FC Cincinnati head coach Alan Koch, goalkeeper Spencer Richey, and others break down the club’s latest victory, a 2-0 win at Gillette Stadium.
Pat Brennan, The Enquirer/Pat Brennan
FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts – Leading up to Sunday’s match against FC Cincinnati, New England Revolution head coach Brad Friedel forecasted his team would be up against a defensive-minded, counter-attacking Cincinnati side.
Friedel couldn’t have been more wrong.
For the second week in a row, FC Cincinnati took the game to its opponent and attacked in lethal doses, out-shooting, and out-playing the Revolution for long stretches at Gillette Stadium. Ultimately, a first-half strike from Cincinnati’s Kekuta Manneh and a second-half goal from Kenny Saief allowed the Orange and Blue to beat New England 2-0.
The win was made sweeter for FC Cincinnati because they were without five regular contributors in the match.
Target man Fanendo Adi was absent due to injury while captain Kendall Waston, Alan Cruz, Alvas Powell, and Darren Mattocks were all away on international duty.
“We’re big-time exceeding expectations but we’ll take it,” FC Cincinnati head coach Alan Koch said afterward. “We know we’ll go fight in every single game. We’ve said this since the very beginning. We’re gonna go every single game, give everything we can to try to get three points.”
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You never would have known FC Cincinnati was missing so much skill from its regular arsenal. The transition for first-time starters Emmanuel Ledesma, Forrest Lasso, Greg Garza, and Saief was seemingly seamless.
Saief, who starred on the night, assisted on Manneh’s goal in the 44th minute as Cincinnati pressed hard and high for an opening strike.
Manneh returned the favor in the 65th minute, assisting on a Saief tap-in that seemed to sap New England of its will to compete.
“I saw space. I saw just Kekuta put the ball in the box and I’m happy I was in the right place,” Saief said. “Not a big goal but an important goal.”
The presumed starting goalkeeper for Cincinnati, Przemyslaw Tytoń, also missed his third game in a row due to injury, but Spencer Richey continued his run of strong performances.
Starting in net for the third consecutive week, Richey made two saves to blank the Revolution and earn his second career shutout in as many weeks.
Richey hasn’t allowed a goal since the fifth minute of the March 10 match against Atlanta United, and his shutout streak is now 265 minutes long and counting.
“Somebody mentioned that stat after the game, so I know it’s been a little while,” Richey said. “I said to someone after the game, there’s been way more blocked shots from the guys in front of me than saves I’ve had to make. I think I had the kind of, the double save last week and one this week but besides that, I haven’t had too many saves to make. It’s a credit to the guys in front of me.”
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Tytoń will likely be hard-pressed to dislodge Richey from the starting job in the short-term.
The victory was FC Cincinnati’s second in a row and moved the club to 2-1-1 in 2019 and seven points in the standings.
It could be reasonably argued FC Cincinnati is taking points from matches it should take points from, especially given that it’s caught the last three opponents during rough spots in their respective seasons.
FC Cincinnati is also probably somewhat ahead of schedule in terms of results so far this season.
“If you said to me at the start of the season after four games and having to play these particular four games,” Koch said, “I’d say you’re crazy.”
New England, on the other hand, is freefalling early in the 2019 campaign. The Revs remain winless through four matches (0-3-1) and Friedel appears likely to face scrutiny for his evaluation of FC Cincinnati and his team’s recent run of form.
Friedel was booed by many in the announced home crowd of 10,605 after the final whistle was blown.
FC Cincinnati and New England almost halved the possession in the match. New England held a slight advantage in that metric, but Cincinnati’s 12 total shots were hardly indicative of a “park the bus” defensive mentality as Friedel had anticipated.
“You can’t defend for a full 90 minutes, so if we can go and possess the ball we can make our lives easier,” Koch said. “I think we’ve shown moments at times in the game today where we did a good job of possessing. Other times, we gave the ball away too easily. I think we all know we’re very good in transition and that’s obviously something that we work on and we’ve recruited players to be able to do that… We cannot just be a team that’s going to try to defend and hit you in transition.”
FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts – Welcome to The Enquirer’s and Cincinnati.com’s live coverage of FC Cincinnati (1-1-1, 4 pts.) at New England Revolution (0-2-1, 1 pt). Refresh this page throughout the match for live updates and analysis, and follow Enquirer FC Cincinnati beat reporter Pat Brennan on Twitter (@PBrennanENQ) for additional updates.
IN-MATCH UPDATES –
• FINAL: New England Revolution (0-3-1) 0, FC Cincinnati (2-1-1) 2.
• 65th minute – GOAL, FC Cincinnati (0-2): Kenny Saief scored his first-ever FC Cincinnati goal. Kekuta Manneh returned the favor for their earlier linkup and fed the ball to Saief on the tally.
• HALFTIME: New England Revolution 0, FC Cincinnati 1.
• 44th minute – GOAL, FC Cincinnati (0-1): Kekuta Manneh scored his first for the Orange and Blue, and the club’s sixth goal in four games lates in the first half after they’d been building toward a goal the entire half. Kenny Saief assisted on the play. It was Saief’s second assist in the two matches he’s played.
• Match underway around 4:05 p.m.
• FC Cincinnati starting XI (Bench): Spencer Richey (GK), Nick Hagglund, Greg Garza (C), Forrest Lasso, Mathieu Deplagne, Kenny Saief, Leonardo Bertone, Victor Ulloa, Roland Lamah, Emmanuel Ledesma, Kekuta Manneh. (Jimmy Hage (GK), Fatai Alashe, Corben Bone, Justin Hoyte, Eric Alexander, Nazmi Albadawi, Caleb Stanko.
• Revolution starting XI: Brad Knighton (GK), Antonio Milnar Delamea, Brandon Bye, Edgar Castillo, Michael Mancienne (C), Cristian Penilla, Wilfried Zahibo, Luis Caicedo, Diego Fagundez, Teal Bunbury, Carles Gil.