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Sweet, sweet victory.
It had been over two months since FC Cincinnati got the better of their opposition, but they finally secured a much-needed three points on Saturday — a shutout no less — en route to a season sweep over the Montreal Impact. They haven’t made it any easier on themselves in recent weeks by picking up two red cards in the last three games, but Allan Cruz’s early strike was enough to secure their first triumph since July 13 while finishing the affair a man down.
The Impact dominated virtually every offensive facet of the game with the exceptions of shots on target and the final scoreline. The Canadians produced a whopping 17 total attempts but managed a solitary shot on goal, while Cincy were much more efficient with three of their eight attempts on frame.
Cincinnati’s direct play out of the gates paid off in a big way when Cruz slammed home a bouncing ball for the team’s fastest goal in their young MLS history.
"I told myself the first opportunity that I was going to get, I would capitalize on it,” Cruz said concerning the quick strike.
While they did struggle to possess, Cincinnati found success in their efforts to force shots from distance and break up passes before they led to quality chances for the hosts. Nine of Montreal’s total shots came from the top of the box or farther, and Ron Jans’ men dominated the Impact in interceptions by a tally of 15-5. Their additional advantages in clearances (20-11) and blocks (8-4) tell the story of a team that made every effort to stymie attackers when they did find their way into the penalty area.
Courtesy of WhoScored.com.
Courtesy of WhoScored.com.
Round 2 against the reigning champions
On the heels of Saturday’s victory, the Orange and Blue will need to harness every bit of that momentum as they host the defending champs in a midweek match at Nippert Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 PM ET, and the action will be shown live on FloFC for area subscribers.
Atlanta United have hit their stride following a shaky start to the season, rising through the Eastern Conference and holding their place in the upper tier ever since. However, they will be coming into the midweek encounter fuming after suffering two consecutive defeats and will be fighting tooth and nail in their attempt to finish at the top of the Eastern Conference.
Flash back to the teams’ first meeting and you have an entirely different narrative surrounding each club. Their opening match saw them fall to the Seattle Sounders, but FC Cincinnati were still riding the wave of joining MLS and their 1-1 draw at Atlanta initiated a stretch in which they nearly completed the best five-game start in MLS history.
On the other side of the pitch was an Atlanta team attempting to find their way under new coach Frank de Boer and produce in the final third without the services of Miguel Almirón. A home draw against the newcomers was rightfully deemed a disappointing result and in the following weeks fans became increasingly restless. Fast-forward and the Five Stripes have captured a pair of trophies and are fighting for the top spot in the East with a few fixtures remaining.
There’s arguably no better player in the league at capitalizing on half-chances than Atlanta’s Josef Martinez. If Cincinnati can once again put in the kind of defensive shift they did against Montreal by limiting the supply and quickly pouncing on loose balls, they just might have a chance of frustrating the reigning champions once again to give their fan base a big boost as the season winds to a close.