RECAP: Atlanta United 1 | FC Cincinnati 1: FCC earns their first point in MLS


FC Cincinnati headed in Atlanta for just their second ever match after getting throttled on national television 4-1 by the Seattle Sounders. Many predicted a scoring fest, with ESPN color commentator Taylor Twellman saying Atlanta could drop four, five, even six goals on FCC. Atlanta had been on an uphill climb so far in 2019.

After selling Miguel Almiron, probably the best player in the league, and 2018 Coach of the Year Tata Martino moving back to the international stage, Atlanta was going to be undergoing some changes. They replaced Almiron with Pity Martinez, the 2018 South American Footballer of the Year, and they replaced Tata with Frank de Boer, former Ajax manager with 4 league titles who also took the Netherlands to the World Cup final in 2010. Seems like pretty good replacements right?

Thinks have been shaky for the Five Stripes, losing three out of their last four matches between MLS and CCL play. Outside of their home match against Panamanian side Herediano, the high flying attack Atlanta was known for is nowhere to be found. Despite all of that, pundits still believed Atlanta would get their act together and punish FCC's backline.

Atlanta had all of their big guns out, despited just having played in Mexico Wednesday night, and having to play another match in three days.

Cincinnati changed up their 18, with Bone, Alexander, hitting the bench for the young DP Allan Cruz and Kekutah Manneh. Another notable change being Spencer Richey getting the call in the net. The previous starter Tyton did not even dress for the game, with Jimmy Hague as the backup. Greg Garza and new signing Kenny Saief started on the bench, only being cleared medically to play for 30 minutes. To many fans dismay, 2018 USL MVP Emmanuel Ledesma was not even in the 18 for the game, something he's shown dismay about on social media.



Five minutes into the match, Cincinnati fans started bracing themselves for another onslaught. In the 5th minute, Julian Gressell played a spectacular through ball behind the back line with Josef Martinez on the other end who blasted right past Kendal Waston and scored past Cincy GK Spencer Richey.

Throughout the rest of the half, FCC struggled to maintain much possession, but held firm in their defense, not giving up many clear shots or chances to Atlanta. Much of that can be attributed to Allan Cruz, who was constantly prodding and causing pain to the Atlanta attacking trio. They held strong into the half, keeping the score 1-0.

The second half started out with more of the same, Adi appeared to score but was called offside and confirmed via VAR. Around the 70th minute, Koch subbed in Garza and Saief for Powell and Cruz, and the momentum shifted. The Atlanta attack was stifled, and FCC was stringing together some good possession and started putting the pressure on the Five Stripes. It culminated with a game tying goal in the 85th minute, with Roland Lamah receiving a genius pass from Saief in the wide open and easily slotting it past Brad Guzan.

Atlanta finally woke up and applied some pressure in the final minutes, but it was too late too late. FCC, as a surprise to many, walked out of Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a point that felt like a victory, while Atlanta fans left upset. Boo's rained down after the final whistle, and Josef Martinez was visibly frustrated, heading straight to the locker room after the whistle. It is still too early to call Frank de Boer's campaign a failure, but fans in Atlanta who have only known success, are calling for heads.

Meanwhile, FCC stuns the reigning champs and finally gets to come home and face the Portland Timbers in front of what will surely be a sold-out crowd of 30,000+. After nabbing their first point of the season, they will be eager to build off this game and hopefully secure a win next week at home. The headless chicken performance from Seattle was nowhere to be seen, and while there are still many areas to shape up, it was great to see FCC finally start to play to their potential.

While we definitely need more production in the attack, especially from the likes of Adi, Manneh, and Mattocks. But Saief is the playmaker we need him to be, Cruz is putting in work on controlling the midfield, and Garza provides some much needed dangerous skill and speed on the defense and wing. If everyone can stay healthy, Koch might be starting to see what his best starting XI are, and after today's performance, there is hope to be had for the Orange and Blue.

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