FC Cincinnati were thrashed 5-1 by the New England Revolution in the US Open Cup, but Pat Noonan is confident his side can maintain their strong MLS form when they face the Chicago Fire.
Cincinnati have won their last three MLS games and now sit fifth in the Eastern Conference, only three points behind Philadelphia Union, who lead the way.
While the midweek defeat to New England represented something of a reality check, Noonan has full faith that his team will bounce back, and believes that the players have already proved they can overcome such setbacks when they only lost 1-0 to D.C. United following a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Austin FC in their opening MLS game of the year.
“Yes, because it’s already happened. We’ve already had a result like this in our opener, and I thought the response against D.C. at home was a strong one,” he told reporters when asked if he was confident ahead of the trip to Chicago.
“The result wasn’t the result we were looking for, but I liked the response, early on in the season, when we were, in a lot of ways, still figuring out who we were. We have a few more answers, a better idea of where we’re at and who we are.”
Chicago are bottom of the East, having failed to win any of their last six league matches. However, they will be hoping Chris Mueller, who made his debut for the Fire in last week’s loss to the New York Red Bulls, can help them find form.
“I wasn’t playing as much, you know, it was really hard for me,” Mueller said of his short-lived spell in Scotland with Hibernian, which came to an end earlier this month. “But nonetheless I think that I went there for a reason. I learned a ton about myself on the football pitch as a player.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Chicago Fire – Chris Mueller
Mueller did not enjoy a fruitful spell in Scotland. He made 11 appearances in the league for Hibernian, starting five times, but did not manage to score and left on a free transfer to return to MLS.
FC Cincinnati – Luciano Acosta
With his assist on Brandon Vazquez’s winner in Cincinnati’s last MLS match, Luciano Acosta has been involved in a goal in each of his last four games (three goals, one assist). Acosta is the first player in Cincinnati history to record a goal contribution in four straight MLS matches.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– The Fire and Cincinnati have split their six MLS meetings, with each side winning twice and drawing twice. There were seven goals scored in the last meeting, a 4-3 Fire win, after the first five meetings had seen just seven total goals scored.
– The Fire are winless in six straight matches (D2 L4), including losing the last three in a row. Chicago have conceded nine goals in those three games after allowing just two in their first seven matches in 2022.
– Cincinnati have won three straight MLS matches for the first time in club history following a 1-0 victory at Minnesota United on Saturday.
– The three consecutive wins comes after Cincinnati managed just three wins in its previous 33 MLS matches (D8 L22) dating back to July 2021.
– Ronaldo Cisneros’ hat-trick for Atlanta United on Saturday was the ninth time Chicago has conceded a hat-trick since the start of the 2013 season, tied with the Red Bulls for most in the league in that time.