There are many parts of the movie Remember the Titans that I enjoy. I like reminding people that Ryan Gosling, an undeniable heartthrob in everyday life, was a human traffic cone as a defender. I like that Gerry Bertier, the team’s star linebacker, runs across the field to emphatically point at the opposing head coach, who had previously directed a racist comment at Titans head coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington).
There’s also a particular line of dialogue that has stuck with me over the years: “Sometimes life’s just hard, for no reason at all.” It’s uttered by Boone’s wife after a car accident leaves Bertier paralyzed prior to the state championship game. The line isn’t particularly loquacious or earth-shattering, but it often pops into my brain when I find myself in dire straights. (Just because you’re 30 doesn’t mean you can’t be affected by Disney dialogue, apparently.)
FC Cincinnati is just four matches away from completing one of the worst seasons in MLS history, and that misery has been achieved via the franchise’s own foibles, like poor roster construction and organizational instability. And a week after a 5-1 defeat to Toronto—the seventh time FCC has surrendered at least four goals in a single match—it was fair to wonder if FC Cincinnati would catch enough breaks to register another victory this year. Well, somehow, some way, FCC went into Montreal and escaped with 1-0 win over the Impact. The triumph achieved smattering of recent firsts in league play for FC Cincinnati:
• First result (win or draw) since August 10, a span of five matches.
• First win since July 13, a span of 10 matches.
• First clean sheet since March 24, a span of 26 matches.
At the risk of diving into cliché sports talk, last Saturday night was a “team win” for the club. FC Cincinnati didn’t concede a goal either just prior to or right after halftime, breaking a typical pattern. Even when center back and captain Kendall Waston was sent off in the 88th minute to put FCC a player down for the final two minutes plus an absurd 10 minutes of extra time, the Orange and Blue kept Montreal out of the net. The victory also dealt a major blow to Montreal’s playoff aspirations, keeping the Impact three points behind New England—who have a game in hand over Montreal—for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
So what does FC Cincinnati have to look forward to after its return to the winner’s circle? A date tonight at Nippert Stadium with the reigning MLS champions, Atlanta United, who were in disarray the last time these two teams met in March, with the champs still adjusting to new coach Frank de Boer’s system. FCC managed to extract its first-ever point in a 1-1 draw, with Roland Lamah scoring in the 86th minute on the Orange and Blue’s lone shot on target.
Any chance that Atlanta would show FC Cincinnati mercy has been extinguished by that result, and also by United’s poor form over its past two league matches (two losses, six goals allowed). Atlanta can’t afford another defeat if it intends to host a playoff game through the first two rounds of the playoffs—United are third in the East standings—an important task for a team with five wins and nine losses in 14 road league matches.
FC Cincinnati’s brief dalliance with good fortune is likely to end tonight, followed by another home match Saturday vs. the Chicago Fire. But at least they’ve given fans a reason to watch again. For now.