everything that’s going on, I thought the attitude of everyone the past two days, the past three days has been fantastic just with everything from the change.

“Again, my message to the boys were continue to keep your head up. We’re gonna get through this. We’re gonna fight. We’re gonna keep working and see what happens, but knowing that when we get home, you know, it has to be better.

“We have to come with more energy, more discipline, more intelligence in terms of our playing, our defending in those transition moments but from that, again, I just have to be all positive for those guys. I know they’ve been going through a lot. I’m going to try to keep it as positive as possible and go from there.”

The Red Bulls drew with Philadelphia Union on Wednesday, leaving Gerhard Struber a little frustrated.

“The result, in the end, makes me a little bit unhappy, and I think today we played in a good direction,” Struber said.

“One point today is okay or is enough, but I can feel this was so close, so close to win this game.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

FC Cincinnati – Luciano Acosta

Luciano Acosta scored and assisted another in Cincinnati’s defeat at Toronto. The playmaker has real quality on his day, and Marshall will be hoping to get the best out of him in the run-in.

New York Red Bulls – Sean Davis

Sean Davis created five chances from his midfield berth against Philadelphia, more than any other player in the game.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– After losing their first three meetings, FC Cincinnati is unbeaten in three straight matches against the Red Bulls (W2 D1), equaling its longest unbeaten run against any team in the club’s short MLS history (three straight vs. CF Montreal from 2019 to 2021). Cincinnati has kept a clean sheet in all three matches, its first run of three straight clean sheets against any opponent in MLS.

– Cincinnati has lost four consecutive matches for the first time in 2021 following a 3-2 defeat at Toronto FC in midweek. Cincinnati has lost more games in succession only once over the last two years, a run of five defeats to conclude the 2020 season.

– The Red Bulls have won their last two away matches and have kept a clean sheet in each of them (4-0 at Inter Miami and 1-0 at New York City). They are looking to win three consecutive away matches without conceding a goal for the first time since July 2000 (vs Tampa Bay, Kansas City and New England).

– Acosta has scored in consecutive games for the first time since he joined Cincinnati. He has been directly involved in nine of Cincinnati’s last 12 goals (3 scored, 6 assisted).

– Omir Fernandez has scored in back-to-back matches for the first time since May-June 2019 that included a goal against Cincinnati, his first MLS goal. He has never scored in three consecutive MLS matches.

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