It took until FC Cincinnati’s eighth home match of the season, but yours truly finally trekked down to the West End last night to check out TQL Stadium. I saw firsthand FCC’s 0-0 draw against CF Montreal, the hosts’ fourth straight tie and seventh draw in the club’s past nine matches—four of which have occurred at home. The Orange and Blue, taking the pitch for the first time in 11 days, have become masters of the unremarkable, scoring just a single goal across their past five forays.
FC Cincinnati was the better side last night and deserved the victory, though. For a random summer Wednesday night, the crowd delivered an inspired showing for its struggling club, and the home side damn near got it done.
Let’s be clear: FCC wasn’t spectacular, but they were solid. Head coach Jaap Stam’s renovated back four of Ronald Matarrita, Gustavo Vallecilla, Geoff Cameron, and makeshift right back Nick Hagglund won’t spin yarns of defensive brilliance, but they were more than capable against a Montreal side that was lacking ideas going forward, evidenced by the visitors recording zero shots on goal and just eight shots total. This staleness from Montreal was quite surprising, as it hadn’t been shutout in five successive matches and dropped a five-spot on FC Cincinnati in Montreal last month.
In fact, FC Cincinnati and Montreal have a history of compelling results between them. Most recently was the 5-4 win by Montreal on July 17 in which the hosts overcame a pair of two-goal deficits. It was the first true home match of the season for Montreal, which had been based in Ft. Lauderdale, and Montreal received clearance to host the game on its own grounds from the Canadian government just three days before the match. The result snapped a four-game unbeaten run for the Orange and Blue, too, their best stretch of the season. The fact that multiple FCC players had to fly to New York City midweek to obtain visas may or may not have played a role in the outcome.
The two teams’ first meeting in 2021 was another barnburner. On May 22, FC Cincinnati scored twice over the final 26 minutes to overturn a 1-0 deficit and garner its first victory of the season. FCC’s first goal was scored by Jurgen Locadia, the failed Designated Player’s last score for the club. FC Cincinnati’s 2-1 win over the then-Montreal Impact on May 11, 2019 was also a meaningful one for the club. The triumph, the first for the franchise after the firing of head coach Alan Koch, ended a seven-match winless drought. Also, Allan Cruz’s seventh-minute goal terminated a 662-minute goalless streak for FCC.
Last night, FC Cincinnati notched three shots on target, and while it was far from dominant—and not even a threatening presence on a regular basis—FCC was able to find pockets of space when it could string together the proper passing sequences. Such form berthed Brenner’s offside goal in the 33rd minute, Cruz smacking the crossbar in the 56th minute, and Lucho Acosta rattling the crossbar in the 81st minute. The result was another bitter one for the Orange and Blue, which saw their opponent go down to 10 men via a red card for the second time in four tilts. FCC failed both times to capitalize with a victory, let alone a goal.
FC Cincinnati (17 points, 13th in East) has another contest Saturday evening as its brutal August continues. FCC hits the road to take on the top team in Major League Soccer, the impressive New England Revolution, whose 46 points are seven more than any other league side and whose 40 goals are tops in MLS.
Will Stam rotate his side at all? Will the makeshift back four hold up against the magic of New England playmaker Carles Gil (league-best 15 assists and 75 key passes)? Probably not, but FC Cincinnati have proven themselves to be a much better away side (three wins, three draws) at this point of the season.
Grant Freking writes FC Cincinnati coverage for Cincinnati Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at @GrantFreking.