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New England Revolution edge FC Cincinnati, 3-2, on late goal

FC Cincinnati forward Brandon Vázquez (19) heads the ball as New England Revolution defender...
FC Cincinnati forward Brandon Vázquez (19) heads the ball as New England Revolution defender Andrew Farrell (2) defends in the first half of the MLS match between FC Cincinnati and New England Revolution at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati on Saturday, May 21, 2022.(Albert Cesare/ The Cincinnati Enquirer)
Published: May. 21, 2022 at 10:05 PM EDT|Updated: May. 22, 2022 at 10:36 AM EDT
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CINCINNATI (ENQUIRER) - So far in 2022, FC Cincinnati’s made a living off of bucking the trends of the past, but some trends die harder and slower than others, according to our media partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Case in point: New England Revolution’s visit Saturday to TQL Stadium, where the visitors won their fifth consecutive game against Cincinnati dating back to 2019.

FC Cincinnati twice came back from down a goal to tie the game, but New England, which got off to a slow start in league play this year, scored an 89th-minute winner through Tommy McNamara to take all three points before a crowd of 22,844.

The game was New England’s second win against Cincinnati in 10 days. On May 11, the Revolution eliminated FC Cincinnati from the single-elimination Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in a 5-1 rout.

After, FCC head coach Pat Noonan said Cincinnati learned some lessons from the May 11 meeting and applied them successfully, but didn’t do so with enough consistency.

“This is a game where we shouldn’t be walking off the field without at least a point. This one’s on us,” Noonan said. “Not executing some of the things we discussed prior to the game. Just defending the box – a couple moments where we don’t do that well enough and concede twice in the first half. Took us too long to get into the game with our defensive pressure and shape.”

Sebastian Lletget opened the scoring in the 17th minute after FC Cincinnati’s defense was torn wide open.

An initial shot caromed off FCC goalkeeper Roman Celentano’s left-hand post but landed at the feet of New England’s Brandon Bye, who served the ball back in only for Lletget to spilt FC Cincinnati’s center-backs and scissor-kick the ball in for 1-0.

Cincinnati’s Brandon Vazquez scored in the 26th minute to pull the hosts level at 1-1. Vazquez’s team-leading seventh score cancelled out Sebatian Lletget’s acrobatic, 17th-minute opener.

The goal came after after Vazquez learned he’d be excluded from the U.S. men’s national team June camp and matches.

“Absolutely, I thought the same from yesterday when I saw the roster,” Vazquez said. “I know I’m close and I just gotta keep pushing and performing and stay on the same track.”

FC Cincinnati was unable to see out the first half at 1-1, though, and conceded a crucial goal to put itself in a 2-1 hole after Adam Buksa cleverly flicked a feed from Bye past Celentano.

In the second half, Alvaro Barreal scored a side-footed effort off an assist from Dominique Badji to again pull FCC even after New England went in front via an Adam Buksa flick just before halftime.

For Barreal, the goal was his fourth in all competitions this year and his first in league play.

“I think in the second half we did a lot of good things to get the game back level,” Noonan said. “If we’re a little bit more composed and patient with our decisions on the ball, I think we could create some more chances but I think we just get too impatient at times with our decisions on the ball and cause ourselves way too much running. Inexcusable, unnecessary running because of some of the decisions in how we move the ball and how we move forward as a group to be able to be more effective.”

McNamara’s curler from the top of the penalty box in front of Cincinnati’s Bailey supporters section was the final tally of the contest.

Vazquez said the goal was reminiscent of past, ineffectual FC Cincinnati sides.

It resulted in FC Cincinnati dropping to 6-6-1 in the league, and 2-4-0 at TQL Stadium.

While FC Cincinnati’s improvement in 2022 has been well-documented, the club continues to labor for results at home, and it has only won at the venue three times in MLS play the past two seasons.

“I don’t like it,” Noonan said of the club’s home record. “We don’t like it. The fans don’t like it, so we gotta be more consistent in how we play at home with more confidence, with more consistency in how we are playing on the front foot in attacking our opponents. Too many times we give too much time and space away and then all of the sudden that carries over into a stretch of defending deeper than we’d like to.

“We have to be more aggressive at home, and we have to be more aggressive on both sides of the ball at home so that we can create more chances, score more goals, and concede less chances – and figure out a way to start sending these fans home happy.”

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