How FC Cincinnati Beat The Chicago Fire En Route To A 2-Game Winning Streak

Fresh off their first three points in nearly two months, FC Cincinnati burst out of the gates and held on for their second win on the trot against the Chicago Fire on Saturday. 

The return of Allan Cruz from Gold Cup duty worked wonders for the side last week, and it was his goal only 45 seconds into the match that set the tone in a wild affair that featured a 59-minute weather delay, two Fire penalties, and a late winner. Fanendo Adi finally got off the mark in 2019 for his new club, and his strike with seven minutes to play in regulation proved the difference in a 2-1 victory.

Cincy didn’t have near the type of night they did against the Houston Dynamo last week in terms of passing efficiency, movement off the ball, and creating overloads in dangerous areas. From the outset, Yoann Damet set up his side to absorb pressure in their own half, and at times it appeared it all might come crashing down. In the end, they were able to limit dangerous chances through the middle, survived conceding two penalties, and Spencer Richey had another standout night between the sticks with five saves. A much more defensive posture ultimately got the job done and saw them draw level on points (17) with the Columbus Crew at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

Clogging up the middle

Caleb Stanko was back in the lineup on Saturday, which meant he slotted in next to Leonardo Bertone in the two-man midfield base and Cruz was pushed higher up the field. Overall, Stanko and Bertone combined well to limit space and close down opponents at the right moment but had quiet nights in attack.

For all the possession and significant advantage in shots (20-6), Damet’s men largely prevented dangerous chances through the middle and forced the Fire out wide. As a result, the Fire resorted to launching in 31 crosses — never likely to bring much success against Kendall Waston and Justin Hoyte — which led to Cincy’s staggering advantage in clearances at 37-9.

With Stanko dropping back to provide much of the cover in front of the back line, Bertone was pushed a bit in front of his best position on the field and saw his influence considerably limited. When this team clicks, much of what they do well comes down to Bertone getting as many touches on the ball as possible. He may not always provide the highlight reel goal or assist — although he’s fully capable — but his calmness, vision, and ability to provide the right tempo is a step above his teammates and needs to be maximized each week. Thirty-seven touches – compared to 73 seven days prior – just isn’t going to cut it moving forward.

Adi offers hope for the future

2019 hasn’t exactly been the best of years thus far for Fanendo Adi, but the Nigerian forward has been given a massive boost thanks to his first tally of the season and a solid stint in a substitute appearance. He checked in for Rashawn Dally in the 67th minute and produced the moment of magic he’s been craving for months. His instinctual run and precise finish helped his side snatch three points, but he also contributed plenty of dirty work that helped secure the result.

Damet has been adamant about instilling a possession-based style of play, but his side largely struggled to play out of the back against the Fire. With the opposition pinning them in deep, the manager’s decision to introduce Adi was a pretty clear sign that he desperately needed his side to relieve some pressure and was content to settle for a draw. Adi was on the pitch for less than a minute when he demonstrated the type of strong, direct play he can offer, and he immediately helped his side push higher up the field in subsequent minutes.


Goalkeeper Spencer Richey launched a goal kick forward and Adi’s initial positioning at the top of the center circle showed what he was on the pitch to do — namely, to hold up the ball, win aerial duels, and allow teammates to run off him into space. A look at all of the striker’s touches shows just the kind of labor he offered deeper positions. In fact, five of 16 came in that same area in the middle of the park.

Fast forward a quarter of an hour, and it was Cincy’s positioning and closing of space in midfield that allowed Cruz to step in a win a loose ball, find Kekuta Manneh slightly forward, and release Adi on one of his trademark runs. The finish and celebration left no doubt that the 28-year-old has felt the pressure building for some time.



Adi hasn’t started since the first week of June and has two appearances of less than a half hour to his name since, but Saturday’s performance could very well be the moment that ignites him on his way to recapturing the type of form that warranted his blockbuster purchase from the Portland Timbers.

Cincy are back at Nippert Stadium on Thursday and will look to take advantage of a D.C. side who have struggled in recent weeks. A third consecutive result could see them leave their spot in the Eastern Conference cellar and would greatly aid in their mission of inching toward the playoff line in the final months of the season.

Berhalter With A Decision To Make, Canada's Vicious Attack & A Growing Cuba

null

Group A of the inaugural Concacaf Nations League offers no shortage of intriguing storylines. 

D.C. United Can't Overcome Reyna's First Half Goal, Fall 1-0 To 'Caps

With Wayne Rooney back in the lineup, D.C. United could not turn a plethora of shots into a goal on Saturday night, falling 1-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place. Yordy Reyna scored the game's only goal in the 18th minute, as United failed to pick up their first two-game winning streak since May. The loss dropped the Black-and-Red down into fourth place in the Eastern Conference, just one point ahead of rivals the New York Red Bulls, who come to town on Wednesday.

D.C. United Begin Busy Week With Visit To Face Vancouver Whitecaps

The New Look D.C. United

After scraping together a much-needed 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy on Sunday, D.C. United will look to make it two wins in a row tonight when they travel to Canada to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Black-and-Red haven't won two games in a row since May 4 and May 12, when they took down the Columbus Crew and Sporting Kansas City in back-to-back games at Audi Field. The win over LA last weekend catapulted United back into third place in the Eastern Conference, despite just three wins in their past 14 games.

Concacaf Legends: Honduras' Left Back For Over A Decade, Emilio Izaguirre

Sometimes, it's hard to go back home. 

Clint Dempsey Forged A Career & Persona Unlike Any Other US International

Small-town Texan. Bass fisherman. Rapper. Premier League star. World Cup hero.

League C Brings Caribbean Nations Trying To Climb The Concacaf Ladder

null

The inaugural Concacaf Nation kicks off in less than a month and in League C — the lowest tier of the competition — are 13 nations aiming to grow and gain promotion to League B in the next edition. The tournament is the first of its kind involving all 41 teams in the region and is a welcomed opportunity for many of the participants to convene and take part in more competitive matches than ever before, seven of which FIFA President Gianni Infantino recently visited to assess the development of the sport in the Caribbean.

El Salvador, Jamaica vs Guyana & A Potential Upset Team Highlight League B

null

League B of the inaugural Concacaf Nations League has a couple of surprising teams to go along with several teams that could vie for a promotion spot, against all odds. Despite finishing Nations League qualifying on the same amount of points as three teams that ended up in League A, Jamaica and El Salvador fell to League B by virtue of their goal differential over the four qualifying games. 

Balanced Group C Offers Best Fight In League A Of Concacaf Nations League

null

Just around the corner, the Concacaf Nations League tournament hits the group stage for the first installment of the tournament. After the qualifying stage that took place at the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019, the 41 teams in the region have been split up into three leagues, with group play starting during next month's international break. 

Chicharito's Mexico Legacy Is Secure, But Don't Count Him Out Just Yet

Right place, right time.

Sans Rooney, Arriola And Rodriguez Fire United To Win Over Galaxy

Coming off a challenging week, and without their captain on the field, D.C. United put an end to a recent poor run of results, beating the LA Galaxy 2-1 at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. With Wayne Rooney out sick, and Luciano Acosta on the bench, Paul Arriola and Lucas Rodriguez scored on either side of the half, canceling out a second-half strike from Favio Alvarez.