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Preview: New York City FC vs. FC Cincinnati – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday’s Major League Soccer clash between New York City FC and FC Cincinnati, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

New York City FC return to Citi Field for the first time since May 22 in need of a win or draw versus FC Cincinnati on Wednesday to avoid matching their longest regular-season losing streak in franchise history.

Heading into this midweek encounter, the reigning MLS Cup champions have dropped three successive fixtures, losing 3-0 to the New England Revolution on Sunday, while the Orange and Blue have a chance to overtake the Revs for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a point.

Match preview

Alfredo Morales in action for New York City FC on August 17, 2022© Reuters

The wheels seem to have fallen off the mighty New York City FC, who suffered a sixth defeat in their last seven league matches this past weekend, the worst stretch of results for them since earning just a single point from matchday four to 10 in their inaugural campaign in 2015.

Nick Cushing keeps saying the right things at his press conferences, calling on his side to raise their standards while preaching togetherness, but judging from their performances, it seems like his messages are not being received.

Sunday was their worst defeat in a regular season encounter since 2019, when they were beaten 4-0 by Toronto at BMO Field, as NYCFC have now conceded three goals in four of their last seven domestic encounters.

Incredibly, as bad as things are going for them right now, the Pigeons are still in a solid position to host a playoff game, though the margin between themselves and Orlando City is much thinner as New York are ahead of them in fourth by three points, while the Lions have a game in hand.

Perhaps a visit to Queens can stop their bleeding, as New York are unbeaten in their three previous matches played this year at Citi Field, posting consecutive clean sheets.

Playing Cincinnati might be just what they need right now, as the Boys in Blue have never lost to the Orange and Blue in league play, winning all four of their previous regular-season home fixtures against them by a combined score of 16-3.

Matt Miazga in action for FC Cincinnati on August 27, 2022© Reuters

In an unexpected twist, FC Cincinnati got a contribution from an unexpected source this past weekend as they kicked off the month of September with an impressive 2-0 win over Charlotte FC.

Cincy have tallied a franchise record 47 goals so far this year, 32 of which have come from three players, who have carried this team to new heights in 2022.

While they still have their share of defensive issues to sort out, currently tied for the third-most goals conceded in the Eastern Conference (48), it is a vast improvement from what this club had done in their previous two 34-match regular-season campaigns where they conceded 75 and 74 goals respectively in 2019 and 2021.

Despite going winless in six straight road contests heading into this encounter, Pat Noonan‘s men have picked up a point in four of their last five away games, squandering two successive second-half advantages, drawing the New York Red Bulls (1-1) and Inter Miami (4-4).

Cincy are unbeaten in eight consecutive MLS matches when scoring the opening goal, with their last defeat coming at the end of May 4-3 at CF Montreal.

Only two of their remaining six matches will be at home, where they are unbeaten in nine straight games, and only two of those final six encounters are against teams that are currently in a playoff position (NYCFC and Real Salt Lake).

New York City FC Major League Soccer form:

FC Cincinnati Major League Soccer form:

Team News

Maxime Chanot in action for New York City FC on August 17, 2022© Reuters

The 2021 MLS Cup MVP Sean Johnson has conceded in seven of his last eight matches for the Pigeons, after failing to concede in four straight encounters, as he is now tied with Andre Blake for the most shutouts in MLS this year (13).

Heber, who has the most goals for them among active players following the departure of Valentin Castellanos, has tallied six times in his career versus Cincinnati, Talles Magno is without a goal in five consecutive matches, Santiago Rodriguez has not tallied a goal or assist in his last three outings, while Thiago Andrade has scored once and also set up one goal in three games played at Citi Field.

Alexander Callens (MCL), Anton Tinnerholm (lower body), Thiago Martins (lower body), Alfredo Morales (lower body) and Keaton Parks (calf) are all doubtful because of injuries.

Nick Hagglund notched the winner for Cincinnati over the weekend, his first of the season, while Luciano Acosta had a goal and an assist, and Yuya Kubo collected his first assist of 2022.

Brandon Vazquez has 16 goals to lead the Orange and Blue domestically this season, while Brenner, who had a hat trick the last time they faced NYCFC in a 4-4 draw back in June, has chipped in with nine goals this year, two more than Acosta, and Matt Miazga has two goals in his last three games.

Beckham Sunderland is unlikely to see the field because of concussion protocol, Kenneth Vermeer is out with a torn pectoral muscle, and Luciano Acosta will be suspended due to yellow card accumulation.

New York City FC possible starting lineup:
Johnson; Gray, Chanot, Amundsen, Owusu; Haak, Acevedo; Andrade, Moralez, Rodriguez; Heber

FC Cincinnati possible starting lineup:
Celentano; Powell, Hagglund, Cameron, Miazga, Bailey; Cruz, Nwobodo, Moreno; Vazquez, Brenner

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We say: New York City FC 3-2 FC Cincinnati

As poor as the defending champions have been lately, Cincinnati have not sorted out their defensive issues, and while Cincy are potent in the final third, they still look vulnerable on the back end.

The Orange and Blue are an ideal opponent for a side like NYCFC, and as entertaining as Cincinnati have been throughout this year, they struggle to put matches away when the opportunity arises, which we believe will benefit the Pigeons on Wednesday.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:curl

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