I have to admit, although I’m still not sold on the validity and safety of this entire tournament, it is very exciting to look at a bracket. Kinda gives you the feeling that we’re watching an international tournament. Anyway, here we are in March Madness—just a different sport and a different month but other than that it’s pretty much the same!
In the round of 16 the Timbers will face a relatively unfamiliar foe. Having faced the Ohio expansion team just once in history, it will be exciting to face them again. The first and only time the teams met was in 2019 and FC Cincinnati came away with a 3-0 home win.
So far in the MLS is Back Tournament, FC Cincinnati have gone on a bit of a roller coaster. After opening group play against the Columbus Crew and losing 4-0, they went on to beat Atlanta United 1-0 and New York Red Bulls 2-0. With 6 points, they finished as runners up in Group E.
Coached by legendary Manchester United and Netherlands center back, Jaap Stam, the team from the midwest has a distinct connection to the Dutch country. Highly experienced Dutch players Siem de Jong and Jurgen Locadia both arrived at the club before the season started as well as Frenchman Adrien Regattin and Japanese striker Yuya Kubo.
In their second win of the tournament against New York it was a goal from Kubo and an own goal that gave them a 2-0 win. Highlights below.
In their first win of the tournament, it was their 2019 #1 overall draft pick from UCLA who gave them the win. Frankie Amaya scored his first career MLS goal to give FC Cincy the 1-0 win.
Before the shutdown, Cincinnati weren’t looking like a force to be reckoned with. They lost both of their league games (NY Red Bulls and Atlanta) before losing their first game of the tournament to Columbus. What should be noted is that they have now beaten both of those teams in the tournament which should make us realize that they may have clicked. Their last game of group play was also a do-or-die situation with second place up for grabs. The pressure didn’t get the best of them and they road their momentum into the round of 16.
But what they appear to lack thus far in their foray into MLS, is a clear identity. After building a near-MLS team for the USL before entering the league in 2019, they added big names like our own Fanendo Adi (now at Columbus) Fatai Alashe and Kekutah Manneh but still struggled with the switch. The support that came from the community of Cincinnati was commendable however, and they filled Nippert Stadium every weekend.
Although they’ve managed to string together two wins in group play, and of course anything is possible in a playoff-style tournament, the Timbers should overcome Cincinnati. Kickoff is Tuesday July 28th at 7:30 pm. Let us know what you’ve seen from FC Cincinnati in the comments and lookout for a tactical analysis coming soon! #RCTID