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In a rut, NYCFC meet playoff-hopeful FC Cincinnati

Aug 17, 2022; Harrison, New Jersey, USA; New York City FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson (1) cannot stop a shot by Charlotte FC midfielder Brandt Bronico (not pictured) for a goal during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

New York City FC attempt to break out of their deep slump when they host FC Cincinnati on Wednesday night.

New York City (13-10-6, 45 points) is a woeful 1-6-1 since star Valentin “Taty” Castellanos was loaned to Girona FC in Spain in late July.

Adjusting to life without one of the stalwarts of last season’s MLS championship team hasn’t been smooth. NYCFC has been outscored 16-9 during the eight-game stretch.

The struggles were again evident in Sunday’s 3-0 road loss against the New England Revolution.

“We have to put the ball in the goal,” NYCFC coach Nick Cushing said. “I said to them after the match, ‘Listen, let’s not hide away from the fact that it’s not good enough.’ And I am incredibly disappointed, just as the team are, and I know the fans are incredibly disappointed with our performances.”

Despite the deep funk, NYCFC still reside in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Goalie Sean Johnson has been superb and is tied with the Philadelphia Union’s Andre Blake for the league lead with 13 shutouts.

FC Cincinnati (9-8-11, 38 points) are currently in the eighth position, just below the playoff line in the East. Cincinnati has the same number of points as No. 7 New England.

Cincinnati also owns a seven-match unbeaten streak (2-0-5) and is coming off a 2-0 home win over Charlotte FC.

“Certainly, an important win for our group,” Cincinnati coach Pat Noonan said. “The most important thing was to just walk off the field with three points, regardless of how it looked. That’s a credit to the group.”

Luciano Acosta contributed one goal and one assist. Acosta has seven goals and a league-best 16 assists. Nick Hagglund scored Cincinnati’s other goal.

“It feels like it’s been coming for a while,” Noonan said of Hagglund’s first goal of the season. “He’s done a really good job of putting himself in a position to finish plays off on set pieces. … It was good to see Nick finally finish one off.”

New York City FC are 6-0-1 all-time against Cincinnati, including a 4-4 tie on June 29. Brenner had a hat trick for Cincinnati.

Brenner’s nine goals are second on the squad behind star Brandon Vazquez’s 16.

–Field Level Media