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New York Red Bulls take on FC Cincinnati this week in Round One of the MLS Playoffs. The winning side will go on to face Philadelphia in Round Two after the Easter Conference toppers got a bye in the first round.
The two sides met twice in the regular season, and both matches ended in 1-1 draws. Both games saw New York Red Bulls dominate the possession but fail to make the most of it. The two sides hardly get shots on target, and thus, it is not a surprise that both games ended in draws.
The two sides met at the TQL Stadium in July in the first meeting. Brandon Vazquez handed FC Cincinnati the lead in the 21st minute, but they could not hold on to it for long.
Lewis Morgan stepped up and converted from the spot just 8 minutes later to level things up on the scoreboard. Allan Cruz got sent off just before the hour mark for FC Cincinnati, and the momentum was in New York Red Bulls’ favor.
However, they could not do much and failed to score another goal. Luciano Acosta was also sent off for FC Cincinnati at the very end of the match, but still, the home side managed to collect a point from the game.
In the reverse fixture, it was a similar story as FC Cincinnati took the lead early in the game. Former Chelsea defender Matthew Miazga opened the scoring for the away side in the 13th minute of the match.
It was another penalty that helped the New York Red Bulls get back into the game. Patryk Klimala scored in the 23rd minute to level things up, and that was the final goal of the match. Both sides failed to make any significant impact in the second half and played safe to earn one point each.
New York Red Bulls finished as the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference this season. They finished the season in poor form with three losses in their last five matches but had already managed to get the points needed to book their playoff place.
They finished the regular season with 53 points from 34 matches but haven’t been clinical in front of the goal. They’ve managed just 50 goals so far this season, with Lewis Morgan scoring 14 of them – six of them coming from the spot.
Gerhard Struber has done well to motivate his players and bring out their best, but the pressure in the knockout stages will be hard to contend with. The Red Bulls squad has an average age of just under 23 – the youngest side in the league.
The New York Red Bulls needed to work hard to earn their last win over FC Cincinnati. They secured all three points in October last season thanks to Andrew Gutman’s goal.
The left-back scored the lone goal of the match in the 73rd minute of the game to seal the win for the side from New York. It was a deserved win as they dominated with 17 shots, even though they had just 41% of the possession. They restricted FC Cincinnati to just 6 shots in the game, even though they were attacking and keeping possession for the majority of the match.
The biggest issue for the New York Red Bulls going into the match this week would be their shooting. They have an 11% conversion rate this season and have got the majority of their goals from inside the box.
Lewis Morgan’s penalty success is one good thing for the young side, who might be headed for a shootout in this game. He has taken six penalties this season and scored all of them. Patryk Klimala is the only one who has missed a penalty for Red Bulls this season but has also scored twice from the spot. Tom Barlow has also taken a spot kick and scored.
FC Cincinnati secured their place in the playoffs with a 5-2 win over DC United on the final day of the regular season. They had their destinies in their own hands with a ‘win and you are in’ situation on the final day.
Things got off to a great start for them as they took a 2-0 lead over the bottom-placed side inside the first 8 minutes. Luciano Acosta opened the scoring and then Brenner doubled it just two minutes later.
The latter scored once again in the 24th minute and went on to complete his hat trick in the 37th minute of the match. DC United had managed to pull one back via Ravel Morrison in the 26th minute, but could not get more before the break.
Kristian Fletcher made it 4-2 right after the half time, but Brandon Vazquez ensured there was no chance of a comeback and sealed the 5-2 win in the 53rd minute.
The last time FC Cincinnati secured a win over New York Red Bulls was in the pandemic-hit 2020 season. They needed a late goal from Haris Medunjanin to get all three points from the match, and it was a shock win.
FC Cincinnati finished at the bottom of the Easter Conference in that season with just 4 wins from their 23 matches. However, they were brilliant against the Red Bulls and restricted their opponents to just one shot on target in the entire match.
FC Cincinnati have been one of the best sides in front of the goal this season. They have scored 64 goals in the regular season and will be aiming to keep their scoring run going.
With a 15% conversion rate, Pat Noonan’s side have scored the 4th most goals in the league. However, they do need to work on their defense, as they have conceded 56 times.
If they manage to be rock solid at the back, there is a good chance of FC Cincinnati beating the odds and going all the way this season.
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|Teams||New York Red Bulls vs FC Cincinnati|
|Location||Red Bull Arena|
|Date||Saturday, October 15 at 12 pm ET onwards|
|How to watch||UniMás, TUDN, MLSsoccer.com & App, MSG, Star 64|
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Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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